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2009 Akron Preview - Offense
Akron QB Chris Jacquemain
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Akron Zip Offense
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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
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
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
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
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 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
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.
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
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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
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.
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.
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.
Strength: 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
Weakness: 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
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
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.
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.