Mackey poised for rivalry

“Senior rover John Mackey earned the Mid-American Conference East Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance in the Zips 41-24 loss to Indiana last weekend, and didn’t even know it. Someone told me today and I didn’t even know, Mackey said. I’d be a lot happier if we would have won, but it’s still a tremendous honor.”

Senior rover John Mackey earned the Mid-American Conference East Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance in the Zips 41-24 loss to Indiana last weekend, and didn’t even know it.

Someone told me today and I didn’t even know, Mackey said. I’d be a lot happier if we would have won, but it’s still a tremendous honor.

Mackey earned the award after recording 13 tackles, including three stops for a combined loss of 22 yards.

I’ve never been MAC Player of the Week, but for me it’s sour because we lost the way we did, he said.

The Zips kept the game close. They were tied with the Hoosiers at half-time and were down only three with nine minutes to go, but Indiana was able to score two touchdowns in the final minutes to pull away for good.

The defense simply didn’t do our jobs. The coaches put us in the right positions, and gave us an opportunity to win, Mackey said. But as players, we’ve made too many mistakes and we need to step it up.

Mackey is not satisfied with the defense’s effort even though they have forced seven turnovers in three games.

The faster we can get the ball in the offense’s hands, the faster we can score, he said. The more we’re on the field, it’s not good. If we can get them on the field as much as we can, it’s good for us.

Despite losses in the last two weeks to Big 10 teams, the Zips are looking forward to this weekend’s game against rival Kent State. Although Mackey is a fifth-year senior, he was aware of the Akron-Kent rivalry long before he was a Zip.

I’ve known about the rivalry my whole life, Mackey said. My sisters went to Akron and my brother went to Kent. It hits close to home. Over the years, I’ve seen it go back and forth. It gets pretty intense.

Saturday’s match-up will be the 50th game played between the two teams, and the Zips will need Mackey’s leadership on the field. Akron holds the all-time record with a 27-20-2 advantage, including eight wins in the last 10 meetings.

I see the younger guys looking up to me, so I forced myself into the leader position, Mackey said.

We have a great class of incoming freshman. The guys around (here) are like brothers, we’re a big family.

A big family that has a score to settle and a lot to prove this Saturday, that is.

Last year, we kind of slipped off a bit and I don’t think people grasped the idea of the rivalry like they should have. They came out firing and we weren’t ready.

Mackey and the Zips will not be overlooking the talent of the Flashes this year, though.

They are not a lot different than last year. Their run game has improved, head coach J.D. Brookhart said of Kent State. Running back Eugene Jarvis has been pretty scary. When he gets that hole he can hit and he can make you miss.

Kent State head coach Doug Martin knows this game holds great importance.

It is the game, it is a rivalry here. And it is important, it is one that you point to all year long, during winter conditioning, summer two-a-days, it is a big deal, he said. We still practice in the exact same way and it doesn’t take much to get the players to go out and practice in this one.

Incentives are there, I think.

For Mackey, Saturday is one last shot at claiming the Wagon Wheel and beating the Zips’ biggest rival.

This year we’re not taking it easy because we have the sour taste in our mouth. They are a great team. They just dominated our defense.

The Zips (1-2) will host the Kent State Golden Flashes (2-1) this Saturday at noon at the Rubber Bowl.


” #1.1361807:3697744389.jpg:Mackey Shot.jpg:John Mackey was named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week:Buchtelite File Photo”