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Akron Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

It wasn't like Akron was fantastic in its MAC title winning season, but it was fantastic when it had to be.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

After not getting a deserved bowl bid in 2003 or 2004, the Zips took matters into their own hands and got an extra game by winning the MAC championship on a thrilling last minute pass to Domenik Hixon.

It was a strange season with unforgivable losses to Army and Ball State mixed in with a home loss to Central Michigan and a blowout at the hands of Miami University. But when the Zips needed a win, it got one beating Northern Illinois twice and catching East rival Bowling Green without Omar Jacobs.

Now J.D. Brookhart's crew wants to do even more, and it has the talent to do it with 16 returning starters led by what should be one of the MAC's best defenses. To get back to the championship game and earn another bowl bid, the Zips have to be far more consistent and get steadier play out of both sides of the ball.

Head coach: J.D. Brookhart
3rd year: 13-11
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16, Def. 22, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 12
Ten Best Zip Players
1. QB Luke Getsy, Sr.
2. DE Jermaine Reid, Sr.
3. NG Kiki Gonzalez, Sr.
4. LB Kevin Grant, Soph.
5. OG Andy Alleman, Sr.
6. OT Tim Crouch, Sr.
7. LB Brion Stokes, Jr.
8. SS Chevin Pace, Jr.
9. TE Kris Kasparek, Jr.
10. S John Mackey, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5

9/2 at Penn State
9/9 at NC State
9/16 at Central Michigan
9/23 North Texas
9/30 at Kent State
10/7 at Cincinnati
10/21 Miami Univ.
10/28 at Toledo
11/4 Bowling Green
11/9 Buffalo
11/16 at Ohio
11/24 Western Michigan

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 7-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/1 at Purdue L 49-24
9/17 at MTSU W 17-7
9/24 No Illinois W 48-42 OT
10/1 Central Michigan L 31-17
10/8 at Buffalo W 13-7
10/15 at Miami Univ. L 51-23
10/22 Army L 20-0
10/29 at Bowling Green W 24-14
11/5 at Ball State L 23-17
11/15 Ohio W 27-3
11/24 Kent State W 35-3
12/1 MAC Championship
No. Illinois W 31-30
12/27 Motor City Bowl
Memphis L 38-31

That won't be a problem for a defense with legitimate contenders for first-team All-MAC honors in guard Kiki Gonzalez, end Jermaine Reid, linebackers Kevin Grant and Brion Stokes not to mention four returning starters to a secondary that helped the Zips finish 16th in the nation in pass defense. Considering where the defense was a few seasons ago, to even be considered among the best in the MAC shows how quickly Brookhart and his staff have turned things around.

The offense could be another story, at least early on, needing to replace the top receivers along with 1,000-yard back Brett Biggs. However, quarterback Luke Getsy should be able to build on a great end to 2005 and be one of the MAC's best passers, while all five starters return to what should be a top offensive line.

If all things come together and the Zips get the play needed from all of their veterans, they're not going to need a miracle last second pass to win their second straight championship.

The Schedule: It's a nightmare early with five road games in the first six and six road games in the first eight needing to survive non-conference games against Penn State and NC State before the MAC opener at Central Michigan. On the plus side, the big East games against Miami and Bowling Green are at home and three of the final four games are in the Rubber Bowl. The games against the West aren't all that bad missing Northern Illinois but playing Toledo on the road.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Luke Getsy. He turned into a better passer as last season went on throwing for 868 yards over the final two games and finishing with 3,455 yards and 23 scores. He'll have to be even better this year with so much turnover in the receiving corps and in the backfield.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Jermaine Reid and NG Kiki Gonzalez. The line wasn't always a rock against the run last season, but these two should be stronger with Gonzalez the MAC's best anchor and the 275-pound Reid a fearsome pass rusher.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Dennis Kennedy. The Zips not only have to replace Brett Biggs' 1,230 rushing yards and ten touchdowns, they have to replace his 65 catches for 535 yards and four scores. The 209-pound Kennedy and fellow sophomore Alex Allen will bring a bit more speed.

The season will be a success if ... Akron wins the MAC title. How do you shoot for anything less after winning it all last year? Even with seven road games a ten-win season is very possible as long as there's a second championship and a bowl victory.

Key game: Nov. 4 vs. Bowling Green. The East showdown with Miami will also be important, but beating the Falcons should be a must to have any hopes of getting back to the MAC title game. After games against the RedHawks and Toledo, Akron might be able to all but clinch a spot in the championship if everything goes well.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 100 - Akron 54
- QB Luke Getsy vs. Northern Illinois (2 games): 50-89, 819 yards, six touchdowns, one interception
- Fourth down conversions: Akron 11 of 27 (41%) - Opponents 2 of 9 (22%)

The Last Time Akron…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Motor City Bowl vs. Memphis)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…1992 (Ohio)
…was shutout…2005 (Army)
…scored 50 points…2003 (Howard)    
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…2005 (MAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2005 (Luke Getsy)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Brett Biggs)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2005 (Domenik Hixon)
…had a first-round draft choice…never

Related Stories
Akron Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Akron Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Akron Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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