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Year 5 Preview: Let’s meet the 2017-18 Akron Zips

With the K-Dubs era over, Akron will have a new look to their roster in Year 5 of this NCAA Football 14 simulated dynasty.

Welcome to another roster preview to go along with our series about Akron’s quest for eternal glory in NCAA Football 14. For the uninitiated, feel free to check out the About page of the site to read what this whole project is about.

This preview is meant to give you a closer look at the team since there are so many players to know on a fictional football team.

We’re about to go into Year 5. After two tough seasons, the Zips won a MAC Championship in Year 3 but were unable to return to the MAC Championship in Year 4. The team didn’t go out quietly though as they had an epic beatdown of Hawaii in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to end last season. A nation now turns its eyes to Akron as we enter Year 5.

Meet the Offense

We had an incredibly efficient offense last year that was almost always putting up 35 or more points in a game. It was steady, reliable and the engine that carried our team last year. We’re better offensively this year at every position… except one.

Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington is gone as he is now set to become a star in the NFL. Our QB position will be worse but hopefully not substantially so.

We do have a true QB controversy on our hands though. We have Cortez Haumiller (92 OVR) and Darius Patterson (90 OVR) battling it out prior to Year 5.

The QB Controversy: Cortez Haumiller & Darius Patterson

There’s really one story to know about on offense this year: the battle between senior QB “Clutch” Cortez Haumiller and junior Darius Patterson. It will likely define our season.

The story of Cortez Haumiller has been talked about before. Here’s what I wrote in the Year 3 Preview about him:

He’s just a kid from the little Amish town of Ephrata, PA. He’s now loving being the big man on campus after a breakout freshman year. He was not a Coach Luke recruit, but he saved Coach Luke’s job in Year 2. Despite butting heads with the Coach at times, Cortez took the job from Carlson and gave us glimpses of a young Lamar Jackson.

Cortez will still be on the team after K-Dubs graduates, and he may get his chance to run the offense again. This likely isn’t the last we hear from the flashy running QB.

Here’s what he looked like back in the defining Year 2 season:

He went 4-4 in eight starts back then. It doesn’t sound like much to us now, but Coach Luke had a 2-14 career record prior to that point. That eight-game stretch changed everything in Akron. Given what Cortez has meant to us, it would seem obvious that he’d be our QB since K-Dubs is gone. But…

There’s Darius Patterson. In last year’s preview, I talked about how his arrival from the Tampa, FL area as a JUCO QB likely meant the end of Cortez. Darius seemed destined to be our next K-Dubs and give us an epic two-year run. This seemed to only motivate Cortez as he quietly became a better and better QB.

Entering this season, Cortez is rated 92 overall and Darius is rated 90. I posted a comparison of their ratings on Reddit for further discussion about these two. The readers remained fairly split.

Given that the decision wasn’t clear, I figured an eye test was the best way to decide this. I went into NCAA Football 14’s Practice mode and let our CPU offense play our CPU defense. I watched the QBs run a bunch of plays to see if I could figure out who deserves the starting job. Here’s my all-too-serious film analysis of them running the same plays:

What I found in that video is that Darius Patterson is the better runner and more gifted thrower, but Cortez Haumiller makes smarter decisions. That’s where the Awareness rating separates these two. This will be monitored game-by-game but, to my own surprise, it’s clear that Cortez should get the start in Week 1.

If this was Friday Night Lights then Cortez would now officially be our:

Make me proud, kid. Clear eyes, full hearts, and all that stuff.

Players Talked About In Previous Years

Here are players I mentioned in the past previews:

  • HBs Jeremy Shelton & Lance Atkins – The JUCO boys from rural towns that joined us as part of the K-Dubs craze.
  • WR Rodney Van – The turncoat who left Bowling Green for a chance to do something special in Akron.
  • WR Lorenzo Jackson – A high-character kid from Rhode Island that Coach Luke made a special trip to see.

Unmentioned Players

If you’re a naturally curious person and are wondering about some of the players who haven’t been talked about yet, here’s a link to an image gallery showing the ratings for the following players:

  • TE Tom Allen
  • LT “Very Mean” Joe Greene
  • LG Stan Flynn
  • C Andrew Robinson
  • RG Dane Donaldson
  • RT Roy McAfee

Meet The Defense

Our defense was rated 71 overall last year. It was an issue that haunted us at certain times, including a crucial loss to Buffalo where they let up 35 straight points. The good news is that our lowest-rated player this year is 71 overall. We’ve improved across the board by not losing many seniors and our players naturally getting better.

It feels like a group without a star but without any major liabilities either. I feel good about it, or better than last year at least.

Sack Master: DE Avery Jones

I didn’t really have Avery Jones on my radar at all last year as he was rated 69 to start the season (not nice). He was one of our lowest-rated recruits back in Year 2, despite being a 3-star DE. I just figured he’d be a rotational piece for us as we got better. He had other plans. Last season, he went off. He accounted for 7.5 sacks on the year and kept showing up in the game footage as a pest in the backfield.

I have no idea if last year was a fluke for him but I can’t wait to see if he can duplicate his performance in Year 5.

The All-American: SS Mike Jacobs

Mike Jacobs never redshirted for us and was one of the more highly-touted recruits in Year 2 for us. He was a 3-star recruit from New Jersey rated 71 overall at the time. By his sophomore year, he was already a preseason All-American in the MAC. He retains that title this year and is up to an 81-overall rating.

He’s been doing a little bit of everything for us over the past two seasons:

I want to see him take an even bigger leap forward this year though and take command of the defense.

Players Talked About In Previous Years

  • MLB Brian Wilson – A player that Coach Luke did not recruit but a solid coverage linebacker in the middle.
  • FS Shelton Bush – Another player not brought to Akron by Coach Luke. An all-around decent safety.

Unmentioned Defensive Players

Here’s an image gallery of the player ratings for the following players:

  • CB Eric West
  • CB Kenny McKinney
  • MLB Garrett Todd
  • LOLB Jason Smith
  • ROLB Ryan Martin
  • RE Kevin Jean
  • DT Alex Norman

Meet the Special Teams

We met K Brett Jones and P Collin Seward last year. They are sophomores now and rated 83 and 84 respectively. Jones went 17-23 with his FGs last year and Seward averaged 39.6 yards per punt with 13 of his 45 punts being downed inside the 20.

Overall Prediction for Year 5

It’s a strange year.

We lost our dynamic QB but we are so much better across the board. Our schedule will continue to get tougher as I plan to keep testing this team and hope it results in us getting nationally ranked and into a good bowl game.

I feel like we have a chance to sweep in-conference play and maybe go 2-2 out-of-conference against tough teams. A lot rests on the arm and legs of our QB though, and it may not be as smooth as the K-Dubs era so I’ll temper my expectations.

I’m going to say we go 8-4 in the regular season, but we definitely win the MAC this year. We can rename it to the MAKRON again. I feel like Year 6 or Year 7 will be when we truly start our national championship chase. This year is a building block for that.

Final Notes

  • As always, the subreddit /r/rubbercitydynasty exists.
  • The series is now shifting in format with the next post being a recap of the regular season games. There will be a separate post afterward to focus on a recap of our yearly recruiting. The regular season recap is tentatively scheduled to drop on Thursday, August 15. There’s a chance I’ll get it out on Wednesday though.
  • As I’ve said in the past, the goal is to eventually stream a few games on Twitch. Not sure which season we’ll start doing this, but you can still follow me on Twitch now.

We’ll keep this train rolling. I can feel us getting closer and closer to the Zips becoming nationally relevant.

Be sure to invite others to join this series. You can invite your nephew, the dungeon master from your weekly D&D night, or whoever you’d like. All you have to do is punch the button below.

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See you in the middle of the week with a recap of Cortez and the boys trying to take back the MAC!

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