“The 2008 Zips football season was mired with ups and downs and major shortcomings for The University of Akron football team. Despite tough losses to the then 12th-ranked Wisconsin University Badgers and the very talented Cincinnati Bearcats, the Zips still put themselves in position to play the role of the hunted.””
The 2008 Zips football season was mired with ups and downs and major shortcomings for The University of Akron football team.
Despite tough losses to the then 12th-ranked Wisconsin University Badgers and the very talented Cincinnati Bearcats, the Zips still put themselves in position to play the role of the hunted.
A 5-4 record through November 5 had UA in first place in the MAC East, only to see the team squander three straight games, which eliminated them from MAC Championship contention.
We wore down last year toward the end and it was tough to overcome, Zips senior quarterback Chris Jacquemain said. There were a lot of excuses we could have made, but we just didn’t get the job done.
Jacquemain, the starter behind center each of the last two season, will have his best chance this season to get the job done. We are returning nine of 11 starters on offense and we put up good numbers last year, Jacquemain said. With the guys coming back, we have experience and depth, and that will really help us.
Jacquemain was one of the starters on offense that put up big numbers last year.
His single season numbers of 2,748 yards passing, 20 touchdowns, 2,794 yards of total offense and a 57.9 completion percentage all rank in the top five in UA history.
I have become more comfortable with the system, studied our opponents better and the coaches made good game plans, Jacquemain said of his success last season. The run game opened up the pass game last year and it made it easier on me.
This season, the run game will rest largely on the shoulders of a healthy Alex Allen.
Last year, Allen, a junior, was hampered with a hip injury that allowed the running back to play in only three games. In the games he played, Allen gained 152 yards on the ground in 32 attempts with three touchdowns averaging 50.7 yards per game.
Four of the nine returning starters will be up front on the offensive line and will impact the offense immediately.
Our position is a really vital one, Zips junior offensive lineman Mike Ward said. Those guys (the quarterback, running backs and wide receivers) get the press and we’re fine with that. We just want to do our part.
I believe we have a very good offensive line and I think it will be a strength. I think we have the best line in the MAC and I say that with confidence.
On the defensive side of the ball the Zips will look to be more consistent. Last year, the defense allowed opponents 4, 771 yards of total offense, 375 points and 49 touchdowns.
It has been a communication problem on the field the past couple of years, Zips junior defensive lineman Almondo Sewell said of the defensive struggles. As a defense, we tended to over think out there and that was our main problem.
Injuries also played a key role in the struggles of the defense as a whole. Whenever you have injuries you need the young guys to step up and they did last year, Sewell said.
Sewell, a member of the All-MAC team in each of his first two seasons, had 2.0 sacks, six tackles for a loss and an all-told 62 tackles during the 2008 campaign.
I just try to go out and work hard and work on my pass rush, Sewell said. I have been successful because of it.
This season, Sewell will look to be just the second Zip to earn All-MAC honors three times in a career. The only Zip to accomplish that honor has been Chris Kemme.
Sewell will begin his quest for this honor as he and the Zips open their season in Happy Valley against the Penn State University Nittany Lions on Sept. 5.
Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions come into the season as the 8th-ranked team in the USA Today Top 25 Preseason Poll.
Last year, Penn State went 7-1 in the Big Ten Conference and 11-1 overall eventually losing to the USC Trojans in The Rose Bowl.
It’s a game our whole team is looking forward to, Jacquemain said about the opportunity to play Penn State. We want to go in and win not just go to see where we are at.
The Zips will head home the following week to open up Infocision Stadium-Summa Field against Morgan State University before being tested by another Big Ten school in the Indiana University Hoosiers.
All eyes our going to be on the football team with the new stadium, Jacquemain said. It’s a real honor to be the first Zips quarterback to play in the new stadium.
The Zips will take on the Ohio University Bobcats in the Homecoming game on Oct. 10.
Another date to circle on the calendar will be the rivalry game versus the Kent State University Golden Flashes. KSU will make their first visit to Infocision Stadium-Summa on Nov. 7.
The Zips will conclude their regular season schedule on Nov. 27 at home against the Eastern Michigan University Eagles but Jacquemain said he believes they will still be playing the following week in the MAC Championship game.
Our goal is to win the MAC Championship and play in a bowl game, Jacquemain said with confidence. We expect to be very successful this season.