“The Zips football team has had limited success in season openers in recent history, posting a 3-12 record since joining the Mid-American Conference in 1992. This year’s team will look to reverse that trend Saturday when they play host to the Army Black Knights in the inaugural First Merit Patriot Bowl at Browns Stadium.””
The Zips football team has had limited success in season openers in recent history, posting a 3-12 record since joining the Mid-American Conference in 1992.
This year’s team will look to reverse that trend Saturday when they play host to the Army Black Knights in the inaugural First Merit Patriot Bowl at Browns Stadium. The game, which is set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff will mark the fourth meeting between the two teams.
The last time the two teams played was in 2005 when Army traveled to the Rubber Bowl and defeated the Zips 20-0. The game was arguably the low point in Akron’s Mid-American Conference Championship season.
Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart said that the team was not mentally prepared for the late-October contest against the then-winless Black Knights.
They came in and physically kicked our butt, Brookhart during his weekly media conference Monday. They played (with) great pad level (and) tough every snap. I think we thought we were gonna show up and win that football game.
Sometimes, that immaturity comes out where you think you can get through practice Tuesday through Thursday (and) show up Saturday. I truly believe that’s what happened that year.
Brookhart said that he believes the team has learned from that experience and will come into Saturday’s game with a different mindset and approach.
Army at a Glance
Stan Brock was promoted to head football coach at Army in January, after serving as the team’s offensive line coach for three seasons. The Black Knights went 3-9 in 2006 with their wins coming against Kent State, Baylor and the Virginia Military Institute.
Besides Brock, the most notable addition to Army’s coaching staff was the hiring of Tim Walsh as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Walsh was the head coach at Division I-AA Portland State University from 1993-2006, where he posted a record of 90-68.
Brookhart expects that Walsh has implemented a pass-oriented offense similar to the one used at Portland State.
Jacquemain, Ivelijic named starters
Two of the most hotly contested position battles during preseason camp where at the quarterback and place-kicker spots. Brookhart announced during the last week of preseason camp that Chris Jacquemain would be the team’s starting quarterback and Igor Ivelijic would be Akron’s starting place-kicker.
While deciding who would be the starting quarterback – Jacquemain or Carlton Jackson – Brookhart said that the coaching staff discussed playing both quarterbacks, but quickly dismissed the idea.
We sat around the room and looked at a two-quarterback system, and it’s just not feasible, Brookhart said. It doesn’t give you a voice of the team.
The decision came down to which quarterback the coaching staff felt would be more effective at minimizing mistakes, Brookhart said.
As we told them at the beginning, it was gonna come down to who we could trust the most to limit mistakes and errors, he said. We felt most comfortable with Chris.
While naming Jacquemain the starter, Brookhart said that he plans to play Jackson for a series sometime early in the second quarter, noting Jackson had earned the opportunity to play.
Brookhart said that the change will only last for a series – no matter the result – because he wants Jacquemain to be comfortable and to develop with the offense.
I don’t want to have a short leash with him, Brookhart said. I want to give him an opportunity that he’s not looking over his shoulder.
Brookhart said that when he informed both quarterbacks of his decision, he made his plan for the position clear.
We’ve had the competition, Brookhart said. I’m not making any promises. Just because you’re starting the season doesn’t mean you’re gonna finish it. But don’t think in the first three or four weeks that if you make a mistake (or) throw an interception, we’re pulling you. That’s not gonna happen.
Brookhart added that Jackson has been supportive of his decision and that the coaching staff has been pleased with the development of both quarterbacks.
They both had nice camps (and) improved greatly, Brookhart said. With where they’re at right now, we’re much farther along than where I anticipated.
When we sat down to make that decision, we all felt that we could win with both. Both were far enough along (and) both exceeded my expectations at where they’d be at this point.
The winner of the inaugural First Merit Patriot Bowl will be awarded the Cleary Trophy, named for Michael Clearly, long-time Executive Director of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.