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2008 Akron Preview - Offense
Akron OT Chris Kemme
Akron OT Chris Kemme
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 11, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Akron Zip Offense

Akron Zips

Preview 200
8 - Offense
 

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

What you need to know: The offense has been a mega-disappointment over the last two seasons with nothing working on a regular basis last year. The big issue was the quarterback play that failed to keep the offense moving, so now the pressure is on Chris Jacquemain to step up his play now that he's unquestionably the main man. The ground game should be better with Dennis Kennedy likely to be back to his sophomore year form, while there are good reserves waiting in the wings. The receiving corps might not have any sure things, but with top safety Andre Jones and West Virginia transfer Jeremy Bruce stepping in, it'll be interesting. The line could be the best in the MAC if it can stay healthy.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Jacquemain
154-275, 1,623 yds, 11 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Bryan Williams
152 carries, 728 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Bryan Williams
22 catches, 204 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OT Chris Kemme
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Chris Jacquemain
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Jeremy Bruce
Best pro prospect: Kemme
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Kemme, 2) RB Dennis Kennedy, 3) WR Andre Jones (FS)
Strength of the offense: Line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Production

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: With Carlton Jackson transferring to Morgan State, the two quarterback system is over and junior Chris Jacquemain is the man. The team's leading passer last year, the 6-2, 215-pounder threw for 1,623 yards and 11 touchdowns with ten interceptions, and while he's a decent runner, he didn't do much of it. Even though he stunk in the spring game, he was far more consistent and far more accurate this off-season.

Projected Top Reserve: Looking to push Jacquemain for a little bit of playing time, while hoping to solidify the No. 2 spot, is 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman Matt Rodgers, who has nice passing skills and is likely the starter in 2010. He's an accurate passer, but he's not going to run too often.

Watch Out For ... Jacquemain to be more accurate, but with more interceptions. He'll have a bit more on his plate this season as he's allowed to throw deeper, and while he'll make more big plays, he'll also make more mistakes. It might take a little while to get on the same page with the new receiving corps.
Strength
:
Passers. Jacquemain and Rodgers are good throwers who could each develop into more polished passers as the season goes on, while JUCO transfer K.C. Patterson is pure passer.
Weakness
:
Backups. With Jackson out of the picture, the backup situation is Rodgers and Rodgers. The offense will be turned over to a redshirt freshman is something happens to Jacquemain.
Outlook: It's all up to Jacquemain to step up and be the leader of the offense. First, he needs to improve a woefully inefficient passing attack that was last in the MAC. He might start pushing the ball deeper, but he'll also have to take a few chances to jump start the offense. The backup situation is an issue after Jackson transferred.
Rating: 5


Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior Dennis Kennedy ran for 914 yards and nine touchdowns, and caught 39 passes, in an impressive 2006, but he wasn't consistent. Even so, he was expected to blossom as a junior, but he only ran 46 times for 156 yards as he was unceremoniously booted our of the running game rotation. Now the 5-11, 205-pounder will try to resurrect his career after a good off-season and the move of Bryan Williams to the secondary. He has good power, decent speed, and excellent hands, and now he has to use all his skills as the focal point of the offense.

5-11, 215-pound junior Joe Tuzze was a top high school tailback who got a little bit of work in last year rushing for 55 yards and catching six passes for 35 yards. While he's not a pounder, he'll be the fullback leading the way for Kennedy and will occasionally be used as a short-yardage specialist.


Projected Top Reserves: 6-0, 210-pound junior Alex Allen overcame a knee injury to play in every game last season and finish as the team's second leading rusher with 420 yards and seven touchdowns, highlighted by a three score day against Ohio. He's a good power back, especially around the goal line, with excellent speed and the hands to be used more as a receiver.

Ready to make an impact is 5-10, 215-pound senior Andrew Johnson, a transfer from Miami (the Florida version) who had an impressive off-season. A huge recruit for the Hurricanes, he got hurt with a bad knee injury and then got lost in the depth chart shuffle. He has the home-run hitting wheels to go along with his good size.

5-10, 220-pound Matt Harmon is a slightly bigger fullback option behind Tuzze. He won't see any carries, but he should see time on special teams and be used as a blocker from time to time.

Watch Out For ... Johnson. Give it about ten minutes before he becomes the team's star back. Even with the knee injury suffered early in his career, he has the tremendous deep speed to give the Zip attack a missing dimension.
Strength
:
Fast options. Kennedy is quick, Allen has good speed, and Johnson is a potentially dangerous home run hitter. The Zips have more home run potential than they've had in a long time.
Weakness
:
Reliability. After the way Kennedy struggled last season and with Allen and Johnson still needing to prove they can handle big roles, it's not like the nation's 90th best running game can assume things will be better just because the talent is there. It would be nice if everyone was more involved in the passing game.
Outlook: The running game hasn't been effective over the last few seasons, but the potential is there to be far better with three good options led by the hopeful reemergence of Kennedy. If Johnson is the player he was supposed to be before getting hurt, he could be the MAC's breakthrough player. How promising is the running game? Leading rusher Bryan Williams was moved to the secondary.
Rating: 6


Receivers


Projected Starters: Senior Andre Jones finished second on the team with 79 tackles and had a fantastic year as a punt returner averaging 14.5 yards per try. The 5-11, 185-pound speedster was a huge hitter and a key piece of the secondary, but the receiving corps desperately needs a playmaker and could use his toughness and experience to provide a spark for the passing game.

Expected to make an immediate impact is junior Jeremy Bruce, a 5-10, 200-pound transfer from West Virginia who saw time as a running back as well as a receiver. He's a big-time speedster who never fit in with the Mountaineers but could become a key factor from day one.

6-4, 250-pound senior Merce Poindexter isn't a big blocking tight end, but he's an athletic receiver who has grown into one of the team's leaders. A veteran who has seen plenty of action over his first three years, he needs to be used more after making 13 catches for 133 yards. He has the hands and the route running ability to do far more. 

Projected Top Reserves:
6-2, 215-pound JUCO transfer Deryn Bowser is expected to step in and push for a starting spot right away. He made 109 grabs over the last two years for Los Angeles Harbor College, and he came to Akron to start; he had several offers from bigger name places.

Junior Brandon Williams was supposed to come back and make an impact last season but he hasn't seen much playing time over the last two seasons. At 6-1, 180 pounds, he has decent size and good speed, but he'll have to show he should see the field over Jones at one of the spots.

Seniors Stephon Fuqua and Alphonso Owen will combine to push for time behind Bruce. The 6-1, 205-pound Fuqua finished third on the team with 20 catches for 155 yards as a possession receiver, despite having the top-end speed to be more of a gamebreaker.

The 5-10, 175-pound Owen made 14 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown, but most of his work came in the middle of the season and was all but forgotten about during most of the year. The former JUCO transfer is a physical target with good athleticism.

Backing up Poindexter at tight end is 6-5, 240-pound sophomore Jose Cruz, a good prospect three years ago who hasn't done anything yet for the offense. He has good size and he's a nice receiver and a willing, tough blocker.

Watch Out For ... Bowser. The offense desperately needs the star JUCO transfer to live up to his billing. It's not like Jones will go back to the secondary right away, but it would be a plus if the option remained open.
Strength
:
Speed. There's no questioning the wheels in the Zip corps. This might be the MAC's fastest group of receivers, but this was also a speedy bunch last season and it didn't matter much.
Weakness
:
A number one. Jabari Arthur caught 86 of the team's 201 completions, and former running back Bryan Williams was second on the team with 22. It's uh-oh time if Jones can't make the transition to receiver and if Bruce doesn't produce.
Outlook: Losing Arthur is a killer for a passing game that didn't do nearly enough to spread the ball around or scare anyone deep. There's tremendous upside with prospects like Bruce and Bowser, but it's also an old corps with Fuqua and Owen in now-or-never time for their careers. Even with all the uncertainty, there's no reason to finish 100th in the nation in passing with this group.
Rating: 5.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Once again, the star of the line will be 6-6, 305-pound senior Chris Kemme, who was the anchor of a rebuilding line last year and should be a shoo-in for All-MAC honors for the third straight year. He was the one the team ran behind for nearly every big run, and he was a tremendous pass protector. He's the rock of the offense at left tackle.

6-3, 305-pound sophomore Mike Ward was the main man at left guard last year. Inexperienced when the year began, he started every game and grew into a better and better run blocker. One of the team's most versatile linemen, he's a good athlete who can play either guard spot or center.

Junior Elliott Bates stepped in and started one game for Mike Schepp last season, and now the job is his. The 6-4, 295-pounder is one of the lines most athletic, fastest players, and now he has to show he can be a steady quarterback up front. He also got a start at right guard last year.

6-4, 305-pound junior Zack Anderson started every game but one at right guard, but he missed time this spring hurt. A star recruit a few years ago, he had several good offers and was a big coup for the Zips. He's been fine, but he has yet to be a special blocker.

Next to Anderson will once again by Corey Woods, who started every game at right tackle and turned into a promising player. The 6-5, 300-pound sophomore took his lumps early, but he got far better as the season went on and now should be a rock, especially in pass protection. First he has to get healthy after missing time this off-season hurt.

 

 The lone returning starter is a good one. 6-6, 300-pound junior Chris Kemme earned all-star honors last season as one of the few solid all-around blockers. While he's a good pass protector, he's great for the running game. Outside of him at left tackle, all bets are off.

Coming out of spring ball, two seniors appeared ready to take over on the inside with the emergence of 295-pound center Jim Holley and 315-pound Mike Schepp at right guard. Schepp has seen starting time throughout his career at both tackle and guard, but he's far better suited for the inside considering his physical nature and lack of all-around athleticism. Holley has seen enough time to not be too green in the full-time role, but he'll be pushed hard to keep the job.

Sophomore Keith Huebner might be a little green at right tackle, but he's 6-7, 300 pounds, and extremely talented. He has all the tools to become a rock for the next three years after learning how to play at a leaner, meaner weight; he dropped almost 50 pounds before last season.

300-pound redshirt freshman Mike Ward will likely take over the left guard spot, and while he's inexperienced, he'll benefit from having Kemme next to him. He's a good athlete who's expected to grow into a strong run blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Casey Estrada was a top recruit coming in from the JUCO ranks and was originally expected to push for a starting job, but he wasn't needed and redshirted. The backup behind Kemme at left tackle going into this year, and the likely starter next season, the 6-5, 290-pounder will spend the year as a key understudy.

With the only open starting spot at center, and with Bates good enough to move over to guard if injuries strike, there might be a spot for 6-3, 290-pound redshirt freshman Dan Ronsman to see time early on. A great pass protector and a smart option for the middle, he'll be a starter sooner than later.

Watch Out For ... this to be one of the MAC's better lines. Kemme is a good one to build a line around, while several players like Ward and Woods are ready to grow into major producers.
Strength
:
Experience. Four starters are back with only one start missed by Kemme, Ward, Anderson and Woods. Bates is more than experienced enough to step in at center and be solid.
Weakness
:
Backups. The starting five was such a rock last year that there wasn't much time for the depth to develop as much as the coaching staff might have wanted. That wasn't a problem this spring with several injuries to the starting five allowing the backups to see key reps.
Outlook: Don't blame the line for the problems of the offense last year. The run blocking wasn't all that great, but it was a good wall in pass protection and it should be even better this year with all the returning experience. The key will be to get everyone in healthy after a rough spring that saw Ward, Woods and Anderson missing time hurt.
Rating: 6