2008 CFN Akron Preview
Akron SS/KR Bryan Williams
Akron SS/KR Bryan Williams
Posted Apr 11, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Akron Zips

Akron Zips

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Akron Preview | 2008 Akron Offense
- 2008 Akron Defense
| 2008 Akron Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Akron Preview
| 2006 CFN Akron Preview  

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Learn more about one of Akron's early opponents  2008 CFN Wisconsin Preview

The goal was for the program to turn the corner and become a consistent powerhouse after the stunning last-second win over Northern Illinois for the 2005 MAC title, but instead, Akron has lost its offensive groove, hasn't been consistent, and hasn't beaten a team that finished with a winning record over the last two years.

Head coach: J.D. Brookhart
5th year: 22-26
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 21, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Zip Players
1. OT Chris Kemme, Sr.
2. LB Kevin Grant, Sr.
3. NT Ryan Bain, Jr.
4. SS/KR Bryan Williams, Sr.
5. PR/WR Andre Jones, Sr.
6. DE Almondo Sewell, So.
7. LB Doug Williams, Sr.
8. PK Igor Iveljic, So.
9. RB Dennis Kennedy, Sr.
10. RB Alex Allen, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 at Wisconsin
Sept. 6 at Syracuse
Sept. 13 Ball State
Sept. 20 at Army
Sept. 27 Cincinnati
Oct. 4 at Kent State
Oct. 11 Bowling Green
Oct. 18 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 5 Toledo
Nov. 13 Buffalo
Nov. 22 at Ohio
Nov. 28 at Temple

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
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

Even so, Akron is on the move, literally, as it plays its final season in the Rubber Bowl before moving into one of the MAC's nicest new venues. While head coach J.D. Brookhart will certainly need to improve on the downward trend kicked in by a rough end to 2006 and a lousy 2007, he and his staff have certainly done its best to patch up the holes in a hurry.

The offense needed a playmaking receiver to take over for Jabari Arthur, so top defensive back Andre Jones moved over to the other side of the ball. The secondary needed some help, so leading rusher Bryan Williams made the move to strong safety.

The overall talent level needed an upgrade, so the coaching staff found former Miami Hurricane Andrew Johnson to help the running game, former West Virginia Mountaineer Jeremy Bruce to fill a receiver slot, and former Iowa Hawkeye Ryan Bain to anchor the defensive line.

One thing was proven last year, the coaching staff can change things around, taking the woeful special teams and making them great. Now they have to show they can improve an offense that was among the worst in the MAC, and help out a defense that gave up too many points in bunches.

The coaching is solid, the tradition is good, and the recruiting has been decent. Now it's time to see if it can all come together to form one of the league's surprise teams.

What to watch for on offense: The running game. Ineffective for long stretches last year, Dennis Kennedy appears to have regained his 2006 form, Alex Allen is a dangerous speedster, and Andrew Johnson could be a find. Most importantly, the line, with four starters returning, should be far better and should create the necessary holes on a more regular basis.

What to watch for on defense: The middle. The 3-3-5 is solid up the gut with Bain showing the potential to be dominant this spring, Kevin Grant one of the MAC's best middle linebackers, and Bryan Williams appearing to be a natural at strong safety. Now the outside defenders have to work around the middle men and flourish.

The team will be far better if … it can consistently throw the forward pass. In a league with passing-challenged teams like Kent State and Eastern Michigan, it's unforgivable to finish last in passing efficiency, but Akron managed to do it. The quarterbacks never found a groove, and that was with a star receiver in Jabari Arthur to throw to. Now the receiving corps is a big question mark.

The Schedule:
It'll be an interesting tale of two seasons with two weeks off giving the Zips time from mid-October to early November to heal up. The final three games will make or break the East season playing Buffalo, at Ohio and at Temple, while the Bowling Green showdown is at home. In a strange and bizarre twist, the Zips don't play defending East champion Miami University. Playing Eastern Michigan from the West is a plus. The non-conference schedule isn't all that bad outside of the opener at Wisconsin. Syracuse and Army aren't going to be special, and the Cincinnati game is at home.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Chris Kemme. After doing a great job of easing the transition up front last year, with several new starters needing to get their feet wet, now he's an anchor of a veteran crew that could be the best in the MAC. He's big, athletic, and has the potential to be a dominant blocker now that he has help from the other linemen.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Kevin Grant. This could quickly change as Bain, Brian Williams, and Almondo Sewell all have the potential to crank out huge seasons. Grant might not be as flashy, but the rock-solid veteran doesn't miss tackles and is the rock to work around.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Chris Jacquemain. He had to battle all year long with Carlton Jackson for the starting job and never got settled. Now Jackson is gone to Morgan State, and while Matt Rodgers is a promising young prospect, he's only a redshirt freshman. Jacquemain doesn't have to be fantastic, but he has to be steady and he has to keep the chains moving.

The season will be a success if ... the Zips come up with a winning season. Getting over the .500 mark used to be a given around Akron, but after two straight losing seasons, the team has to start winning the close games and it has to start beating the mediocre. There's too much athleticism and raw talent to win fewer than six games.

Key game: Sept. 13 vs. Ball State. It might be an interdivisional matchup, but it's a vital game for Akron's confidence. Ball State is supposed to be one of the MAC favorites, and if the Zips can pull off the tough home win in the MAC opener, it should set the tone for the league season. A win would make Akron a factor in the title chase.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 102 – Akron 37
- Punt return average: Akron 13.6 yards – Opponents 9 yards
- Average yards per game: Opponents 408.8 yards – Akron 311.7 yards