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Game 9 Thoughts


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We could have really used the bye week after the Kent game, but it’s finally here. This week will give the staff an indicator of which players are still invested and which ones they might need to think about showing the door at the end of season. It’ll also allow them to work with the younger players and give them 1st team reps for a few days as well as the coaches a chance to hit the road recruiting. I’m expecting some new offers to be issued this week.

 

As far as the Miami game, kinda same ole same ole. My reactions throughout the game tend to be “Ok, good. Looks like we cleaned that up,” to “Very nice. We are playing that well today,” to “Wtf was that?! Why?? No way he’s coached to do that.” Plenty of upperclassmen on the roster but still a ton of inexperience when it comes to game time and being coached properly (outside of this season) so it makes us look like a young team at times.

 

Offense:

- We continue to get placed in crappy field position when starting drives. It causes us to string together long drives which lowers the chance of scoring success.

- 3 turnovers is a killer, especially when the defense doesn’t create any.

- We saw the gamut of DJI - the good and the bad. As he goes, so does the offense.

- Hope DJI doesn’t get hurt in the first half of the next game because Undercuffler decided to make himself unavailable.

- Miami’s defense was really good as expected. 
- The OL was not great by any stretch, but they did create holes at times. When that happens the RBs must make someone miss in close space and that rarely happened. I put those situations on the RBs. The short yardage failures are a collective fail and I’m including the play-calling in those situations.

- Adams came alive late, but we could have really benefited from him making a few of those catches earlier.

- The adjusted final yardage of 396 to 268 is a tough pill to swallow when only scoring 9 points.

 

Defense:

- Defense was actually solid for parts of the game. We even held them to only 2 third down conversations. The issues came on explosive plays and giving up key downs within drives.

- Cornerback play was borderline atrocious against the pass. Golden-Nelson looked like he hadn’t played in a few weeks. Hooks looked like he reverted back to bad habits. Durant gives it his all, but he’s constantly picked on by opposing offenses. Having Amankwaa jet for the portal hurt us this week.
- Safety play was solid for the most part, but they did make a handful of mistakes.
- If I’m mistaken, Terry lost the TE twice for big gains at the LB spot, but he may have thought he had help over the top.

- Harper and Holt were very active. Good to see Harper get a sack. Thomas and Wilson caused some havoc in garbage time.

- Bubba was Bubba.

- I’ve said this before, but Lewis has learned to disguise his blitzing extremely well.

 

 

Some problems won’t be fixed by anything except recruiting at this point. I hope this team can regroup after the bye and give one last push to finish out the season strong.

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This week's advanced box score tells the story very well once again: https://collegefootballdata.com/boxscore/401416631

 

I wouldn't call Akron's out-gaining of Miami completely meaningless or shallow, though it is certainly not a moral victory. It is important to realize that Akron plays a successful offensive system, with a QB that can be successful in that system by using his arm and his legs. Okay, so the QB and passing game is successful. That leaves RBs and run game, defensive front stopping the run, defensive front creating pass-rush, defensive backs stopping the run at the 2nd level, and defensive backs creating havoc in the pass game. It also leaves FG kicking, punting, and kickoff/coverage. So yes, those yards matter, but everything else does too, and this program has a long way to go.

 

After letting the game stew in my head for the last couple of days, I am coming out of it more optimistic than I did on Saturday around 4:00p. While I do agree with coach that a step back was taken Saturday, I think it was pretty much bound to happen at some point. Sure enough, it came against a good team that has been disappointing for a lot of the year. The Doctor has ordered our last few struggling opponents a prescription for a game against Akron, and they took it as directed.

 

I agree that the defense played well and has played better lately, it just isn't a good defense by any stretch. I have a hard time putting into words what I feel about this defense. It kind of reminds me of high school hockey. In the state playoffs in Ohio, the juggernaut hockey teams play the worst teams in the state in the first rounds of the tournament. Most of the games are 10-0 mercy rules, but a few of them go down to the wire or end in crazy upsets. How do they do it? They are completely overmatched, but they decide to focus all they have on playing defense and not allowing the opponent to score at all costs. Any goals the worse team scores would be lucky or thanks to a breakaway. They expend all of their energy just keeping the opponent in front of them, and laying out to stop goals at all costs.

 

Does that analogy make sense at all? I don't know. But when I watch Akron play defense, I see a front 7 that is capable of stopping RBs at the line at best, if not allowing 4-5 yard chunks on a good day. I see a front 7 that can get a pair of lucky sacks on a blitz that isn't picked up every once in a while, or they make the QB scramble after looking downfield for 4-5 seconds. I see a pass defense that prays for bad throws, prays for bad/simple routes, and prays that receivers don't get behind them. What does that all mean? This defense doesn't make plays, at least not many. Teams can pretty much have their way as long as they execute. Akron has had much worse defenses in the last 5 years, no doubt. But this one lacks playmakers. We will struggle or be lucky to win games without playmaking on defense. They don't force turnovers. Most of the few turnovers we've seen this year were thanks to mistakes from the other team or luck. Off the top of my head, the 2 turnovers at Liberty and the first pick at MSU are the only forced turnovers of the year. Morton had a shot against CMU, but the stripped ball went OB. Slim pickins. With that said, schematically, I don't have too big a problem with the defense. They just need better players, and hopefully the recruits & portal can make this an average MAC unit in 2023.

 

As for the offense, I still have faith that they can somehow take one of these last 3 games. Worse teams with worse coaches (see 2021 Akron Zips) have done it, I'm hoping these guys can. One win would feel like 10 at this point. I am not great at analyzing offensive line play, but from what I saw Saturday, I must say I am in love with Kamarii Landers. That's not to say he's perfect, and he may have not have had a great game, but Akron hasn't had a true freshman offensive lineman look that good in a very long time. I wish we could fast forward to 2024 to see the other freshman join him along with a JoeMo QB in the backfield, a Sr. Alex Adams, etc. Speaking of Adams, on that first drive he definitely should have caught that ball over the top. It was a tough play, but he beat his man and DJ put it on the money. Maybe he lost it in the sun, I don't know. But that could have made the game quite a bit different. Also, the George fumble on the big catch is just icing on the Growing Pains cake. Just sucks, as one of the best plays of the day became one of the worst.

 

Special teams are a mess. Gettman is an okay punter, he's not quite as reliable as I would like. The Miami punter was straight $ and hammered that thing downfield. I also don't understand the inability to keep the kick inbounds or kick it out of the end zone. 

 

After the last 4 years, it feels good to be disappointed and upset after an 18-point blowout. Last year, Akron lost home MAC games by 17, 35, and 38, including a road loss by 35, and you can throw in the ass-kicking at the hands of a bad Temple team at home. So Saturday pretty much continued to follow that silly Bowden mold. In year one, Akron has lost close in most games against similar competition level, with 18 being the big-loss outlier. I am still as hopeful as ever for the future, but I have pretty much come to grips with this team simply not being ready to win. They are fairly consistent, just not consistently good enough. We can still play spoiler a little bit here, and perhaps pick up a historic for the program win at NIU to close out the year. 

 

I'm disappointed with the make-up of the WIN/LOSS column, as it's been tough to have sad beers after all these games, despite many of them being close. I want at least one happy post-game beer before the end of the year. Just one! But my excitement level in Joe and the future of this program is as high as it has ever been. It's just about time to see what a full offseason and recruiting season with this staff in place can do, and that is without a doubt very exciting. 

 

Go Zips!

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