“For all the steps the University of Akron football team has made recently, especially after its win last week over Syracuse, the Zips are still plagued by the same problems. Forget the 41-24 loss to Ball State Saturday at the Rubber Bowl. Losing to the Cardinals this season is different than losing to them in the past.””
For all the steps the University of Akron football team has made recently, especially after its win last week over Syracuse, the Zips are still plagued by the same problems.
Forget the 41-24 loss to Ball State Saturday at the Rubber Bowl. Losing to the Cardinals this season is different than losing to them in the past.
They have playmakers on offense that showed up when they needed it the most. Akron didn’t.
The numbers suggest the Zips are not the same team as last year. But when it matters most, they struggle with the same issues as the 4-8 team of a year ago.
Last season, the Zips had little focus and less talent.
This team is certainly more talented than last year, especially offensively, with the slew of transfers. But the players focus is still an issue when playing equally or more talented teams.
Quarterback Chris Jacquemain threw for 269 yards. He also threw for four interceptions, only two of which were his fault.
His first pick went through wide receiver Jeremy Bruce’s hands and his third was intercepted after finding its way through Dashon Miller’s hands before landing in defensive back Sean Baker’s hands.
Two passes that should have been caught were turned into interceptions.
Jacquemain did have two legitimate interceptions and a fumble that Baker scooped up and ran back 30 yards for a touchdown.
Jacquemain made his share of mistakes, but got little help from teammates when he was on target.
On the Zips first drive of the game, Jacquemain hit tight end Merce Poindexter in stride in the end zone. The pass bounced off Poindexter’s chest. The Zips settled for a field goal.
Akron receivers dropped four other on-target passes.
The only difference so far this season is the Zips ability to string together good drives when the pressure is off and the game has been decided.
The final two UA touchdowns both came in the fourth quarter when the Zips were down by 21 points.
Their first touchdown was a gift, courtesy of a Ball State running back MiQuale Lewis’s fumble at the Cardinal’s 10-yard line.
On the other sideline, Ball State was led nicely by quarterback Nate Davis. On the game’s defining drive, with 4:03 left in the first half, the Cardinal’s put on a play-maker clinic, with the Davis as the headliner.
Following Jacquemain’s second interception and with the game tied at 10, Davis led the Cardinals on a nine-play, 63-yard drive, making two key plays that kept the drive alive.
On third-and-11, Davis dropped back, couldn’t find a receiver and took off for 13 yards and a first down.
Three plays later, on a third and 10, Davis threaded a pass to Dante Love for 34 yards. And two plays after that, Lewis went untouched into the end zone giving the Cardinals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
But unlike last year’s team, there is some hope. The Zips are plagued by numerous injuries to its offensive and defensive lines that would have, if healthy, helped keep pressure off Jacquemain and put more pressure on Davis.
On the plus side, wide receiver Deryn Bowser looked sharp, with 117 yards receiving as did Andrew Johnson, who had a 26-yard touchdown run, showcasing his speed and power, running through a Ball State safety on his way to the end zone.
Both are transfers; Bowser from Los Angeles Harbour, Johnson from the University of Miami (Florida).
But until the Zips can make those types of plays in crucial situations, they are no better than last season.