UA football showcases team in annual spring game

“Fans mingled freely inside Stile Athletics Field House on Saturday afternoon, catching glimpses of the University of Akron football program’s annual spring game and the conclusion of four weeks of spring practice. While the game is what brought the contingent of Zips supporters together, the approximately 1,000 fans were more focused on taking tours of the ongoing construction of InfoCision Stadium and collectively dreaming about the immediate future of the program.”

Fans mingled freely inside Stile Athletics Field House on Saturday afternoon, catching glimpses of the University of Akron football program’s annual spring game and the conclusion of four weeks of spring practice.

While the game is what brought the contingent of Zips supporters together, the approximately 1,000 fans were more focused on taking tours of the ongoing construction of InfoCision Stadium and collectively dreaming about the immediate future of the program.

The team will open its new, $61.6 million, 30,000-seat on-campus stadium when it hosts Morgan State on Sept. 12.

The lure of the new digs, the fact that the Zips will play six home games for the first time in recent memory and the arrival of two new offensive coaches with extensive head coaching experience rendered the defense’s 28-24 win over the offense meaningless in the minds of fans.

The direct opposite can be said of the next six times the Zips strap on their pads in front of the home crowd. With the hype surrounding the new stadium, the surprising off-season signing of three veteran assistant coaches and the return of a veteran and explosive offense comes responsibility.

That responsibility, put succinctly, is to win. Win, and to do so frequently, especially when under the bright lights of InfoCision Stadium in the heart of campus.

The team has been reminded of that responsibility throughout the spring when practicing at Schrank Field and has talked about it every day, UA head coach J.D. Brookhart said.

It wasn’t hard to sit over there at the practice field, and look back left at the facility they’re putting up, he said. We have the responsibility to hold up our end.

Brookhart described achieving success in the upcoming season as critical.

It’s a big responsibility on our shoulders to have to have a very good season, Brookhart said. This is a commitment from the university. We have to put a good product out there and fill those stands.

If the new facility and subsequently upgraded home schedule – coupled with the new coaching hires – doesn’t bring the success that all stakeholders in the program are hoping for and expect, changes will likely come.

Considering its uniqueness, senior quarterback Chris Jacquemain’s thoughts on the impending 2009 season seam accurate.

It’s probably the most important season that Akron’s ever had, Jacquemain said. They’re putting so much money into the stadium and into us. We owe it to the school and the community to put a show on for them.

Here’s to hoping that the show next fall lives up to its advanced billing.