Thursday, September 30, 2010

No NCAA Record

Despite leading in shots (25-16), shots on target (11-8), and corner kicks (8-1), the men's soccer team drew with Ohio State 2-2 yesterday, failing to set the NCAA record for consecutive shutouts. The Zips instead share the record of 11 consecutive shutouts with Furman and Virginia.

The Buckeyes scored in the 30th minute to ruin the record, but Michael Nanchoff tied it at 1-1 with a penalty kick after Darlington Nagbe was taken out in the box. Darren Mattocks scored his fourth of the year in the 68th, which would have been the game winner if not for a crazy Buckeyes goal with 89:57 on the clock. Yeah...three seconds left in the game (no extra time in college).

An interesting stat: Ohio State was called offsides 8 times.

The Zips return to MAC play tomorrow at 5:30 against the Florida Atlantic Owls, who have yet to win on the road this year. The women's team then follows at 8:00 against Ball State. Fans attending the men's game can stay to watch the women for free.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


As expected, the Zips football squad lost to Indiana yesterday. Also as expected, the margin of victory was less than three touchdowns. Not as expected, we very well could have won that game. The final score was 35-20, but had Jeremy LaFrance not dropped a pass in the endzone on a 4th and 1 play, the game would have been 35-27 with 6 minutes left. 'Twas not to be. Dropped passes are killing the passing game this year.

The defense looked more like I had predicted before the season began. The veteran D-Line and linebacking corps held Indiana to just 84 rushing yards, but the secondary gave up 342 yards and four touchdowns through the air.

Patrick Nicely looked a little better, throwing over 50% (15-27) for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns. I'm glad Ianello stuck with Nicely. I still think he'll be great for the next two years if he can figure out how to be a pocket passer.

Check out the receiving stats:

Gary Pride: 4 REC, 54 YDS
Jalil Carter: 3 REC, 34 YDS
Jeremy LaFrance: 2 REC, 46 YDS, 2 TD
Rhyne Ladrach: 2 REC, 13 YDS
Alex Allen: 1 REC, 19 YDS
Antoine Russell: 1 REC, 7 YDS
Austin Bailey: 1 REC, 3 YDS
Nate Burney: 1 REC, -1 YD

Teams are figuring out that shutting down Jeremy LaFrance shuts down the passing game, so it's nice to see Gary Pride and Jalil Carter stepping up (just a little bit). Just imagine if LaFrance had made that catch with 6 minutes left in the game...3 REC, 80 YDS, 3 TD...ah, what could have been. But wait, there's more!

Alex Allen: 13 CAR, 80 YDS
Nate Burney: 9 CAR, 62 YDS
Gary Pride: 3 CAR, 16 YDS
Patrick Nicely: 5 CAR, 2 YDS

I can finally stop talking about the golden days with Dennis Kennedy! We may actually have a running game here, folks! We'll see what happens when MAC play begins next week, but averaging 6 yards a carry against a Big Ten team (albeit a pretty bad Big Ten team) is a good sign.

Zack Campbell had another great day punting (3 punts, 109 yards) and The Ever Dependable Igor (the stats are right here in front of my face, but I'm still having trouble believing this) made both of his field goal attempts, from 45 and 29 yards.

You can't hear them, but here are Ianello's post-game thoughts:

The Zips return home next Saturday to begin conference play against Northern Illinois. I'll preview that game on Friday.

In overshadowed Zips news, the volleyball team annihilated Miami (Ohio) yesterday, winning 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-12). This win makes nine straight, and the 10-4 record is the first time Akron volleyball has started this well since 2002.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Roo News 9/25/10

1) I'm not going to bother with a big football preview this week. I haven't given up on the Zips' chances, though. The last two games against Indiana have been reasonably close (38-21 in 2009 and 41-24 in 2007). Heck, Western Kentucky put up a fight against the Hoosiers last week. On top of that, the last time the Zips were 0-3, they won 6 of the next 7. On the other hand, the Zips haven't won on the road since 2008. The game's at 7 o'clock on the Big Ten Network.

2) But we have soccer! That motto is going to stick even more after the men's soccer team embarrassed #2 Tulsa 4-0 yesterday. All three of Akron's Hermann candidates scored, along with Perry Kitchen. The Zips have now,, outscored 9-0 the #2, #3, and #4 teams in the nation. How's that for a team? The Zips now have a streak of 11 straight games with a shutout, tied for the longest in NCAA history.

The game was 2-0 within the first 13 minutes, and Tulsa never got on track. The Golden Hurricane (what exactly does their mascot look like?) were outshot 20-8, only one of their shots came near David Meves, and the Zips hit the crossbar three times. They hit the crossbar three times! This game could have been 7-0! Tulsa is the #2 team in the country! Anyway...Caleb Porter?

The Zips have a chance to set a new NCAA record for a shutout streak at Ohio State on Wednesday.

3) For every incredible win the men's soccer team pulls off, the women's soccer team gets annihilated. I did not see this coming. They were bulldozed by Central Michigan 3-0 in their MAC opener. The Zips are now 2-6-0 and have dropped to fifth in the MAC East. They travel to Ypsilanti on Sunday to face Eastern Michigan before returning to Akron on Friday for a doubleheader with the men.

4) The volleyball team improved to 9-4 after crushing Bowling Green yesterday. I was able to see the first set before I hiked over to the soccer game, which turned out to be the most exciting. The sets were 27-25, 25-23, and 25-16, all in favor of the Zips. They have another game today against Miami (Ohio) at 7.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roo News 9/20/10

1) While I expected the football team to lose to Kentucky this weekend, I didn't expect them to lose it this badly. The final score was 47-10. It's no surprise that Kentucky put up 47, but I'm still in disbelief that we were held to 3 points until there was a minute left in the game. The Zips used to have an offense...

This will be short.

KY-Total Rushing-290 YDS
AKR-Total Yards-172 YDS

That just about sums it up. Patrick Nicely was 4/19 for 57 yards. Matt Rodgers came in at the end of the game to throw the Zips' only touchdown. He was 2/5 for 48 yards. Does this mean Rodgers is the better quarterback? I still don't think so; but he is probably the better quarterback for Ianello's new pro-style system. Nicely has played out of the shotgun since high school. He's a very good shotgun quarterback, which we all saw last year. It's very tough to take a shotgun-oriented QB and turn him into a pocket passer.

The game against Gardner-Webb showed that the Zips can get it done on offense, but only if Alex Allen and Nate Burney have early success. The receivers (other than LaFrance) on this year's team really aren't capable of making plays. Nicely (or Rodgers) needs some help.

And I'm still not sure what's going on with the defense. They looked great early on in the game, when it was 6-3 Kentucky midway through the 2nd quarter. Then the Wildcats scored six consecutive touchdowns. Here are the rest of the stats.

2) The #1 men's soccer team defeated Cincinnati 1-0 yesterday, moving to 5-0-0 on the season. Akron dominated for a large portion of the game (no surprise there), outshooting Cincinnati 12-4. The Bearcats also had 19 fouls to Akron's 6. The lone goal of the game came off of an Ampaipatakwong free kick.

For those with Fox Soccer, tune in Friday night for the game against Tulsa. It's going to be a good one.

3) The women's soccer team dropped to 2-5-0 after losing to Long Beach State 4-1.

4) The volleyball team defeated both Connecticut and Cornell on Saturday, sweeping the Colgate Invitational. The sweep puts their record at 8-4, second in the MAC East.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Roo News 9/18/10

If you're wondering why there was no football preview for this week, it's because I'm still in disbelief over last week's loss to Gardner-freaking-Webb.

In actuality, my professors have flogged me with work this week, and I was sick yesterday night, which is when I normally would have posted the preview. On to the news.

1) The football team is away at Kentucky today, with the kickoff beginning about an hour after this post. Akron is 0-4 all-time against SEC teams, this being the first meeting with the Wildcats. The good news about this season is that the last time the Zips started off 0-2 (2004), they lost a third before finishing the season 6-5. Something smells like hope...

2) The men's soccer team won their first game in the new Lee Jackson Field last night over Cal State Northridge. The game sold out (4,200) and marked the second-largest crowd in the history of Lee Jackson Field. The final score (3-0), was also the score at the end of the first half, which is when I left the game because I wasn't feeling well. The Zips outshot Northridge 10-0 in the first half. Perry Kitchen, Darlington Nagbe, and Chad Barson scored for the Zips. Caleb Porter's typically nonchalant thoughts on the game are below, and here is the box score.

3) The women's soccer team dropped to a 2-4 record after a 2-0 loss to UC Davis in the first match of the UNLV Rebel Classic.

4) The volleyball team defeated Colgate in five sets to improve to 6-4.

5) Kofi Sarkodie received MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week honors for the second week in a row.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Roo News 9/12/10

1) The men's soccer team defeated Bowling Green 2-0 yesterday. Kofi Sarkodie and Darren Mattocks scored the goals. Even though Akron led the Falcons in shots 16-1 at the half, the game was scoreless until the 64th minute. Here's the box score. Anybody else looking forward to the College Cup this year?

2) This video of Ianello's post-game conference answers a few questions about yesterday's game. While I think J.D. should have been given another chance, after all the injuries last year, Ianello's top 25 recruiting ability will probably pay off in two or three years.

3) Gardner-Webb was 5-5 on touchdowns inside the red zone yesterday. This red zone defense is going really hurt us in the next two games.

4) Poll: Does the football team make it to three wins this year?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's Going To Be a Long Year...

I saw that coming. In the first quarter, with the Zips up 14-3, I saw that coming. The crowd had an aura of overconfidence from the first snap, and before we knew it, The Ever Dependable Igor had shanked the game-winner and overtime began. It wasn't until that point that the crowd even got into the game (not that there was a sizable crowd to begin with).

For those just tuning into this day of disaster, the Akron Zips football squad lost to FCS team Gardner-Webb 38-37 today, in overtime. The planets just didn't align for the Zips today. First, miscommunication between head coach Rob Ianello and his captains resulted in the Zips kicking off at the beginning of both halves. Yep. You read that right. Near the end of the game, a series of questionable officiating prevented a Gardner-Webb turnover, and also allowed the Runnin' Bulldogs bench to explode onto the field after a touchdown without having 15 yards tacked on for excessive celebration. Also, a Bulldogs defensive back pulled one of the simplest stalling tactics ("My helmet is broken!") during a late Akron drive (allowing the defense to get some extra rest), which the refs stood by and allowed to happen, waiting patiently for him to "fix his helmet" before starting the play clock.

Overtime began, and the Zips did what any FBS team should be able to do, which is drive the 25 yards for an easy touchdown. Enter The Ever Dependable Igor Iveljic. Granted, the blocked extra point that ensued isn't entirely his fault, but after missing the 34 yard game-winner, it's easy to be upset with the guy.

Let's get to the statistics:

Rob Ianello and I had similar thoughts for an offensive strategy. The Zips came out gunning early, and it opened up the running game well. Alex Allen (20 CAR, 110 YDS, 3 TD) and Nate Burney (17 CAR, 119 YDS) both looked incredible today. I can only hope that they can keep this kind of play up for conference games. Today's game was the first time two Akron backs have rushed for over 100 yards in a single game since 2002.

Nicely was 14-21 for 165 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He looked a lot calmer than last week, hanging around in the pocket much longer when under pressure.

Once again, Jeremy LaFrance dominated the receiving crew:
AKR-Jeremy LaFrance: 7 REC, 88 YDS, TD
AKR-Everybody Else: 7 REC, 77 YDS

The Ever Dependable Igor was 1/2 on field goals and 4/5 on extra points. His 48 yarder sailed through, but as mentioned, the 34 yard game-winner didn't. I like Igor Iveljic, don't get me wrong. He's certainly capable of making long-distance field goals, but his late-game attempts haven't been pretty. Part of me wants to see T.J. Marchese out there for a game.

Zack Campbell had another great game in terms of punting (3 punts, 103 yards).

Away games at Indiana and Kentucky are next. Oh, boy...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Football Preview, Week 2

The Zips are at home tomorrow for a beat-down game against the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs of the Big South Conference.

The Zips have never played Gardner-Webb in football, but the Bulldogs are 0-2 all-time against MAC opponents (losses to Ohio and Buffalo). Gardner-Webb is currently 1-0 on the season after a 28-14 victory over the Brevard College Tornados last week. Freshman running back Juanne Blount ran for 134 yards in just 18 attempts against the Tornados, but it is highly doubtful he will have that much success against Brian Wagner and the rest of the Zips rush defense. Also of note is senior linebacker Jeffery Williams, who was a 2008 FCS All-American, but was injury-plagued in 2009. He recorded 18 tackles last week and was named FCS National Defensive Player of the Week.

The game shouldn't be too hard for the Zips, but after being held to 166 total yards against Syracuse, anything can happen.

This is what I want to see more of on Saturday: Receivers catching the ball. Patrick Nicely threw the ball like a champ last week. Sure, he was only 12-35 for 111 yards, but I didn't see any of those 23 incompletions come close to a defender. In one drive in the third quarter, Nicely hit three different receivers straight in the hands; all three receivers dropped the ball. If Nicely and the receivers have some success early on Saturday, Nate Burney and Alex Allen are going to have a much easier time running the ball.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Roo News 9/8/10

Thank goodness for the lack of sports this week. Time for some soccer catch-up.

1) Boom. Statement. The men's soccer team dominated Wake Forest on Sunday, 2-0. The Demon Deacons were held to four shots total. Not one of those was on goal. Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe scored for the Zips. This game also drew a record regular season crowd in Wake Forest's Stadium. Here's the box score.

This means that the Zips defeated #4 North Carolina and #3 Wake Forest by a combined score of 5-0. Also, with this win, the Zips are 47-0-0 when leading after the first half under Caleb Porter.

2) Darlington Nagbe received both MAC Player of the Week and NSCAA National Player of the Week honors after his performance in the games against North Carolina and Wake Forest.

3) The women's soccer team fell 3-0 to Ohio State, evening their record to 2-2-0. They have five more away games before the double header with the men on October 1st.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Generation of Football?

Sorry for the delayed posting. I took a day off to clear my head from the catastrophe that was the opening football game, and the University's wonderful on-campus connectivity prevented me from doing anything useful yesterday. So here's the news:

Ouch. Alright, J.D., we're sorry we fired you. Can you come back now? No hard feelings, right? Saturday's shellacking was painful in every sense of the word.

What looked good:
Jeremy LaFrance (7 grabs for 75 yards) and Brian Wagner (who had an interception for 37 yards while the Zips were still in the game).

What didn't:
Everything else. Here are some stats:

AKR-Patrick Nicely: 12-35 (12 of 35!!!!), 111 YDS
SYR-Ryan Nassib: 17-27, 229 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

AKR-Nate Burney: 12 CAR, 38 YDS
AKR-Alex Allen: 7 CAR, 21 YDS
SYR-Delone Carter: 26 CAR, 91 YDS, TD
SYR-Ryan Nassib: 9 CAR, 58 YDS
SYR-Antwon Bailey: 9 CAR, 55 YDS

AKR-Jeremy LaFrance: 7 REC, 75 YDS
AKR-Everybody Else: 5 REC, 36 YDS
SYR-Team: 17 REC, 229 YDS, 2 TD

The playcalling on the part of the Zips was awful from the opening kickoff. Nate Burney, a much smaller and quicker back than Alex Allen, was running up the middle. Nicely threw flat after flat after flat, each resulting in two or three yards.

How did that work out? Just look at Akron's first five drives:

1. 3 plays, 9 yards, punt
2. 3 plays, 2 yards, punt
3. 5 plays, 20 yards, punt
4. 5 plays, 24 yards, punt
5. 3 plays, 0 yards, punt

But wait, there's more. After a 40 yard field goal from Igor Iveljic (gasp!), the Zips came out fired up for the second half (ha!) for these two epic drives.

1. 3 plays, -11 yards, punt
2. 3 plays, 2 yards, punt

Then, after putting together a 6+ minute drive encompassing 57 yards, Igor's next field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The Zips punted two more times in the third quarter before having a grand total of two drives in the fourth. The first resulted in yet another punt, and the second was an 8 play, 33 yard drive that resulted in a turnover on downs and the end of the game. At least Zack Campbell got some exercise (10 punts, 383 yards).

One more awful stat before I go scream at a random passer-by. Akron didn't turn the ball over once. Syracuse threw one interception and lost two fumbles. The Zips had a +3 turnover ratio and lost by 26!

It looks like Ianello's new system is going to take some getting used to. The game against Gardner-Webb on Saturday is a breath of fresh air (maybe).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Roo News 9/4/10

1) Hear that, NCAA? Yeah, that's the Akron Zips men's soccer team showing you why they're #1 in the nation. The men shut out North Carolina 3-0 in Chapel Hill yesterday. Eric Stevenson, Kitchen Perry, and Darlington Nagbe each scored a goal. This opening day win is the fourth in a row for the Zips. Each of those wins came against a nationally ranked opponent. Caleb Porter must be pretty ecstatic, right? The men's road unbeaten streak increased to 17 with this victory. As always, has the box score. This is an impressive win, but a trip to #3 Wake Forest is next.

2) The women's soccer team netted (pun intended) themselves another impressive victory yesterday over Canisius, 3-0. Leigh Cullen's hat trick is only the third in team history. Remember that Katie Wise had a hat trick against Illinois State in the team's only other game this year. The women absolutely dominated the entire game, holding Canisius to just four shots. Cullen's second shot was incredible, from about 30 yards out, hitting the upper right corner. I happened to be standing to the left of Canisius's goal when the shot happened. I still don't know where it came from. Cullen is a little bit happier than Porter was. The box score is here, and pictures from the game are below:

3) The Zips football season kicks off at 6pm today at InfoCision Stadium against the Syracuse Orange. The Zips have lost their last two season openers, which came at Penn State last year, and Wisconsin in 2008. The game is available on ESPN3, if you're lucky enough to have a service provider that carries it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Football Outlook, Part 4

Alright, let's compare:

2009 Passing Stats:
Patrick Nicely-120/222 (54%), 1349 YDS, 6 TD, 6 INT, 108.6 RAT
Matt Rodgers-39/69 (56%), 405 YDS, 1 TD, 6 INT, 93.2 RAT
Chris Jacquemain-26/44 (59%), 320 YDS, 4 TD, INT, 145.6 RAT
Jared Wackerly-4/5 (80%), 36 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT, 140.5 RAT
Alex Allen-1/1 (100%), 80 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1102.0 RAT

Those of us that had to sit through the miserable season last year are still ticked at Jacquemain for getting dismissed from the team. Bypass the could-have-been, however, and you'll be thankful. Nicely's experience from last year may pay off. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that he would win the quarterback battle for this year. I did not like the way that Rodgers played last season; constantly looking to run, forcing horrible throws into the endzone, and rushing headlong into trios of defenders. Regardless, I love this quote from Nicely:

"[Rodgers] is a good quarterback," Nicely began. "I'm not saying anything bad about him. But this is my job."

I have a feeling that Nicely, just a sophomore, will soon look like a Charlie Frye, Luke Getsy, or what Chris Jacquemain should have been.

Many are predicting the Zips to finish 6th or last in the MAC East. I disagree. I think we'll see a 6 win season in 2010, and as Nicely improves, an 8 or 9 win season in 2011. Wishful thinking? Probably. I predicted 6 wins in 2009. This time around, however, our starting quarterback (probably) won't be dismissed from the team just two games into the season.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Football Outlook, Part 3

Running Back:
Here's an interesting stat from last year. Seven players rushed for more than 100 yards, and nobody of them ran the ball more than 59 times. The key to the running game this year will be health. We have two solid running backs in Alex Allen (who was granted a sixth year of eligibility) and Dale Martin.

Another strong point for the defense. Brian Wagner, who led the team in tackles last year as a freshman, will be alongside seniors Mike Thomas and Sean Fobbs.

Special Teams:
Sophomore T.J. Marchese has looked good in practice this year. Even though Igor Iveljic and Branko Rogovic return to this year's squad, my bet is on Marchese getting both kickoff and field goal least until he becomes as unbelievably inconsistent as Iveljic and Rogovic. Zack Campbell will probably be punting again this year.

Men's Basketball Schedule

The men's basketball schedule was revealed a few days ago. The team has a lot of opportunities to prove themselves this year. You can see the schedule here. A few interesting notes:

-The home opener will be against Divison III Millikin. Exciting.

-The final home game is February 26th against Buffalo.

-March 5th is the final regular season game, once again against Kent State.

-The non-conference schedule features away games against Dayton, Temple, Minnesota, and Miami (Fla.). All of those teams could be top 25.

-Home games against in-state teams Youngstown State and Cleveland State on the 20th and 24th of November.

I don't think there's a chance that we win less than 18 regular season games, but with such a tough non-conference away schedule, the team may be struggling by the time conference play begins.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Football Outlook, Part 2

Wide Receivers:
Hear that sound? That's me grunting in pain. Jeremy LaFrance is the only returning starter in the receiving corps for the 2010 season. The wide receiver position is in such bad shape that Ianello and his staff are making a J.D. Brookhart-like change, switching Jalil Carter from the safety position...and he's expected to start right away. Also at wide receiver is sophomore Nadir Brown, and senior Kyle Weber will most likely appear at tight end.

Defensive Line:
Almondo Sewell and James Harvey once again anchor the very strong defensive line this year. If Hasan Hazime, who tied for first in sacks with 3 last year as a sophomore, has improved, we may have some very strong rush defense.