Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 3 Preview: Cincinnati

It won't be much of a preview this week. For the last few years, the Akron/Cincinnati matchup has been close and exciting. That's not happening today.

It has been anything but a solid start for the Zips this year, who have been outscored 83-3 over the first two weeks.


Unfortunately for Akron, Cincinnati has this interesting concept called "offense". Let's compare some of the stat leaders:

AKR-Clayton Moore-18/42, 246 YDS, 0 TD, 2 INT
CIN-Zach Collaros-33/53, 364 YDS, 6 TD, 0 INT


AKR-Jawon Chisholm-25 CAR, 89 YDS, 0 TD
CIN-Isaiah Pead-21 CAR, 242 YDS, 3 TD


AKR-Marquelo Suel-5 REC, 110 YDS, 0 TD
CIN-D.J. Woods-13 REC, 170 YDS, 1 TD

Today we may see a little more Patrick Nicely, as Moore has just looked miserably uncomfortable in his first two starts. There's a decent chance that the Zips will get some offense going, but this Akron defense (which hasn't had a sack or an interception in its first two games) is going to be slaughtered by the Bearcats.

For masochistic Akron fans like me, the game will be shown on ESPN3 at 3:30pm.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week 2 Preview: Temple

Game 2 of the three-game season-opening nightmare is upon us. The Zips open InfoCision Stadium/Summa Field today against the Temple Owls, who blew away Villanova 42-7 last week.

Temple has a potent offense led by the resurgence of junior running back Bernard Pierce. Last week, Pierce carried the ball 20 times for 147 yards and 3 TDs. We're likely to see at least two touchdowns from him today,  unless quarterback Mike Gerardi's passing game does what most do against our (lack of) pass coverage. Gerardi was 14-20 for 235 yards and 2 TDs last week.

As for the Zips, it's still impossible to say. Clayton Moore looked miserable under center last week (I know, I know, it was against Ohio State), but he did lead the team in rushing...with 32 yards. After this week, we'll have a little better basis for judgement.

As for Temple's defense, I'd like to believe that our Zips are better offensively than Villanova, but in all likelihood it's probably not by much. We're likely to see a pretty similar scoreline to last week's 42-7 scrubbing of the Wildcats.

For coverage, the game will be aired exclusively on ESPN3. If you're fortunate enough to have an affiliated Internet provider, head over to WatchESPN to see it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Football Season Preview, Part 1: Offense

The season is upon us, ladies and gentlemen. In two short days, you will be able to watch your Akron Zips tremble before the might of the Ohio State Buckeyes on national television. Dare I suggest we see the first major upset of the year with this game? A boy can dream, right?

Let's kick this season off with a preview of...

The offense.

It can't possibly get worse than last year, can it? Out of 120 teams, the Zips ranked 108th in passing offense, 101st in rushing offense, and 118th in points scored. Yeesh.


This year we have a serious quarterback battle on our hands, folks.

1) Patrick Nicely, a junior, and last year's starter. He struggled under Rob Ianello's new pro-style offense, completing only 49.4% of his passes for 1,753 yards, 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. See those horrible offensive rankings up above? This guy was a huge part of those. Through the first half of the season, Nicely showed everything but the promise of his freshman year. He rarely threw the ball well downfield, and consistently scrambled straight into a defender. Closer to the end of the year, however, he started to look a little more comfortable.

2) Clayton Moore, a JUCO sophomore, originally signed to Ole Miss. He looked a lot more composed than Nicely in the Spring game, but that's hardly a suitable method of identifying who the better quarterback will be.

3) Zach D'Orazio, a freshman that looked equally impressive in the Spring game.

Running Backs:

We will likely see Broderick Alexander carry the ball early on in the season as the only returning running back. His statistics weren't very pretty in 2009 (59 carries at 3.4 yards per carry) and he missed all of 2010 with an Achilles injury. Freshman Jawon Chisholm will almost certainly see some carries as well this year. He ran 14 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the Spring game.

Wide Receivers:

You probably just heard me sigh. Jeremy LaFrance is gone. Jalil Carter is gone. We're left with Antoine Russell (13 REC, 221 YDS, TD), Richard Hall (16 REC, 149 YDS, TD), and a whole bunch of nothing else. Whoever grabs the quarterback spot this year is going to need some serious help.


Jake Anderson and Zac Kasparek return to lead a not-as-terrible-as-every-other-position offensive line. Unfortunately, injuries throughout the Spring have left the rest of the offensive line very thin.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Roo News 8/29/11

It's that time of year again. The Akron Football Zips take to the field on Saturday to take on the *gulp* #18 Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Zips Sports Blog is back in action.

There are a few changes to the blog this year. For starters, since I've graduated from the University of Akron and can't attend all of the games in person, I will no longer be able to cover soccer or volleyball like I have in the past. The good news is that I can cover football and basketball with a little more detail. You can expect a preview and a recap for each televised game this year, and I will do my best to make it to the non-televised games. Last but not least, I will be double-blogging, writing over at Akron Sports Now. Most of my posts will be duplicated there, but not all of them.

A football season preview will be up within the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Zips Football Preseason Q&A

For those that aren't aware, I was recently involved in a preseason Q&A with College Football Zealots. Check out the full article for more in-depth coverage, but here is the Q&A session itself:

In Ron Ianello's first year, Akron went 1-11 last year including an OT loss to Garner-Webb. What are your overall thoughts on Ianello and what does he need to do better this year?

I'll start by saying I was personally against the firing of previous head coach J.D. Brookhart. The man was a mastermind at adapting to situations (many Zips alumni have set records at positions that they didn't start at). He recruited very well, but he didn't recruit very deep; so when star quarterback Chris Jacquemain was dismissed from the team for an unknown repeat violation, All-MAC wide receiver Deryn Bowser broke a leg, and bruiser runningback Joe Tuzze and backup quarterback Matt Rodgers found themselves in similar situations, there was no possibility of adaptation, resulting in a 3-9 record. However, when the vast majority of the fanbase called for Brookhart's head on a platter, the athletic department was forced to do something.

I had originally thought that Rob Ianello was perfect for the team; he was a Top 25 Recruiter, and came from a solid Notre Dame squad. A lot of the horrid record is a result of a Zips squad that Ianello didn't recruit. Jacquemain, Bowser, and Tuzze, who were almost all of Akron's offense at the beginning of the year before had all graduated. On the other hand, the rest of the record is a result of terrible decision making and ridiculous playcalling; the most questionable was Ianello's decision to go with proven-terrible kicker Igor Iveljic as opposed to promising Sophomore T.J. Marchese. Had Iveljic not shanked twoextra points during the Gardner-Webb game, that spirit-breaking loss would never have happened. Another choice was a switch to a pro-style offense as opposed to the spread being run by Brookhart. In order for a pro-style offense to work, a team needs a quarterback that is comfortable in the pocket and a running back that can run straight up the middle to pick up yards. The Zips had neither of these. In order to improve, Ianello is going to need his recruiting class to fit his offense; and it wouldn't hurt to throw away those 3-yard flat routes during a 3rd and 10.

The Zips scored 15.6 points per game last year which placed them 118th out of 120 teams. Who needs to step up this year on the offensive side of the football to help get this fixed?

To say Sophomore Patrick Nicely was disappointing last year would be an understatement. Injuries and experience from the year before kept him in the top spot, but he was clearly uncomfortable passing in the pocket, and didn't show much improvement throughout the year. He ended the season with 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The good news for the Zips is, somebody is going to step up this year, whether or not it is Patrick Nicely. Zach D'Orazio and junior college transfer Clayton Moore both looked solid throughout Spring practices. Newcomer running backs Jawon Chisholm (14 carries for 142 yards and 2 TDs in the Spring Game) and Marvin Staten also looked great throughout the Spring against a solid Zips linebacking corps, and if they too can step up, we'll see some offense in 2011-2012.

Akron was in the bottom 20 of the Nation for pass defense last year. Who are some newcomers that you think can come in and make an impact on those numbers?

Devonte Morgan and Johnny Robinson, fellow Glenville Tarblooders, are two very promising defensive backs in this year's recruiting class. I don't expect the pass defense to improve much this year, but with a (hopefully) improved offense comes more time of possession and less time the defense spends on the field. If the Zips can start converting some third down plays this year, that alone will improve the pass defense.

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?

The Zips start the season with three grueling games against Ohio State, Temple, and Cincinnati. Even if all three of those are lost, winning the next three against VMI, Eastern Michigan and FIU would leave them with a 3-3 record and a winning streak to carry them into heavy conference play. The Akron team we saw at the end of last season would do more than hold their own against any of those three teams, so a win in all three isn't much of a stretch for the imagination.

What is the one game on the schedule that the fanbase wants to win the most this year?

Kent State. No question. If you attend a social event on the Akron campus, at some point throughout the night you will hear one person shout the time, and the rest of the room shout back "And Kent State still sucks!" The Battle for the Wagon Wheel is an intense, heated, fairly even rivalry that will make or break a season. Although if you ask some of the Zips fanbase, they'll agree that it would be nice to win a bowl game.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

If the Zips can sweep the three-game streak against VMI, Eastern Michigan and FIU, they can end with a 6-6 record and possibly make a bowl game. If not, they are a 3-9 team. There's no way we'll see another 1-11 season, but the Zips are not yet a contending team under Rob Ianello; there are inexperienced players at every position that are going to be severely tested this year.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Hey everybody, how's it going?

First things first: I apologize for the complete lack of updates this summer. There are two reasons for this; one is that my specialties are Akron football and basketball, and I didn't (don't) know enough about the baseball team to write good articles on them. The other is that I graduated early in May after the busiest and toughest four months of my life, then had to relocate and be ready to start my new job just two weeks later. Now that all of that has been accomplished, and I've acclimated myself, the blogging will resume.

Anyway, for news.

There is none.

Well, none that I'm happy with, anyway. When I originally heard that men's basketball head coach Keith Dambrot would be on Mike & Mike in the Morning earlier today, I was stoked. How often do the Zips get a chance on national television? Unfortunately, it hit me as soon as the program started; he's only on there to talk about LeBron.

ESPN makes me sick. Watching SportsCenter today is like being drilled in the teeth. It all started after the Cavaliers' playoff loss to the Boston Celtics last year. LeBron himself nabbed the first 27 minutes of airtime discussion on SportsCenter the day after, and the trend has continued and possibly increased thanks to the Heat's long playoff run:


This so-called sports news program seems to have forgotten a few things. For one, the Stanley Cup is also in progress, a dead-even 2-2 series between two teams that absolutely hate each other. The "highlights" of these games last about 2 minutes each day on SportsCenter.

For another, the USA men's soccer international team trounced Canada in the first game of the Gold Cup earlier in the week. 97% of you reading this right now are wondering what the Gold Cup is. Case in point.

The Gold Cup is a rather large soccer tournament between teams in North and Central America....well, it's a big tournament for all but one country. "Sports"Center gave a whole 15 seconds of airtime to the USA victory, squeezing in the final score during a Top Play.

Back to Dambrot...don't take this the wrong way. I love the guy. He's an incredible basketball coach. There are very few college basketball teams that have the distinction of winning 20 games each of the last six seasons, and even less that can claim five consecutive conference championship appearances.


Keith Dambrot, head coach of the University of Akron men's basketball team, went on a national sports talk show, and talked about LeBron. Defended LeBron.

I get it...he was LeBron's basketball coach in high school. I understand that. Head to the Mike & Mike in the Morning homepage to hear the interview if you want, but I can describe it to you here:

Q: What's up with LeBron only scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter through this entire series?
A: Jason Terry's too quick.

Or something like that.

For as well as the basketball team has done in the last few years (including putting up a fight against Gonzaga and Notre Dame in two NCAA tournaments), the head coach just received more airtime in one show talking about LeBron James than he has talking about his very successful mid-major basketball program in five years.

That is legitimately disappointing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Roo News 4/17/11


Playing under a special scoring format, the Akron Zips offense defeated the defense 82-36 yesterday. It was a little more of a blowout than I expected, but the fact the offense outperformed the defense doesn't surprise me at all. The Zips have never had a shutdown defense, generally allowing the opposition to pick up a few first downs before having them punt it away.

All three quarterbacks played very well:

Last year's disappointing starter Patrick Nicely threw 7-11 for 103 yards. Junior college transfer Clayton Moore was 11-14 for 122 yards with a touchdown, and Zach D'Orazio threw 5-8 for 127 yards and a touchdown.

It looks a tad better for Moore (D'Orazio's yardage is a little misleading; one of his five passes was a 77 yard touchdown) than the others, but Nicely's experience is the most important item on his résumé.

I would point out how great it is that the quarterbacks combined completed 23 of 33 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns, but we all saw how miserable our pass defense was last year.

Here's some better, less misleading statistics:

Jawon Chisholm (who?) was named the offensive MVP...for his 14 carries, 124 yards, and two rushing touchdowns. Last year's rushing defense wasn't nearly as bad as the secondary, and with the worries over the rushing game, this is very good news. On top of Chisholm, freshman Marvin Staten ran 14 times for 50 yards.

On the defensive side, safety L.T. Smith had 10 tackles, and cornerback Bill Alexander had eight. Last year's team leader in the tackling department, Brian Wagner, only had four; a testament to the performance of the offensive line and running backs.

Men's Soccer:

When did Lee Jackson Field become Cub Cadet Field? I completely missed that one.

The men's soccer team tied Xavier 2-2 yesterday in a Spring Exhibition game at....Cub Cadet....Field. That sounds awful. While we're at it, why don't we rename Jacob's Field to Progressive Field?

The Zips goals were scored courtesy of Darren Mattocks and Scott Caldwell. Mattocks ended the day with four shots and three on goal.

I know these are just exhibition games, but the ties are worrying me. With seven new starters, and the results to date in the Spring schedule, I hold no hope of a repeat championship, and I highly doubt that the team will make it back to the College Cup.

Valparaiso is next up on Wednesday, at 7:30pm, at good old Lee....Cadet Field.