2009 Akron Preview - Offense
Akron QB Chris Jacquemain
Akron QB Chris Jacquemain
Posted May 15, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Akron Zip Offense

Akron Zips

Preview 200
9 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Akron Preview | 2009 Akron Offense
- 2009 Akron Defense
| 2009 Akron Depth Chart
- 2008 Akron Preview | 2007 Akron Preview
| 2006 Akron Preview

What you need to know: After being a major disappointment for two years, everything started to click last season. While it wasn't an explosive attack, it was steady, solid, and great at picking apart teams with the spread, quick style, and now it has a great offensive coordinator in former Miami University head coach Shane Montgomery. The strength is a line that gets four starters back, with the new guy, Jake Anderson, a fantastic tackle prospect, while the top four receivers are back. QB Chris Jacquemain is a smart two-year starter who has a good command of the attack, and he should be terrific with the line in front of him and with all the weapons he has to work with. The one question will be at running back, where Dennis Kennedy is gone after running for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns. Alex Allen was fantastic for three games last season before getting knocked out for the year with a hip injury, and if he's fine, the running game will be solid.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Jacquemain
231-399, 2,748 yds, 20 TD, 14 INT
Rushing: Alex Allen
32 carries, 152 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Deryn Bowser
64 catches, 785 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Chris Jacquemain
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior RB Alex Allen
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Jake Anderson
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Corey Woods
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Woods, 2) Jacquemain, 3) WR Deryn Bowser
Strength of the offense: Experience, Line
Weakness of the offense: Health, Sure-thing running backs


Projected Starter: Senior Chris Jacquemain took over the starting job last year and turned into the leader and the playmaker the attack needed completing 58% of his throws for 2,748 yards and 20 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. At 6-2 and 215 pounds he's not particularly tall or big, but he's a tough runner when he has to take off and is tough to bring down. A quick decision maker, he should be even sharper with two years of experience and with a good line to protect him.  Now the key will be to keep the interceptions in check, which he did for the most part with ten of the 14 coming in three games against Ball State (loss), Kent State (win) and Temple (loss).

Projected Top Reserve: Looking to push Jacquemain for a little bit of playing time is sophomore Matt Rodgers, who's coming off a nice spring where he looked like a playmaker to build the future around. He's 6-2 and 205 pounds with a strong, accurate arm, but he needs work after not throwing a pass yet in game action. While he's mobile, he's not a runner.

A pair of redshirt freshmen are fighting for the No. 3 job, but it's not been easy with both out this spring hurt. 6-2, 215-pound Jordan Miller is the more talented of the two and will compete for the starting gig next season. He's a bomber, while 6-2, 195-pound Jared Wackerly is a slightly more mobile option.

Watch Out For ... Rodgers. He's not going to knock Jacquemain out of a job, but he was good enough this off-season to get some consideration for more playing time in more than just blowouts.
Jacquemain's consistency. He threw for 200 yards or more in every game but two, and while he didn't put up monster numbers, he never cracked 300 yards, he was solid.
: Jacquemain's off games. While he was good throughout the season, when he was bad, he was really bad. Again, ten of his 14 interceptions came in three games, and now he'll need to avoid those meltdowns.
Outlook: The passing game isn't going to bomb away and there won't be a slew of big plays, but there will be lots of dinking and dunking and a few hot streaks when everything is clicking and Chris Jacquemain can't be stopped. Backup Matt Rodgers is more than solid and is ready to start if needed.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starters: With Dennis Kennedy and his 1,321-yard, 17 touchdown season gone, the offense desperately needs a new back to step up and produce. Senior Alex Allen has the talent, but he can't be counted on for a full season after struggling through a knee injury two years ago and having problems this spring with hip injury. At 6-0 and 205 pounds, he's a tough, compact runner who finished third on the team with 152 yards and three touchdowns, with a 103 yards and two scores against Syracuse, in three games before getting knocked out for the year. A good power back who's excellent around the goal line, he has the toughness to go along with the speed and the hands to be used in a variety of ways once he's healthy.

Projected Top Reserves: Part fullback and part big tailback, 5-11, 220-pound senior Joe Tuzze will start out the year playing behind Allen once he's healthy. A good blocker and a decent short yardage back, he ran for 67 yards and caught an eight yard pass, but was out this spring hurt and didn't get a chance to show he could do more.

Adding more flash to the mix will be Nate Burney, a 5-6, 160-pound junior who can be used as a change of pace back and as a receiver. He hasn't seen any work yet, but with al the injuries in the backfield, he'll be needed throughout the year.

Louisville transfer Dale Martin is supposed to become a big factor, but he has to get healthy after suffering an Achilles tendon injury. the 6-0, 195-pound sophomore was a top recruit for the Cardinals, but he redshirted after getting injured and now will try to come back and be the main man for the Zip running back at some point this year. When healthy, he's quick with a great burst.

Watch Out For ... a rotation. In a perfect world, Allen becomes a faster Dennis Kennedy and is the workhorse the team works around. However, his injury history makes him hard to count on for a full season, meaning as many as five other backs could see time in a committee approach.
Hungry runners. It was all Kennedy al the time last year, with former No.2 back Andrew Johnson getting a little work. Allen was fantastic before he got hurt, while Martin is looking to show he can produce when called on and Tusse is looking for more work.
Reliability. Kennedy and Johnson handled 295 of the team's 435 carries last season, with QB Chris Jacquemain getting 55 carries. Three of the top backs going into the year missed time this spring hurt, and there will be more bumps and bruises this year.
Outlook: Stats-wise, the running production was better than it's been in years thanks to a huge season from Dennis Kennedy and a reduction in the sack totals. The line will pave the way, but now there needs to be a back worthy of getting the workload. If Alex Allen can last a full season, he'll be a 1,000-yard back, but there will likely be a rotation of backs to share the work.
Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: Back to lead the way for the receiving corps as the team's most reliable target is Deryn Bowser, a 6-1, 210-pound senior who led the team with 64 catches for 785 yards and four scores. The former JUCO transfer made 109 grabs in two years for Los Angeles Harbor College, and he came to Akron to start; he had several offers from bigger name places. He came up with ten catches for 72 yards and a score in the loss to Cincinnati and was steady all year with three catches or more in every game but one. Now he has to return to his spot on the outside X position after suffering a concussion that kept him out this spring.

5-11, 180-pound Andre Jones is a fifth-year senior who's trying to come back from a knee injury. A game-breaker, he led the team with seven touchdown grabs and was second on the squad with 47 catches for 678 yards. He scored twice against Syracuse and Eastern Michigan, and while he's not as steady as Deryn Bowser, he's more explosive.

Back at his spot on the H is Jeremy Bruce, a 5-9, 195-pound senior who started every game last season and finished fourth on the team with 29 catches for 345 yards and a score. The transfer from West Virginia is a big-time speedster who hasn't broken out yet. His biggest catch last year was just 27 yards and he ran for just 53 yards on 18 carries, but he has the wheels to do far more.

When the offense used a tight end, as opposed to a fourth receiver, it'll be 6-6, 240-pound redshirt freshman Rhyne Ladrach getting the call. Very athletic and with great hands, he could quickly become one of the team's most reliable go-to targets and a safety valve who keeps the chains moving. He's a good route runner despite his lack of experience.

Projected Top Reserves: When the Zips got to a four-wide set, which is often, Dashan Miller will get on the field after starting eight times last year and finishing with 16 catches for 187 yards and two scores. The one-time UTEP Miner went the JUCO route to Akron, but he suffered a broken arm and wasn't able to put together a full season for Bakersfield CC. He's a 6-1, 200-pound big-play weapon who'll be used more.

Is Nadir Brown ready? Originally considered a top-shelf safety prospect, the 6-5, 200-pound redshirt freshman has tremendous size and is physical. A potential matchup nightmare, he'll work on the X behind Deryn Bowser and could be a great combination of field stretcher and goal line specialist if he uses his size to his advantage.

While redshirt freshman Andrew Colosimo can catch, he'll be a blocker in two tight end sets. The 6-5, 275-pounder is extremely physical and will help pound away for the ground game. Eventually, he could be moved to the defensive line to take advantage of his size and athleticism.

Watch Out For ... Ladrach. It'll be had for the tight ends to get too many passes thrown their way with an experienced receiving corps returning, but Ladrach has a nice enough combination of size and hands to be part of the fun. There could be games when he exposes the middle of the field and comes up with big numbers.
Experience. The team's top four wide receivers return with size, speed, and a whole bunch of experience. Now that they all know what they're doing in the offense, and now that they have a rapport with QB Chris Jacquemain, there should be even more production.
Health. The two main stars, Andre Jones and Deryn Bowser, were out this spring, and while they're expected to be fine this summer, it would hurt in a big way if either one missed significant time.
Outlook: The receiving corps was an unknown going into last year, and it stepped up in a big way and came through across the board with Deryn Bowser and Andre Jones turning into nice producers. There's enough returning talent spread the ball around and keep the focus off of any one player, and the tight end could be used more if Rhyne Larach can show early on that he can produce.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters:
Who's going to replace all-star anchor Chris Kemme at left tackle? Corey Woods, a two-year starter at right tackle, will make the move over to the left side where he's ready to be in the spotlight and become an All-MAC star. The 6-5, 305-pound junior is big, quick enough to handle himself on the left side, and strong is pass protection.

Also working on the right side is Mike Ward, a 6-5, 295-pound senior who started every game over the last two years at guard. A producer from day one, he has worked through his early lumps and has turned into a nice run blocker. Versatile enough to play center if needed, he's one of the key pieces for the front five.

6-3, 295-pound senior Elliott Bates stepped in and started when forced into action in 2007 and didn't give up the job over the last two years. While he's not the blocker that Woods and Ward are, he's a steady producer who knows what he's doing. One of the lines most athletic players, he's good on the move and is versatile enough to see time at guard if needed.

6-4, 310-pound senior Zack Anderson started every game over the last two years at right guard, and while he's not a special blocker, he's been good and steady. A star recruit when he came to the program, after getting several good offers from bigger schools, he hasn't quite grown into the all-star he was expected to be, but he's a positive all-around blocker on the veteran line.

Ready to become a major factor is Jake Anderson, a tremendously talented sophomore who'll take over for Corey Woods at right tackle. At 6-5 and 305 pounds, he has good size and has the potential to be an all-star early on with athleticism and good strength. He could become the anchor sooner than later.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Casey Estrada was a top recruit coming over from the JUCO ranks, and he was expected to push for a starting job early on, but he was redshirted in 2007 and was a backup at left tackle behind Chris Kemme last year. Now he'll be the main tackle reserve behind Corey Woods with 6-4, 295-pound size and the maturity to step in and produce when needed.

While Elliott Bates isn't going to give up the starting spot any time soon, if he ends up moving over to guard for a pinch, and with the job to be open next year, sophomore Dan Ronsman will be groomed for the spot. The 6-4, 290-pounder is good in pass protection and is a smart option in the middle. He'll be ready to roll next year.

Watch Out For ... Woods to be an all-star. It's hard to get too much attention at right tackle, especially when there was a star in Chris Kemme on the other side, but now he'll be the team's best blocker and will earn All-MAC honors.
: Experience. For the second year in a row, four starters are back with the new guy, Jake Anderson, an all-star waiting to happen on the right side.
Backups. The starting five has been such a rock for the last two year that it's been hard for the reserves to get in any work. Not only did all five starters see most of the time in 2007, but there wasn't a change in the lineup in all of 2008 with the five starters going coast to coast.
Outlook: The line was fantastic last season and even with the loss of all-star Chris Kemme, it should be better this year. Knock on wood, the O line is the one place on the team the injury bug didn't hit, and now it should be a cohesive rock that could be the strength of the Zips if Corey Woods shines as expected at left tackle and if Jake Anderson is solid at right tackle.
Rating: 6