Welcome to the next chapter of the University of Akron’s quest to win a national championship in NCAA Football 14. To learn more about this series and read up on past installments, visit the About page of this site.
Let’s recap some of the key points from Year 3:
- QB Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington led the Zips to an unexpected MAC Championship but the season ended with a loss in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
- We had the #51 recruiting class in the country. The stars of the class being JUCO QB Darius Patterson (86 OVR), JUCO HB Jeremy Shelton (81 OVR), and 4-star HB Keith Wallace (74 OVR).
- Coach Luke is now a Level 13 coach with all of his skill points going into the Recruiting skill tree. He often wears a fancy suit to dazzle all of the recruits that he talks to.
As a reminder, before we go into Year 4, I do not play any of the games in this series. I do the recruiting and either simulate or watch the computer play the actual games for me.
Zippos, let’s get lit.✓
In the preseason, I get to redshirt players, set a custom schedule, and fill up our initial Recruiting Board with prospects to target.
The notable redshirts for Year 4 end up being:
- QB Darius Patterson (JR, 86 OVR)
- RB Ryan West (SO, 76 OVR)
- RB Keith Wallace (FR, 75 OVR)
- CB Dave Utley (JR, 72 OVR)
- C Anthony Thornton (FR, 70 OVR)
On the recruiting front, the game lets me know that my official recruiting needs this year are to get 1 OLB and 1 WR. Easy enough.
When I do an initial search of the recruiting landscape, I am shocked to find that there are three 5-star players and two 4-star players that have Akron in their top 10 schools. The times they are a changin’.
The 5-star players are QB Andrew Fountain (82 OVR), QB Jon Weaver (79 OVR), and WR Robert Dawson (77 OVR). It makes total sense that QBs want to come to our school given the rise of K-Dubs. While we have tons of QBs on the roster, they’re mostly Juniors and Seniors. I target these 5-star studs, but we’ll see what happens.
The rest of our recruit board is defense-heavy this year. We’re targetting players at basically every defensive position and just trying to improve.
The last part of preseason is making the custom schedule. I end up putting UL-Lafayette on the schedule as revenge for our bowl loss. I put Cincinnati on it because of reader TooMuchDad’s suggestion that we try to defeat all of the Ohio schools eventually.
I also want to put a ranked team on the schedule. I choose #18 Maryland because they seem more beatable than other ranked teams when I scout them out.
Year 4 Roster
You can read about the personalities on the team in the Year 4 Preview post or you can just click the images below for a closer look at our starters.
Year 4 (2016-17)
Our season opens in Week 1 as we travel down to Lafayette, Louisiana. We are facing the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns as revenge for them beating us in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Our team is rated at 77 overall this year. We continue to improve each year as my recruiting labors pay off. It should be noted that we’ve taken a step back on defense. I’m expecting most games to be shootouts this year as our Zips rate 83 in offense but only 71 in defense.
Pulling off this upset on the road would be a great way to start the season. We have to win games like this if we are to take a step forward this year.
I simulate the game and anxiously await our fate.
We win a 37-31 game!
That’s the kind of game I expect this year: lots of offense from both teams.
There’s no time to celebrate though as Week 2 brings us our first game against a ranked team under Coach Luke.
Week 2: #18 Maryland Visits Akron
We are hosting #18 Maryland. They’re rated 86 overall with an 83 defense. We have an 83-rated offense so I hope we can compete in a shootout.
I watch and record the game to give us all the pleasure of seeing K-Dubs and the Zips play their first ranked team.
As a reminder, I do not play these games. It is CPU vs CPU. I watch and cheer and scream and hope.
As usual, I edited down the game footage. A lot happens in this game though. The video ends up being about seven minutes:
Crazy crazy game! All the games I record tend to be nutso, and I really hope the games on our future Twitch streams match this sort of excitement.
If you skipped past the video: we won 39-30 in a comeback victory! It’s a similar score to our first game and it is likely how this whole season will go: all offense, no defense.
I can’t actually fault the defense in this game though as they got 3 turnovers and made stops when we most desperately needed them to. One way or another, we beat a ranked team!
I thought we’d be lucky to go 2-2 in non-conference play but we’re already 2-0 out of the gates. We have a bye week for our boys to party and recover. Then it’s back to work.
Weeks 4 through 8
Our first game out of the bye week is in Ames, IA to face Iowa State. They end up handing us our first loss: 17-14. The defense actually showed up but our run game just couldn’t get going.
On the recruiting trail, it is early but the three 5-star recruits seem to actually like us. Both of the 5-star QBs are not getting other offers and, despite not recruiting them heavily, they seem like they want to come to Akron. We’re also in the front of the line for two 4-star recruits, T John Brown (75 OVR) and MLB Mark Dorsey (68 OVR).
In Week 5, Cincinnati travels to Akron and we hope to send a message to the state Ohio. I invite out a bunch of recruits as I want them to commit as early as possible so I can clear them from my recruiting board as that helps us focus on recruits we’re in tight races for.
Unfortunately, we lose the game 45-35.
We do get our first commits after the game though. 2-Star JUCO CB Trevor Hill (70 OVR), 3-Star DT Steve Bonner (68 OVR), and 2-Star CB Brad Franklin (66 OVR) all come aboard the Zip train.
As for other recruits, we seem very likely to land these players:
- 5-Star QB Andrew Fountain (82 OVR)
- 5-Star QB Jon Weaver (79 OVR)
- 4-Star MLB Mark Dorsey (68 OVR)
- 3-Star OLB David Dailey (66 OVR)
- 2-Star WR Antoine Kent (65 OVR)
- 2-Star WR Jerod Cook (64 OVR)
- 3-Star C Nic Jones (65 OVR)
There are also a ton of guys that I’m fighting to get but we’ll check back in on recruiting later.
In Week 6, I decide not to record our game against our rivals Kent State as I had done in the past. Is this a bad omen?
Yes! We lose 38-35 and now drop to 2-3 on the year.
On the bright side, 5-star QB Andrew Fountain commits to Akron after the game! He is the #3 QB in the nation! Little ol’ Akron is a QB factory now. Darius Patterson is the next QB in line for us but we’ll only get two years out of him and then ol’ Andy Fountain will be the Zips QB for many years. Our first non-JUCO stud QB! I’m ridiculously hyped about this!
We still have to play games this year though, and the next two games are worrisome as both Ohio and Toledo are rated 81 overall to our 77.
We end up beating them both in shootouts (34-28 to Ohio and 37-34 to Toledo). This is Year 4 Akron Zips football at its finest! Points points points! Everywhere you look!
Coach Luke levels up to Level 15 and gets a fine grey suit. We max out our ability to create Pipeline states, making those easier to achieve for us. If we have three players in from a state, it is considered a recruiting pipeline for us and gives us bonuses when we recruit players from there.
This is how his coaching skills look at this point:
The next game is the Rodney Van redemption game as he is playing against his old Bowling Green team for the first time since he transferred to Akron.
We win 38-31 and make Van proud! Send us more players please, Bowling Green.
We’re getting hot and are now 5-3.
Week 10: Mid-Season Recruiting Update
We’re a real threat on the recruiting circuit this year. Kenneth Washington has made us a destination school for scrambling QBs. We already signed the #3 QB in the country, Andrew Fountain, and he’s fascinating. He’s an 82 overall prospect going into his soon-to-be redshirt freshman year. He’s got 96 Throwing Accuracy so he’s not going to only be a runner. The #2 QB in the country, Jon Weaver, is very likely to commit as well, despite me barely putting any recruit points into him.
I recognize a crazy problem we have moving forward: too many good QBs on the roster. Future Zips quarterbacks may leave early for the draft though, and that makes it important to keep this pipeline going.
Aside from our QB craziness, we also have recruited #6 MLB Mark Dorsey from St. Marys, OH and his high school teammate 3-star OLB David Dailey. Our defense is slowly getting repaired.
Here are all of our commitments at this point:
We don’t have any defensive ends committed yet and that’s the main area I’m targetting in our final stretch here. I am putting a lot of recruiting points into 3-Star DE’s Kevin Jean (70 OVR) and Eric Jansen (70 OVR). In addition, I’m adding some 4-star players to our recruiting board if they aren’t getting targetted by other schools. They represent a chance for us to sneak in and get some talent.
Weeks 10 through 14
Our last four games in MAC play involve teams that I think we can beat. None of them are rated higher than us. It’s conceivable that we sweep these games and finish the regular season 9-3. K-Dubs is now rated 98 OVR entering this stretch of games.
The bad news is that we are in second place in the MAC East because Miami has not lost a conference game yet. We may have to win all four of these games to make the MAC Championship.
The four games go like this:
- UMass – W 35-21
- Buffalo – L 38-21
- W. Michigan – W 31-7
- E. Michigan – W 31-0
The Buffalo game was an unfortunate turning point in our season. We went up big early but they went on a 35-0 run and ruined our season. We end up with two conference losses while Miami only had one. They go to the MAC Championship instead of us.
Bummed? Distraught? Flummoxed? I’m all those things.
Expectations are a hell of a drug. Not long ago, I would have been thrilled with an 8-4 season. This year? It’s not enough. I wanted the MAC to remain named the MAKRON.
On the national circuit, K-Dubs doesn’t get Heisman consideration and the Heisman instead goes to QB Buck Lamb from Nebraska. So it goes. K-Dubs finished the regular season by passing for 210-327, 2727 yards, 26 TD, 7 INT and rushing for 956 yards, 7 TDs.
The season isn’t over though as we do get a bowl invite!
We are headed to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to face a 6-6 Hawaii team rated 81 to our 77. We can’t win the MAC this year but we can still take a step forward for Coach Luke by winning his first bowl game.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Readers, I really want this. We’ve seen some level of improvement each year and the only way this year can be better than Year 3 is if we win a bowl game. I want the big famous Idaho potato, baby.
I call an emergency press conference. K-Dubs is about to have his last game and there are also players I need to call out. Times are serious, and a suit must be worn.
With Kenny McKinney and Eric West publicly shamed and K-Dubs eulogized, we now play our final game of the year on Boise State’s smurf turf. The video is condensed down to scoring plays and turnovers. It is three minutes long:
We win… 75-13!
I jokingly predicted we’d score 51 points in the press conference and, um, we scored 45 points in less than a quarter and a half to start the game.
We went into halftime up 52-6, then quickly went up 59-6 then 62-6 then 65-6… I was just watching to see how insane it would get. Before the 3rd quarter ended, K-Dubs had set the school record for rush yards in a game (297)… It was crazy.
The two guys I called out in my press conference both had interceptions, with Kenny McKinney even returning one for a TD. The press conference magic works.
K-Dubs ends his career with a legendary performance: 13-17, 126 Yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 30 rushes, 319 Yards, 1 TD.
I must repeat: the score of the game was seventy-five… to… thirteen. We had 756 total team yards to their 171. This was in a frickin’ bowl game, people. Coach Luke clearly used this Potato Bowl game to send a message to the country:
We are done messing around.
I’m so jacked up for Year 5 now.
On the national circuit, Ohio State defeats Miami to win the national championship.
I was unsure how I’d feel about this season after the MAC title eluded us but the way we dominated the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl has me feeling like this was a great year.
K-Dubs personally ensured that we enter the national conversation before he left. It’s great.
To start the offseason, I helped K-Dubs pack up his college apartment. LeBron James showed up and helped as well and was wearing a K-Dubs jersey. It was at that moment that I started to realize we’ve truly arrived. I asked LeBron how he’s been but it was, once again, an awkward conversation and felt kinda forced. It was nice that he helped K-Dubs move though.
With moving day out of the way, the work of the offseason begins.
Our two coordinators agree to contract extensions. This is wonderful. OC Chris Wall is Level 10 and DC Mike Jennings is Level 9. Those are both pretty decent levels to be at, and it gives many bonuses to our offensive and defensive player ratings.
We only lose six players to graduation and one to transfer. Not bad. I try to persuade K-Dubs to not graduate and play past his senior year but alas…
K-Dubs is drafted in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. The NFL gets their first Zip from Coach Luke. So long, buddy.
In the offseason recruiting, our job is mostly done by this point since we recruited well in the regular season. We only have four scholarships remaining to offer.
I spread our 10,000 recruiting points to five guys and hope we get four of them. I feel most confident about the #2 CB in the country, 4-star Anthony Morris, coming our way so I don’t overload points into him. I also really want 3-star DE Clayton Reid because we would lose a pipeline to New Jersey if we don’t sign him.
Here’s how we allot the points:
We get those first four and don’t have any scholarships left for Pugh anyway. Three 4-star players and a 3-star player that saves our New Jersey recruiting pipeline! A beautiful ending to this season.
Some may have doubted Coach Luke’s magical suit and its recruiting powers but listen:
We end up with the #4 recruiting class in the nation with two 5-stars, four 4-stars, thirteen 3-stars, five 2-stars and a 1-star.
Here’s what our final class looks like:
This season looked kinda grim before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It has now turned into a blissful dream with an amazing recruiting class prepping us for a future title run.
In the Position Changes week, I have three Athletes that I need to assign a position to. Andy Cooper goes to FS and is rated 73 there. Edward Daniels and Anthony Rawlins become WRs and they are rated 79 and 76 there respectively. Rawlins will be a 6’5” beast of a WR in the future.
In the Cut Players week, we have to cut 18 guys. That’s the downside of our great recruiting work. The saddest cut is our first-ever recruit, QB Eric “Little Dubs” Washington. The team has gotten too good to have a place for him. We also cut our first 4-star recruit WR Pat Brown. This was all painful stuff. I hate it.
As we head into Year 4, our roster is deep. Here’s a glance at our top players:
Year 5 is going to be a big one. We likely have a good chance to get nationally ranked for the first time. We need to win the MAC again. MAKRON, baby. But, an unexpected dilemma has emerged…
Who is our QB? I thought it would obviously be Darius Patterson but Cortez Haumiller ranks higher than him overall going into his senior year. Darius is the better running threat, but here’s how they rate in throwing abilities:
- Cortez: 95 Awareness, 79 Throwing Power, 89 Throwing Accuracy
- Patterson: 82 Awareness, 86 Throwing Power, 85 Throwing Accuracy
This is a tough call and will obviously play a big part in the Year 5 outcome. Part of me wants to get Patterson on the field so he can improve for his senior year, but it’s hard to ignore how good Cortez has become.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on who should start.
Also, ideas for the custom schedule are always welcome. I looked ahead to our recruiting options in Year 5 and we don’t have any 5-star or 4-star players interested in us out of the gates this time. We need to start impressing the country with some big wins.
Final housekeeping notes:
- Reader Jaltus suggested having this series broken into three weekly parts: a yearly preview, a yearly games recap, then a yearly recruiting recap. I like this idea. Which means:
- Year 5 Preview will come in the next few days.
- Year 5 Games Recap will come shortly after, and the Year 5 Recruiting Recap will come the day after that.
- If Twitch streams become a part of our future, we’ll figure out exactly how they tie into all of this too. Follow me on Twitch here.
- If you’re a fan of this series and like graphic design, hit me up as I’d like to create a little banner for this newsletter. My email is email@example.com.
We’re entering Year 5 and it feels like we’re putting the pieces in place for a future championship. It’s very exciting!
Hop on the Rubber City Dynasty subreddit and make predictions, give me advice, or make fun of me and my silly press conferences. If anybody wants to be a mod to help pretty that place up too, let me know.
Either way, share this newsletter with your karate teacher and whoever else you’d like.
Until next time, keep zippin’.