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2007 Akron Zips

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2008


2007 Akron Zips Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

Akron Zips

 

Recap: Instability behind center and general futility on offense plagued Akron all season, making the program’s MAC title under J.D. Brookhart feel a lot longer than just two years ago.  When the Zips were competitive, it was usually attributable to an underrated defense that placed five players on the All-MAC squad, including freshman DE Almondo Sewell.  The program’s problems were accentuated on road trips, finishing a miserable 1-6 in games away from the Rubber Bowl.                  

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Jabari Arthur

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Brion Stokes

Biggest Surprise: The Zips lone road win came at the expense of Western Michigan in one of the wildest finishes of the season.  Trailing 38-33 with just a few ticks remaining on the clock, FS Andre Jones took a pitch from teammate Alphonso Owen, and returned a kickoff 89 yards for the game-winning score as time expired.      

Biggest Disappointment: Akron was never the same after blowing a big lead to Temple on Oct. 13, losing 24-20.  Cruising along with a 20-3 lead in the fourth quarter, the Zips permitted three Adam DiMichele touchdown passes, the final one a backbreaker with 27 seconds left on the clock.           

Looking Ahead: For Brookhart’s offense to succeed, he’s got to have a more reliable pitcher, which certainly wasn’t the case in 2007.  With the back seven about to undergo a major overhaul in 2008, and the schedule including games with Kentucky and Cincinnati, it could be another four-win campaign for the Zips.

 

- 2007 Akron Preview 
-
2006 Akron Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-7
2007 Record: 4-8

Sept. 1 Army W 22-14
Sept. 8 at Ohio State L 20-2
Sept. 15 at Indiana L 41-24
Sept. 22
Kent State W 27-20
Sept. 29 at Connecticut L 44-10
Oct. 6 at West Mich W 39-38
Oct. 13
Temple L 24-20
Oct. 27 at Buffalo L 26-10
Nov. 2 at Bo. Green L 44-20
Nov. 7
Ohio W 48-37
Nov. 14 at Miami Univ. L 7-0
Nov. 23
Central Mich L 35-32

Nov. 23
Central Michigan 35 ... Akron 32
CMU scored 15 points in the final seven minutes to stun Akron. The Zips held a 32-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter helped by touchdown runs from 61 and 56 yards out by Bryan Williams, and a 64-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Andre Jones. But CMU would hang around with a 43-yard Dan LeFevour touchdown dash along with a 27-yard pass to Bryan Anderson. Akron had control late with a chance to put it away on a long pass, but it was called back on a holding penalty and CMU took advantage of the shift in momentum with a 30-yard Kito Poblah score and a one-yard LeFevour run, and a two-point conversion from Duane Brooks, to put it away. Akron's final drive was snuffed out on the first play by an interception.
Player of the game: Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour completed 33 of 54 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran 16 times for 132 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 23-38, 210 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Bryan Williams, 18-145, 2 TD. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 8-111
Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 33-54, 382 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Dan LeFevour, 16-132, 2 TD. Receiving: Antonio Brown, 15-174

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
At least Akron can say it had the two MAC title combatants on the ropes. After losing to Miami late in last week's game, the Zips blew it against Central Michigan by not being able to hang on in the final seven minutes. The offense, outside of two huge runs from Bryan Williams, failed to consistently gouge a lousy Chippewa defense, but on the plus side, Jabari Arthur capped off a great career as the team's all-time leading receiver after making eight grabs for 111 yards.

 

Nov. 14
Miami University 7 ... Akron 0
Craig Meester took a fumble seven yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. That was it for the scoring. The two teams combined for seven turnovers and 18 punts with Miami coming up with 320 yards of total offense and Akron cranking out just 216. MU LB Clayton Mullins forced the fumble that turned into a score and finished with 11 tackles.
Player of the game: Miami LB Clayton Mullins made 11 tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and made five tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 12-33, 116 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Alex Allen, 13-73. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 6-73
Miami University - Passing: Daniel Raudabaugh, 16-31, 189 yds, 3 INT
Rushing:
Cory Jones, 18-66. Receiving: Chris Givens, 5-78

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Akron's offense, a week after a nice performance against Ohio, went into the tank against Miami with just 216 yards. Eight penalties, three turnovers and nothing deep from the passing game helped in the shut out. Blame the offensive line. Chris Jacquemain was under pressure all game long, while the running game was only able to get 100 net yards thanks to all the plays made behind the line. This has been a bad season, but things can end on a solid note with a home win over Central Michigan next week.


Nov. 7
Akron 48 ... Ohio 37
In a wild shootout with each team trading punches throughout, Alex Allen ran for three short touchdown runs and Chris Jacquemain connected on touchdown passes from 32 yards out to Jabari Arthur and 22 yards to Kris Kasparek in the second half. Ohio kept pace with a 54-yard Kalvin McRae touchdown run early, and three Brad Bower touchdown passes, including two to Andrew Mooney, but 14  points in the final 3:35 on the Kasparek catch and a one-yard Allen run helped Akron pull away. Akron outgained Ohio 419 yards to 359.
Player of the game: Akron RB Alex Allen ran 14 times for 96 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 14-23, 197 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Alex Allen 14-96, 3 TD. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 8-129, 1 TD
Ohio - Passing: Brad Bower, 17-37, 239 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
Kalvin McRae, 21-109, 1 TD. Receiving:
Chido Nwokocha, 6-51
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Akron came up with one of its most balanced offensive efforts of the season in the win over Ohio, with Chris Jacquemain throwing well, Alex Allen running well, and few mistakes to give the Bobcat offense a chance for cheap points. Outside of allowing a big early touchdown run for Kalvin McRae, the run defense was terrific, and if it plays like it did this week against Miami next week, then there the season will have turned around in a big way just as things are winding down. 6-6 is still possible if the team plays like this.

Nov. 2
Bowling Green 44 ... Akron 20
Bowling Green forced four turnovers, with P.J. Mahone picking off two passes, and rolled up 500 yards of total offense. Akron hit two first half field goals, but the Falcons rolled with Tyler Sheehan throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Marques Parks and a 15-yarder to Jermiah Kelly, and Mahone returning an interception for a score on the way to a 41-6 lead. The Zips finally got into the end zone in the fourth quarter on a 42-yard Jabari Arthur catch.
Player of the game: Bowling Green DB P.J. Mahone made ten tackles, picked off two passes, and returned one for a score
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Carlton Jackson, 14-31, 192 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Carlton Jackson, 24-133. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 6-93, 1 TD
Bowling Green - Passing: Tyler Sheehan, 25-35, 268 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Anthony Turner, 13-104, 1 TD. Receiving: Freddie Barnes, 8-79

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
With Carlton Jackson in at quarterback for Chris Jacquemain, the offense was rusty against Bowling Green and the running backs were all but out of the mix after the offense got down early. This isn't a team built for big comebacks, and it was all but out of the battle after the first quarter. With a three-game losing streak and the season slipping into the abyss, and with a tough slate ahead starting against Ohio, the defense has to start making more stops early, be stronger against the run, and hope the offense can be more consistent.

Oct. 27
Buffalo 26 ... Akron 10
Alex Allen capped off an 80-yard opening Akron drive with a one-yard score, and that would be it for the Zip touchdowns as Buffalo forced three turnovers and got an 11-yard touchdown catch from Ernest Jackson and a nine-yard touchdown catch from Naaman Roosevelt for a 13-7 lead. The Bulls owned the second half with two A.J. Principe field goals and a three-yard Chris Scharon scoring run.
Player of the game: Buffalo’s Davonte Shannon led the team with 13 tackles
Stat Leaders: Akron
- Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 19-37, 185 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Bryan Williams, 21-87. Receiving: Bryan Williams, 5-49
Buffalo - Passing: Drew Willy, 11-14, 125 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
James Starks, 24-91. Receiving: Jesse Rack, 3-48

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Akron outplayed Buffalo, for the most part, but couldn't go on any long drives after the opener and turned it over three times. There wasn't anything special about the attack, while the defense didn't come up with a key stop when needed in the second half. Now the Zips are all but out of the MAC East race unless they win out. A bowl bid is still attainable, but a win over Bowling Green next week is a must.

Oct. 13
Temple 24 ... Akron 20
Down 20-3 going into the fourth quarter, Temple rallied with three touchdowns on three Adam DiMichele touchdown passes including a 19-yarder to Dy'Onne Crurup with 27 seconds to play. The Zips appeared to be on the way to an easy win, with two Chris Jacquemain touchdown passes highlighted by a 49-yarder to Jabari Arthur, the Owl passing game got rolling in the fourth, and ended up with 242 yards and 378 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Temple QB Adam DiMichele completed 23 of 34 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions, and ran 12 times for 62 yards
Stat Leaders: Temple - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 23-34, 242 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Adam DiMichele, 12-62. Receiving: Dy’Onne Crudup, 8-74, 1 TD
Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 12-21, 145, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Bryan Williams, 22-114. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 6-84, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Now the shoe is on the other foot. After an improbable last-second win over Western Michigan, Akron lost in the final moments against Temple, and now has to go on the road to face a hot Buffalo team and Bowling Green. The secondary has to start coming up with more big plays, while Chris Jacuemain has to come up with two consistent games in a row. The chances will be there to stay in the MAC title race, but there's no room for mistakes the rest of the way.

Oct. 6
Akron 39 ... Western Michigan 38
A wild game with 992 yards of total offense became a game-of-the-year candidate with an all-timer of an ending. Western Michigan took a 38-24 lead with 12:25 to play on a seven-yard Mark Bonds run. Akron couldn't respond until Jabari Arthur caught a 51-yard touchdown pass, his third score of the day, with less than five minutes. to play. WMU couldn't run out the clock, and instead of risking a punt return for a score, chose to take a safety with 15 seconds to play. On the free kick, Alphonso Owen fielded the ball and went 11 yards before getting stopped. Before going down, he was able to get the ball to Andre Jones, who took it 78 yards for an improbable score with no time left on the clock for the 39-38 win. The play overshadowed a huge day from Arthur, who caught 15 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns, and big performances from both quarterbacks. Akron's Chris Jacquemain threw for 389 yards and four scores, and WMU's Tim Hiller threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
Player of the game: Akron's Alphonso Owen and Andre Jones, for combining on the 89-yard kick return for a touchdown to win the game. Jones made five tackles on the day, and Owen caught three passes for 58 yards
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 23-41, 389 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Bryan Williams, 14-72. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 15-223, 3 TD
Western Michigan - Passing: Tim Hiller, 27-40, 375 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
Mark Bonds, 26-83, 1 TD. Receiving: Jamarko Simmons, 10-172, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... If Akron ever wanted to believe this was a charmed season, the Western Michigan win is it. Now, improbably, the Zips are 2-0 in MAC play despite getting next to nothing from the defense in recent weeks. Chris Jacquemain has now proven he can bomb away when needed, and Jabari Arthur is no longer just a quarterback playing receiver. He's a legitimately dangerous target who needs full-time attention.

Sept. 29
Connecticut 44 ... Akron 10
Connecticut took just over a quarter to wake up, and after getting down 10-9 late in the first half on a six-yard Jabari Arthur touchdown grab, and then things quickly changed as Tyvon Branch took the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score. The Huskies scored 35 unanswered points with Donald Brown and Lou Allen running for short scores, and Andre Dixon ripping off a 55-yard score, his second touchdown of the game. Tyler Lorenzen threw two touchdown passes.
Player of the game: Connecticut RB Andre Dixon ran for 116 yards and a score on 12 carries, and had four catches for 52 yards and another touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 19-28, 145 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Bryan Williams, 13-65. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 8-81, 1 TD
Connecticut - Passing: Tyler Lorenzen, 17-26, 203 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Andre Dixon, 12-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Andre Dixon, 4-52, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense continues to struggle to get anything consistently going, but it did a decent job of limiting mistakes against a ball-hawking UConn defense. The running game still isn't there, and there isn't enough from Chris Jacquemain and the passing game. There's just no explosion right now on either side of the ball, but the Zips are still 1-0 in MAC play, and can quickly get back on track with Western Michigan, Temple and Buffalo up in the next three weeks.

Sept. 22
Akron 27 ... Kent State 20
Down 17-7, Akron outscored Kent State 20-3 over the final 21 minutes on two Igor Iveljic field goals, a one-yard Alex Allen run coming off a Reggie Corner interception, and a 26-yard Jabari Arthur touchdown grab. Kent State turned the ball over four times, but got up early with two Eugene Jarvis short touchdown runs and a 22-yard Nate Reed field goal before bogging down.  The Golden Flashes outgained Akron 375 yards to 245.
Player of the game: Akron LB Brion Stokes made ten tackles with a sack.
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Carlton Jackson, 7-20, 99 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Bryan Williams, 12-50. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 4-63, 1 TD
Kent State - Passing: Julian Edelman, 8-21, 155 yds, 2 INT
Rushing:
Eugene Jarvis, 28-159, 2 TD. Receiving: Derek McBryde, 4-81

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... An excellent second half from the defense against Kent State overshadowed a rough day from the offense. Carlton Jackson ran for a touchdown and threw for another, but he wasn't able to build on a nice day against Indiana and struggled to keep the chains moving. The ground attack isn't there, with a trio of backs all failing to crank out big runs. Bryan Williams outplayed Alex Allen and Dennis Kennedy, but not by much.

Sept. 15
Indiana 41 ... Akron 24
Indiana QB Kellen Lewis ran for 199 yards with touchdown runs from three and 17 yards, while James Hardy finally put the game out of reach with a 21-yard touchdown catch. The Zips hung tough all game long, and held a lead late in the second quarter, helped by a touchdown run and pass from Carlton Jackson. Jackson connected with Jabari Arthur for a 26-yard touchdown to pull within three in the fourth, but Lewis and the IU offense took over and the Zips weren't able to get back into scoring range.
Player of the game ... Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 19 of 24 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran 18 times for 199 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Carlton Jackson, 15-21, 200 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Carlton Jackson, 20-71, 1 TD  Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 7-118, 1 TD
Indiana - Passing: Kellen Lewis, 19-24, 137 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Kellen Lewis, 18-199, 2 TD  Receiving:
Ray Fisher, 5-10, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The run defense struggled for the second game in a row, and wasn't even close to stopping IU scrambling QB Kellen Lewis, but the Zips were in the game late. This was the first game Akron got a little bit of consistency from a quarterback, with Carlton Jackson all but cementing himself into the job. The big issue going into MAC play is the lack of support from the running backs. There needs to be more offensive balance.

Sept. 8
Ohio State 20 ... Akron 2
Ohio State turned it over five times and had an inconsistent day on offense, but a suffocating performance from the defense kept it from being close. Akron managed just 69 yards of total offense and three first downs, but got on the board first with a safety on a stop of OSU RB Chris Wells. And then Wells went wild, running for 143 yards while the Buckeyes got points from two Ryan Pretorius field goals and second half Todd Boeckman touchdown passes. Brandon Saine caught a six-yarder in the third quarter, while Brian Robiskie scored from 13 yards out in the fourth.
Player of the game ... Ohio State RB Chris Wells ran 20 times for 143 yards.  
Stat Leaders: Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 12-20, 48 yds
Rushing: Carlton Jackson, 3-10  Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 4-32
Ohio State - Passing: Todd Boeckman, 14-23, 131 yds, 2 TD< 2 INT
Rushing:
Chris Wells, 20-143  Receiving: Brian Hartline, 6-43

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Ohio State's defense might be among the best in the country, but there's still reason to be concerned. Very concerned. The Zips haven't gotten any decent play from the quarterbacks yet, and the running game has been non-existent. It wasn't like the O line gave up a ton of sacks to skew the stats, it only allowed three for 22 yards, the rushing just wasn't there. The Ol line needs to make some huge improvements over the next few weeks, and QB Chris Jacquemain has to make more plays, or this will be a long season.

Sept. 1
Akron 22 ... Army 14
Akron scored the first nine points of the game as a big opening kickoff return set up a 23-yard Igor Iveljic field goal and Reggie Corner picked off a pass for a 74-yard score. Army answered with a three-yard Wesley McMahand touchdown run, but the Zips came right back with two more Iveljic field goals and a 19-yard Jabari Arthur touchdown catch. Army finally got back on the board in the final minute with a blocked punt for a score.
Player of the game: Akron WR Jabari Arthur caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Army- Passing: David Pevoto, 23-43, 184 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Wesley McMahand, 21-84, 1 TD. Receiving: Jeremy Trimble, 7-70
Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 14-24, 125 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Dennis Kennedy, 13-72. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 11-125, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While beating Army to open the season is nice, Akron has to be a little bit concerned that the running game didn't do a bit more. The Black Knight defensive front is an issue, but the Zips never took full advantage. Jabari Arthur became uncoverable catching 11 of Chris Jacquermain's 14 completions, and now other options have to emerge since Ohio State will be sure to blanket him next week.

Sept. 1 - Army
Offense: Last year, Army used a veteran offensive line to work the running game behind while the passing game struggled. Now it has to be the other way around. The backfield, while banged up in spring ball, is solid, the line will be a work in progress. The passing game needs to improve hoping for top-prospect Carson Williams to turn into the leader and playmaker everyone's expecting him to become, or else David Pevoto has to take over the reins and be consistent. No matter who's under center, the interceptions have to slow down. Jeremy Trimble leads a potentially strong receiving corps.
Defense:
The defense has spent most of its time trying to survive. Now it has to start making big plays in all areas after coming up with just 11 sacks, four interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Everyone at every spot can tackle, motor and toughness is never a problem, talent is always the issue. There's good experience and size up front, Caleb Campbell, when he returns from a knee injury, will be one of the nation's most productive safeties leading a decent secondary, and the linebacking corps, in time, will put up plenty of big tackling numbers once new starters Brian Chmura and Frank Scappaticci get comfortable. Overall, the defense has to do a better job of dictating the action instead of letting things happen and trying to make the play.


Sept. 8 – at Ohio State
Offense: You don't get better after losing Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Antonio Pittman, and, oh yeah, some quarterback who won a Heisman and owned Michigan. While many will predict doom and gloom, the offense might crank out close to as many yards as last year when it was 26th in the nation as long as Chris Wells holds up and becomes the running back everyone's expecting him to be, and new starting quarterback Todd Boeckman is merely above average. The receiving corps is talented, but untested, while there's plenty of reason to be excited about a line that'll field one of the best starting fives in the nation. Tackles Alex Boone and Kirk Barton and guard Steve Rehring will be first day draft picks. Welcome back to Tressel ball with more running and fewer shots taken down the field.
Defense: A question mark last year thanks to a ton of turnover, the defense reloaded and should be fantastic as long as the tackles and safeties shine and a second corner emerges on the other side of Malcolm Jenkins. There are stars to build around, with Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis and end Vernon Gholston among the best in the country, while there are emerging stars, as always around OSU, in like linebackers Larry Grant and Ross Homan and end Lawrence Wilson. Don't expect too many bells and whistles; this D will beat teams by simply being far more athletic.

Sept. 15 – at Indiana
Offense: The IU spread offense has the pieces in place with rising star quarterback Kellen Lewis about to come into his own as a leader, and a good receiving corps to put up big numbers, led by James Hardy. There's speed at running back, but Marcus Thigpen and Demetrius McCray have to be more productive. The X factor is the line, which the late Terry Hoeppner did a great job of putting together in the 2006 recruiting class. Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon are just two who should upgrade the front.
Defense: The IU defense has struggled over the last few years to slow anyone down, but now the youth movement should produce results. The goal is to bend but not break, and now there has to be less breaking. It's still a young overall group, but there's experience and potential, especially at corner where Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors should be among the Big Ten's best. There's little proven pass rush up front, while the linebacking corps is small and quick by design.

Sept. 22 - Kent State
Offense:
The Kent State offense was all pass, no run in 2005 (and it was really no run). It was all run, little pass in 2006. Now the ground game should be even stronger with the 1-2 rushing punch of Eugene Jarvis and Greg Keys along with the mobility of QB Julian Edelman. Four starters return to a line that needs to be better in pass protection, and a go-to receiver has to emerge with the loss of WR Najah Pruden. In the end, it'll all come down to Edelman. If he's playing well, the offense will shine.
Defense:
Somewhat quietly, Kent State had one of the MAC's best defenses last season getting into the backfield, and to the quarterback, on a regular basis, while getting a phenomenal statistical season out of the secondary. CB Jack Williams and SS Fritz Jacques are good defenders to build around, but the rest of the secondary is a question mark. The front seven, in KSU's 3-4, should be excellent led by tackle Colin Ferrell and the Buck, the hybrid of end and linebacker, Kevin Hogan, should be one of the MAC's top pass rushing terrors. The D won't be as good as last year, but it won't be bad.

Sept. 29 – at Connecticut
Offense: For two years running, the Husky offense has been painfully inept, particularly in the passing game.  Tyler Lorenzen was recruited from the ranks of the junior colleges to specifically address that vertical shortcoming.  His arrival pushed D.J. Hernandez to slot receiver and set up a heated competition with sophomore Dennis Brown that’ll resume in August.  While quarterback is a question mark, running back is not.  Sophomore Donald Brown exploded on to the scene in 2006 with almost 700 yards and five scores in a torrid five-game stretch to finish the season.  With a bunch of linemen back, he’s poised for a monster season in an offense that still uses the run to set up the pass.
Defense: The bend-but-don’t-break Huskies snapped like a toothpick in 2006.  The main culprit was a run defense that couldn’t slow down anyone not named Rhode Island.  Things don’t get any easier this year, as the unit will be looking for ways to replace both of last year’s starting tackles.  Uh-oh.  Led by senior linebacker Danny Lansanah and junior corner Darius Butler, the back seven will be picking up a lot of the slack on Saturdays.  Expect the pass rush that produced only 11 sacks in the final eight games to get a spark from the returns of junior Cody Brown and sophomore Lindsey Witten, disruptive ends that’ll be on the line together for the first time in September.

Oct. 6 – at Western Michigan
Offense: The parts are there, and now the production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch. Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as average as it was last year.
Offense: It's not a big D, but it's very quick, very disruptive, and very good. After a big year, the MAC's number one defense gets eight starters back. The line will get in the backfield early and often with the return of Zach Davidson and big-play tackles Nick Varcadipane and Cory Flom. The secondary is loaded with speed and experience with all four starters returning after helping the D pick off 24 passes. The big concern is at outside linebacker after losing Ameer Ismail and Paul Tithof, but Austin Pritchard is a rising star and Dustin Duclo is good in the middle.

Oct. 13 - Temple
Offense: There was a little bit of improvement; the offense averaged 10.92 points per game after averaging 9.73 in 2005. There's plenty of experience and a major infusion of talent at running back and receiver, but can any of them play? The attack will rely on several true freshmen all over the place while praying for a major, major improvement on the offensive line. The quarterback situation is solid with Adam DiMichele and Vaughn Charlton each good enough to start after seeing plenty of time last season. Whatever happens, the offense will average more than a nation's worst 215.67 yards per game.
Defense: The good: The D improved giving up nine fewer yards and four fewer points per game than in 2005. The bad: The Owls were 117th in the nation in total defense and 118th in scoring D. The 2008 version should be tremendous once all the freshmen and sophomores are crusty veterans, but for now, there's good competition at almost every spot with no sure-thing starter. The defensive line should be far better with an instant infusion of talent, while the back seven has potential, especially at linebacker, to make a big jump in production. It would be nice if a true shut-down corner could quickly emerge with the hope that JUCO transfer Tommie Williams will be that guy. Don't expect miracles, but the overall numbers should improve.


Oct. 27 – at Buffalo
Offense: The overall offensive production improved from ten points per game to 18.33. Now the attack has to be more consistent and explosive, and that all comes from the offensive line. It's a big, experienced line that has to give the promising skill players a chance to do their thing. UB can win with QB Drew Willy and RB James Starks, but they haven't had any chance to show what they can do with no time or room to work. Naaman Roosevelt has to be used somewhere. If he's not the starting quarterback, he'll provide a boost to a mediocre receiving corps.
Defense: Last year was a big transition year with several young players getting time as the scheme was switched from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3. Size is sacrificed for speed almost everyone, but there are big backups at tackle. Now the production against the run has to be better. Getting into the backfield won't be an issue as UB could be among the MAC's leaders in sacks and tackles for loss led by senior Trevor Scott on the end. The secondary has the potential to be far better if safeties Kareem Byrom and Mike Newton, along with rising corner Kendric Hawkins, can spend all their time trying to make plays against the pass instead of always having to deal with the run.


Nov. 2 – at Bowling Green
Offense: The offense went from being all-pass, no-run in 2005 to being a running team last year thanks to mobile quarterbacks in Anthony Turner, and early on, Freddie Barnes. Now there's a battle between Turner and Tyler Sheehan for the starting job with the hopes of balancing things out. The backfield should be excellent with the addition of JUCO transfer Eric Ransom to go along with power of Chris Bullock and Dan Macon. All-star center Kory Lichtensteiger leads a a good line that should get better and better as the year goes on. The one area of development will be receiver with some deep threats needing to emerge to go along with mid-range possession-target Corey Partridge.
Defense: Bowling Green might not always be a brick wall on defense, but it will do whatever it can to make plays all over the field. Last year this was a break-but-don't bend defense giving up points, but not yards. Now it needs to stiffen. With an emphasis on speed and quickness, the front seven will be flying around looking to get into the backfield to dictate the tempo, while the solid secondary will benefit. There might be problems against the better power running teams with a new set of tackles and smallish linebacking corps, but that'll be offset by the big plays ... at least that's the hope.


Nov. 7 - Ohio
Offense: You know the fastball is coming, but can you hit it? Ohio will try to add more passing to the attack, but this is a running team that'll pound away with Kalvin McRae behind a good, though not as good as last year, offensive line. The attack has to be more versatile after being stuck in the mud against the good teams on the schedule, and that's where new starting quarterback Brad Bower comes in. He'll be looking to add more passing to the mix, but he doesn't have a great receiving corps to work with. The tight ends will get more involved this year to try to keep things moving.
Defense: The defense made a night-and-day improvement from 2005, and should be among the best in the MAC again if replacements can be found for the three star linebackers and All-MAC corner T.J. Wright. The defensive line is big and active, and it needs to be stronger against the run. Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with All-MAC end Jameson Hartke leading the way. The safeties will be fantastic leading a deep and talented group. It's all up to the linebackers, who have talent, but are relatively inexperienced and haven't stayed healthy.

Nov. 14 – at Miami University
Offense: It's all about the offensive line. The front five was hit by injuries last season and the whole machine broke down with no running game, an obscene amount of sacks, and not enough of a passing game. Now the line is experienced with decent depth, the running backs should be solid as long as Brandon Murphy is over his ankle problems, and Mike Kokal has the potential to be the MAC's most effective all-around quarterback. And then there's the receiving corps. With Ryne Robinson gone, there's no proven number one receiver, but there's a boatload of speed on the outside in Dustin Woods and Armand Robinson. While they'll make big plays, someone has to become a go-to guy.
Defense: There were huge concerns about the defense going into last season with only two returning starters, but the lumps taken against the run and against way too many mediocre offenses should pay off in a return to the days when MU had one of the MAC's best defenses. While just six starters are back, there are more than enough promising options at several positions to create good overall competition and have more depth than there's been in a long time. The pass rush needs to be better with Craig Mester needing to get back to form to help out junior end Joe Coniglio. Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins form one of the MAC's best 1-2 linebacking punches, while the secondary should be one of the team's strengths led by speedy corner Jerrid Gaines and veteran safety Robbie Wilson.


Nov. 23 - Central Michigan
Defense: Statistically, the defense struggled throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense, but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Offense: Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets. The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key starters, but it'll be fine.

 


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