Akron: An early look ahead

It's only April, but, soon enough, Army's season-opener at Akron on Sept. 1 will be staring us right in the face. It's a big game, obviously, and the result will have a big impact on the Black Knights' 2007 campaign. Keep in mind, Army hasn't won a season-opener in 11 years.

It's never too early to dissect an opponent. So here is an inside look at Akron, Army's first conquest this fall.

QB comparison: Like Army, Akron has concerns at quarterback. Luke Getsy, an NFL prospect graduates in May, leaving redshirt freshman Carlton Jackson is listed at No. 1 on the depth chart.

Jackson, 6-foot-2, 195-pounds, played in just one game last year. Sophomore Chris Jacquemain and redshirt freshman Sean Hakes are listed behind Jackson on the depth chart. Jackson, a lefty, has a decent arm, but could make a huge impact with his scrambling ability out of the pocket.

He is expected to get a fierce fight for the job from Jacquemain.

Missing weapon: Army might not have to worry about a formidable deep threat when it plays the Zips.

Sophomore wide receiver David Harvey isn't practicing with the team during spring drills. He is away due to personal matters and it's unclear when he will return to the team. You never want to see a kid sit out. So let's hope Harvey returns, that is, after the Army game. Harvey was named to the 2006 Scripps/Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American team as a kick returner and The Sporting News selected him for its first-team Freshman All-America squad as a kick returner and an honorable mention wide receiver last season.

He caught 43 passes for 914 yards and averaged 21.3 yards per catch and set a Akron freshman record with 10 touchdown receptions. Rebuilding up front: Another Akron-Army similarity. The Zips are starting all over on the offensive line. Only 6-6, 300-pound left tackle Chris Kemme returns to the starting lineup.

Stacked on 'D': Akron returns eight starters on defense, including its top six tacklers. The Zips, who finished 5-7, ranked fifth out of 12 teams in the Mid-American Conference, giving up 322.4 yards of offense per game last year. Akron was also was fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (136.2) and fifth in passing yards allowed (186.2.) The Zips run a 3-3-5 scheme.

"Coming out of last year, we are focused on the defense doing more to win games," Akron defensive coordinator Jim Fleming said. "Our challenge is to score on defense, create more turnovers and be stingy. I have been pleased with the number of turnovers we have been able to force so far."

The player to watch on defense for Akron is senior John Mackey, who led the Zips with 88 tackles last year. He returns as a rover, meaning he plays as both an outside linebacker and a defensive back.

Stay tuned for more Akron news as the season approaches. Go Army! Beat Akron!

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