Improvements apparent in loss

“Call me an optimist. Call me a die-hard Zips fan. Call me whatever you want. But, to me, the football team’s loss at Wisconsin last weekend showed that this year’s team has more promise than the gloomy predictions posted in most preseason publications indicate.”

Call me an optimist.

Call me a die-hard Zips fan.

Call me whatever you want. But, to me, the football team’s loss at Wisconsin last weekend showed that this year’s team has more promise than the gloomy predictions posted in most preseason publications indicate.

The team’s passing attack appears to be much more effective this year with the addition of transfer wide receivers Jeremy Bruce, Deryn Bowser and Dashan Miller, and an improved quarterback in second-year starter Chris Jacquemain. Eight receivers caught multiple passes in the season-opening 38-17 loss.

The ground game should be strong again this year, even with the move of Bryan Williams, the team’s leading rusher in 2007, to strong safety because of senior tailback Dennis Kennedy, redshirt junior Alex Allen and junior-transfer Andrew Johnson.

There’s no denying the team’s defense looked bad. Anytime you give up more than 400 yards rushing there should be concern.

There are several reasons, however, to be encouraged that the trend will not continue. First, Wisconsin boasts one of the nation’s best running games. Second, UA’s defensive line consisted of several underclassmen throughout the game, with senior Eric Lively and transfer Ryan Bain out due to injury.

It’s important to point out the differences I see between this year’s season-opener and last year’s week two game at Ohio State – both considered to be good showings against major programs by UA.

The Zips lost to Ohio State 20-2 on Sept. 8, 2007. The game was close throughout the first half with UA only trailing to the eventual national runner-up 3-2 at halftime, but the team ended the game with 66 yards passing and a net of three yards rushing with no offensive scores

The team’s offensive woes persisted throughout the season, as the team finished 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the Mid-American Conference.

If UA’s offense continues to have success in 2008, the team should as well. Both the offensive and defensive units have several new faces, so as the team continues to gel, it should improve even further.

Am I suggesting the Zips will win the MAC this year? Hardly, but with the team’s remaining schedule, they should be competitive throughout the rest of the season and entertaining to watch.