Week 2: Akron Zips

NC State faces Akron in a huge game for both teams. The Zips return 16 starters from last year's MAC championship team, including talented signal-caller Luke Getsy.

BACKGROUND
Location: Akron, OH
Enrollment: 22,000
Nickname: Zips
School Colors: Blue & Gold
Stadium: Rubber Bowl (31,000)
Conference: MAC

2006 TEAM
Head Coach:
J.D. Brookhart
Record at Akron: 13-12 (3rd year)
2005 Record: 7-6
2005 Bowl: Motor City (L, 38-31)
Starters Returning: 16 (8 offense, 8 defense)
2006 Preseason Ranking: None

Akron Scouting Report

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Luky Getsy, QB – Getsy, a consensus preseason first-team All-MAC selection, ranked 22nd nationally (fourth in the MAC) in total offense (263.5 ypg) in 2005. Getsy, named to the Davey O'Brien Award watch list, was also 15th nationally in completions (21.38 pg) and had some solid outings down the stretch.

One of his best games of 2005 came in the Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26), when he threw for career-highs in completions (34), attempts (59) and yards (455). The attempts and yards rank No. 1 in UA history. His passing efficiency of 144.78 was the second-highest of his career. In Akron's first-ever MAC title game (Dec. 1 against NIU), Getsy went 30 for 50 with 413 yards (No. 3 in school history).

He entered 2006 ranked fifth nationally among returning QBs in passing yards, sixth in completions (21.4 pg) and tied for sixth in TD passes. Getsy completed 22-of-42 passes for 160 yards in the opener against Penn State, tossing one touchdown and two interceptions.

Jabari Arthur
Jabari Arthur, WR – The junior is Akron's No. 1 wide receiver, but he will have some big shoes to fill as last year's starting wideouts - Domenik Hixon and Jason Montgomery - accounted for nearly 75 percent of the receptions by the receiving corps last season. Hixon and Montgomery ended their playing days among the top 10 in school history in career receptions (Hixon - 2nd; Montgomery - 6th).

Arthur, who has 53 career catches, did haul in eight receptions for 180 yards in the 2005 Motor City Bowl. The 180 receiving yards was a Motor City bowl record.

He recorded four catches for 57 yards in the season opener.

Dennis Kennedy, RB – The sophomore made his first career start vs. Penn State, and he tallied 59 yards rushing and a careerh-high eight catches.

Kennedy replaces two-year starter Brett Biggs, who racked up 2,101 career rushing yards (No. 9 in school history). Kennedy played in 12 games last season, rolling up 150 yards on the ground. Much like Biggs, who had 65 receptions last season, Kennedy catches the ball well out of the backfield. He posted 14 catches a year ago.

John Mackey, ROV – The Zips welcome back nine of their top-11 tacklers from a year ago, and Mackey is the leading-returning tackler, with 95 stops. Mackey posted a team-best eight stops vs. Penn State and forced a fumble which led to the Zips' first touchdown.

He is a physical run-stuffer who likes to play close to the line of scrimmage in Akron's unique defensive scheme.

John Mackey

Jermaine Reid, DE – One of the MAC's top defensive linemen, Reid tallied seven sacks in 2005, and is fifth among returning MAC players in sacks. He didn't record a sack against Penn State, but will looking to pick up his first of the season against the Wolfpack.

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Reid is a rangy lineman, and he might be Akron's best athlete on the defensive side of the ball.

Kiki Gonzalez, DT - A consensus first-team preseason all-conference selection, Gonzalez has tallied 25 straight starts. Tabbed the No. 18 defensive tackle in the county by The Sporting News, Gonzalez is a run-stuffing defensive tackle who takes up space and occupies blockers.

Akron Game Notes

AKRON VS. THE ACC
Saturday's matchup with North Carolina State will be the Zips fourth-ever meeting with a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Akron faced Maryland and Virginia during the 2002 season, losing to the Terrapins, 44-14, and to the Cavaliers, 48-29. They also lost to No. 12 UVa, 51-0 in 2004.

STOPPING THE RUN
The Zips ended 2005 ranked 32nd nationally in total defense (339.8 ypg) and 71st in rushing defense (159.0 ypg). With a veteran line back, the Zips are attempting to make a point of doing a better job stopping the run this season and they started out on the right foot. Akron held Penn State to 76 rushing yards (on 27 carries) last Saturday, the first time the Zips have held a Big Ten opponent under 100 yards rushing since moving to the I-A ranks in 1987 (nine games). They also held 1,000-yard rusher Tony Hunt to 36 yards on 14 carries (2.6 ypc). NC State comes into this weekend 28th nationally in rushing after posting 208 yards on the ground vs. Appalachian State.

MAKING THEIR DEBUT
Eleven players made their first-ever appearance in a blue and gold uniform in the season opener at Penn State, including three true freshmen. WR David Harvey was impressive with three receptions for 41 yards, with a TD catch in the fourth quarter. P John Stec had to contend with a wet ball and was backed up on his own goal line several times, but did an admirable job with a 33.3 punting average. DB Wayne Cobham got in on the action as a member of the special teams unit. After sitting out last year, sophomore DB Andre Jones has earned the starting spot a free safety and finished with six solo stops in the game. He also returned three kickoffs for 67 yards, including a long of 26. Junior Matt Domonkos has taken over the place-kicking duties for the Zips and got his career off to a fast start with a 46-yard field goal on his first-ever collegiate kick. Although he did see limited action as a backup last season, sophomore Dennis Kennedy made his starting debut at tailback, finishing with 59 yards on 25 carries, including a punishing 4-yard TD run to bring Akron back to within eight in the third quarter.

BROOKHART IN THIRD SEASON
Head coach J.D. Brookhart is in his third season at the helm of the UA football program, after leading the team to a 7-6 record last year, which included a MAC East title, MAC Championship game victory and first-ever berth in a Division I-A bowl game, the Motor City Bowl. That earned him the MAC Coach of the Year Award by College Football News. A year earlier, the Zips posted a school-record six MAC wins and came within one game of their first-ever MAC East Division title. Brookhart, the 2004 MAC Coach of the Year, spent the previous seven years with the Pittsburgh Panthers, including the final four as offensive coordinator. This is his first head coaching job at any level and he is just the fifth Zips head coach since the 1960 season. Brookhart's record in 2004 ranked third among the 14 new Division I-A head coaches.

A YEAR OF FIRSTS FOR THE ZIPS
A little over nine months ago, Akron won its first Mid- American Conference title and first league crown in school history with a 31-30 win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game (Dec. 1, 2005). A week earlier UA picked up its first MAC East crown with a 35-3 win over Kent State. The Zips entered the league for the 1992 campaign and they finished tied for first in the division in 2000 (in 1997 the league split into East and West Divisions), but lost to Marshall early that season to lose the tie-breaker. They also lost both West Division games that year when the cross-over games did not count in the league standings. In fact, Akron, which started playing football in 1891, had never won a conference title at any level. As a member of the college division (through 1973 season), the Zips played in the Ohio Athletic Conference from 1915-1935 and 1948-1965, and while in Division II they played in the Mid-Continent Conference from 1978-79. They moved on to the Ohio Valley Conference from 1980-86 when Akron was in Division I-AA. The Zips moved up to Division I-A in 1987 and played as an independent until 1991. They have been close to a title, however. UA finished second in the OAC in 1930, 1961 and 1962 before tying for second in 1965, Akron's final season in the league. They also ended the 1978 campaign second in the MCC and finished second in the OVC in 1982 before tying for second in 1983 and 1985.

GONZALEZ ON THE LOMBARDI WATCH LIST
Senior defensive lineman Kiki Gonzalez was one of 101 players named last month to the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list, which honors the top lineman in college football. This year's list is almost evenly divided between offensive and defensive players, with 54 defenders and 47 offensive players currently listed. Gonzalez joined five other Mid-American Conference players on the list, including Central Michigan's Dan Bauzin, Northern Illinois' Doug Free, Toledo's John Greco, Western Michigan's Ameer Ismail and Ohio's Matt Muncy. Gonzalez, one of the top run-stoppers in the league, was a second-team All-MAC choice in 2005. He is a consensus 2006 preseason first-team All-MAC selection.

GETSY NAMED TO O'BRIEN WATCH LIST
Senior quarterback Luke Getsy was one of 34 student-athletes named to the preseason watch list on Tuesday, Aug. 28 for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, presented annually to the nation's top college quarterback. Getsy, the holder of 22 school records, is just one of two Mid-American Conference players on the list (Phil Horvath- Northern Illinois), and it is just the second time in school history that an Akron player has been named to the watch list, joining Charlie Frye in 2004. Semifinalists will be announced in early November as voted upon by a selection committee, with the field narrowed to three finalists before announcing a winner on ESPN's Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 7. The O'Brien Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in the country for college quarterbacks and is named in honor of the late Davey O'Brien. Last year's winner was Vince Young from The University of Texas who led the Longhorns to the national championship.

NORTH CAROLINA TIES
Senior OL Tim Crouch and junior LB Brion Stokes will see some familiar faces on Saturday as both have ties to the state of North Carolina. Stokes hails from David Butler HS in Charlotte, N.C. and will have family and friends on hand for the day. Meanwhile, Crouch will see a familiar face on the opposite sideline as his cousin, Curtis Crouch, is a sophomore offensive lineman at N.C. State.

VETERAN O-LINE
Last season the Zips had just one returning starter on the offensive line - left tackle Tim Crouch. Crouch is back again and this time joined by four more starters in seniors (LG) Mike Donaldson, (C) Andy Wills and (RG) Andy Alleman, as well as sophomore (RT) Chris Kemme. All four of last year's new starters received valuable experience, including Kemme who was a true freshman. This unit has made 79 career starts, led by Crouch who has started 34 of the last 35 games. The o-line should be a strength of the offense this season. They helped the Zips become just the 31st team in NCAA history boast a 3,000-yard passer (Luke Getsy), a 1,000-yard receiver (Domenik Hixon) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Brett Biggs) in the same season. They also allowed just 1.6 sacks per game (third lowest total in the MAC). Wills was the lone lineman to start all 13 games in 2005, though Donaldson was the only one of the five to miss time due to an injury. He missed the 2005 opener courtesy of a broken bone in his foot during preseason. Junior Mike Schepp could be considered a starter as well as in the opening lineup seven times in 2005, and played at both guard and tackle throughout the season. The Zips hope to develop depth behind those players.

TRENDS SINCE 2005

  • UA is 4-0 when winning the turnover battle. Akron defeated Ohio on Nov. 15 despite turning the ball over twice and forcing one turnover. The Zips entered the regular-season finale 104th nationally in turnover margin (-0.80), but collected a pair in the win over Kent State to move to 88th (-0.50). They did not turn the ball over vs. Kent State despite horrible field conditions, but did commit two vs. NIU (Dec. 1) and none vs. Memphis (Dec. 26). They ended the year 90th in the country in turnover margin (-0.54).
  • Akron is 7-0 when rushing for over 100 yards. The Zips had a season-high 228 yards on the ground in the win over Ohio (Nov. 15), rolled up 161 in the victory over KSU (Nov. 24) and had 105 vs. Northern Illinois (Dec. 1)
  • The Zips are 6-1 when posting three or more sacks. Akron posted a season-high five sacks three times (vs. NIU, Sept. 24; at Buffalo, Oct. 8; at Ball State, Nov. 5).
  • UA is 3-5 when the opposition rushes for over 100 yards. The Zips came out victorious over Bowling Green (Oct. 29) when the Falcons rolled up 193 yards on the ground. The Golden Flashes had 102 rushing yards in the loss to Akron. The Zips surrendered an opponent-high 250 rushing yards to NIU (Dec. 1), but came out victorious.

    Akron Depth Chart

    OFFENSE

    WR 12 Jabari Arthur (Jr., 6-4, 224)

    14 Johnny Long (Jr., 6-1, 180)

    LT 72 Tim Crouch (Sr., 6-3, 300)

    68 Mike Schepp (Jr., 6-4, 303)

    LG 73 Mike Donaldson (Sr., 6-5, 295)

    70 Garrett Brewster (So., 6-3, 315)

    C 63 Andy Wills (Sr., 6-3, 290)

    64 Jim Holley (Jr., 6-3, 301)

    RG 57 Andy Alleman (Sr., 6-4, 295)

    78 Zack Anderson (Fr.-RS, 6-5, 290)

    RT 74 Chris Kemme (So., 6-6, 290)

    77 Keith Huebner (Fr.-RS, 6-7, 295)

    TE 84 Kris Kasparek (Jr., 6-6, 260)

    83 Merce Poindexter (So., 6-4, 243)

    WR 18 Jermaine Lindsay (Fr.-RS, 6-1, 165)

    or 2 David Harvey (Fr., 5-11, 160)

    17 Brandon Williams (So., 6-1, 180)

    QB 16 Luke Getsy (Sr., 6-2, 220)

    7 Carlton Jackson (Fr.-RS, 6-2, 195)

    or 11 Chris Jacquemain (Fr.-RS, 6-2, 211)

    RB 3 Dennis Kennedy (So., 5-11, 209)

    35 Bryant McMillon (Fr.-RS, 5-10, 195)

    FB 33 Joe McDaniel (So., 5-11, 220)

    32 Joe Tuzze (Fr.-RS, 5-11, 225)

    DEFENSE

    DT 55 Jared Cecchetti (Jr., 6-2, 264)

    95 Nate Robinson (Jr., 6-5, 315)

    NG 97 Kiki Gonzalez (Sr., 6-2, 300)

    93 Eric Lively (So., 6-2, 270)

    DE 99 Jermaine Reid (Sr., 6-4, 275)

    56 Clarence McPherson (So., 6-3, 255)

    Bandit 54 Doug Williams (So., 6-2, 234)

    96 Mark Groza (Sr., 6-3, 227)

    Sam 43 Brion Stokes (Jr., 5-11, 220)

    7 Parris McNeal (Sr., 6-0, 200)

    Mike 30 Kevin Grant (So., 6-2, 245)

    47 Al-Teric Balaam (Fr.-RS, 6-1, 228)

    Rover 19 John Mackey (Jr., 5-10, 213)

    27 Wayne Cobham (Fr.-HS, 6-2, 190)

    CB 20 Reggie Corner (Sr., 5-9, 175)

    or 28 Brandon Anderson (So., 5-11, 170)

    FS 21 Andre Jones (So., 5-11, 183)

    8 Yamari Dixon (Jr., 5-8, 200)

    or 23 Rodney Etienne (Fr.-RS, 6-2, 190)

    SS 10 Chevin Pace (Jr., 5-10, 185)

    37 Jason Nedd (Sr., 5-10, 197)

    CB 28 Brandon Anderson (So., 5-11, 170)

    or 5 Davanzo Tate (Jr., 5-10, 185)

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    PK 39 Matt Domonkos (Jr., 5-8, 171)

    45 Igor Iveljic (Fr., 5-11, 200)

    P 38 John Stec (Fr., 5-9, 180)

    16 Andy Hildreth (So., 6-0, 185)

    KOR 28 Brandon Anderson (So., 5-11, 170)

    21 Andre Jones (So., 5-11, 183)

    PR 21 Andre Jones (So., 5-11, 183)

    14 Johnny Long (Jr., 6-1, 180)

    LS 49 Jason Giachetti (Sr., 6-1, 230)

    15 Brian Flaherty (So., 6-4, 235)

    H 19 John Mackey (Jr., 6-1, 180)

    7 Carlton Jackson (Fr.-RS, 6-2, 195)

    Specialists


    Akron Head Coach J.D. Brookhart with former quarterback Charlie Frye. (AP)


    Akron media relations contributed to this report.


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