Welcome to another roster preview to supplement the series about Akron’s quest for eternal glory in NCAA Football 14. For any new readers, feel free to check out the About page of the site to read what this whole project is about and read past installments. 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.
There’s been an awakening… Have you felt it?
Yes, it’s the Zips. If Year 5 was any indication, our Akron Zips are awake and on the verge of taking the college football world by storm.
We witnessed the Zips achieve a Top 25 ranking for the first time, in addition to them winning their second MAC championship and their second bowl victory under Coach Luke. The Zips have now shown the world that they’re no longer a mish-mashed mix of random players—they’re a real team!
With Year 5 now behind us, we’re looking ahead to a crucial Year 6 and wondering what will come. The schedule will be filled with tougher competitors. Are we ready? I mean, do the Zips really have the parts that can rise to the challenge and play against the likes of Ohio State?
Let’s take a deeper look at this year’s roster to find out.✓
Meet the Offense
I didn’t talk enough about how great the offense was last year under Cortez Haumiller. If you take out our dud game against Arizona, the Zips averaged 39.2 points per game over the other thirteen games. They were rated 88 on offense last year and I feel like this year’s offense is even better.
Almost everyone is returning or improved over last year. As good as Cortez Haumiller was for us (#ThanksCortez), there’s reason to believe that Darius Patterson offers even more upside. This offense may be tough to stop.
King For A Year: QB Darius Patterson
I did an in-depth look at Darius versus Cortez in last year’s preview. Ultimately, despite being a more athletic and explosive player, Darius didn’t get the starting job and that likely was because his Awareness rating was 82 compared to Cortez’s 95. This skill seems to be an x-factor in this game and players with low Awareness just don’t play to their full potential.
Despite being a higher-rated runner and thrower, Darius was sloppier than Cortez every time we watched him last year. Is his performance from last year a bad sign for Year 6?
Actually, no. It’s barely an inconvenience.
Darius has a 92 Awareness this year and he finally looks primed to play up to his sky-high ability. He’s had a long road to get to this starting job and I’m excited to finally let him loose. It feels like we’ll get the good qualities of K-Dubs but with a real roster around him.
We just need to pretend like we’re in Men In Black and erase last year’s bad Darius from our memory.
Okay, good. Now we only have good thoughts about Darius again. Let’s look back at what I wrote about him in Year 4:
Darius is from the Tampa suburb of Brandon, Florida and that’s where Coach Luke first met him. As Darius was finishing up junior college, the Zips were not on his mind at all so Coach Luke’s visit wasn’t expected to do much. Upon watching a Tampa Bay Bucs game together, Darius was impressed by the football insight that Luke had. He also loved Coach Luke’s suit.
Throughout the year, Darius started to see highlights of K-Dubs showing up on ESPN and he envisioned himself being the next step in the Akron ascension.
His time to shine is finally here. I showed highlights of his running ability in last year’s preview and—gosh—I just can’t understate how good he looks with the ball in his hands. Here’s a look at a highlight from this year’s spring practice:
Where he struggled last year was in the passing game. All we did was see him throw interceptions and completely miss his targets on every throw. Thankfully, he seems to have toned that down this year as we can see on a strong throw such as this:
I loved what K-Dubs did for us as he carried a less-talented team around him. And then, I loved what Cortez was able to do by playing mistake-free football that allowed us to take another step forward. Now, we get Darius. He’ll have just one year as a starter but it feels like this is going to be special.
I have a good sense of smell and, gosh, I think I smell our first Heisman candidate.
Next In Line: QB “Fountain Drew” Andrew Fountain
I do hope that we have some blowouts in the games we watch this year because then I can make sure Andrew Fountain comes in during garbage time to get some experience. This kid is our future.
He’s just a freshman yet he’s rated 92 overall with a 99 Throwing Accuracy rating. Everything about him looks amazing—well, except for a putrid 68 Awareness rating. That particular skill just plays such a big part in this game. For an example of what low Awareness can do to you, here’s a throw by Fountain Drew in spring practice that just completely misses an open target:
For a guy with 99 Throwing Accuracy, it seems weird for him to throw so… inaccurately. But, that’s the Awareness skill for ya!
Fountain Drew is a very gifted runner as well but, alas, Awareness seems to maybe hurt him there too:
That’s the same running play as Patterson above but he just couldn’t find the open space. He’s got a lot to learn this year on the sidelines, but there’s every reason to believe he’ll take over as a long-term QB next season. We should get two or three really fun years out of him. He might even be our first National Championship winning QB one day.
The Pest: HB Jared Oliver
Coach Luke recruited local boy Jared Oliver back in Year 2 by driving thirty minutes down the road to Youngstown and convincing Oliver that Akron offered more promise than the Youngstown State Penguins. It wasn’t supposed to be a big signing at the time since Oliver was only a 3-star prospect rated 69 overall.
Since then, Oliver has always had players above him on the depth chart and new halfback prospects coming in rated higher than him. He didn’t care. He just kept working.
In Year 5, he wasn’t on our radar at all as the third-string RB. He was forced to come in after our top two backs got hurt and, oh, all he did was average 7.1 yards per carry as he rushed for 1,142 yards and 7 TDs. Yes, that’s over seven freakin’ yards per carry. The dude couldn’t be denied.
You look at Oliver on paper and you’ll see that he’s slower than our other RBs and less dynamic in almost every way. The reason he’s seemingly so good is that he does it all though. He has excellent ball carrier vision. He’s elusive when needed. He’ll truck guys when needed.
His numbers were insane last year but I never got to watch any of the games that he played in. I’m really interested to see whether he can continue that type of dominance and be our lead back for the next two seasons.
Players Talked About In Previous Years
Here are players I mentioned in the past previews:
- WR Rodney Van – The turncoat who left Bowling Green for a chance to do something special in Akron. For some reason, I thought he was a senior at one point last year but nope! He’s still here and better than ever.
- WR Lorenzo Jackson – A high-character kid from Rhode Island that Coach Luke made a special trip to see. He’s the last guy left from Coach Luke’s first recruiting year.
Meet The Defense
Defense has not been the calling card of the Coach Luke Akron Zips. Over the past two seasons, they let up over 25 points per game on average. Last year, the team had one of the lowest sack totals in the league. The hope is that this year’s defense will finally not be a liability.
First off, I’m really excited about our secondary. There are studs everywhere. If there’s any concern, it’s that our front seven leaves us wanting a bit more.
Air Traffic Control: Anthony Morris and Eric West
Anthony Morris and Akron were an unlikely marriage. Akron wasn’t trying to recruit the #2 CB two years ago, nor did Morris have them on his radar. As the season went on, Morris wasn’t getting the offers he had hoped though. Coach Luke knew this and flew down to North Carolina to talk to the kid about the Akron program and what was being built. Morris was impressed by Coach Luke’s suit and bought into the vision. He signed on board a few weeks later and spent the last season redshirting.
He will make his debut this year as an 85-rated freshman CB and has the speed to keep up with any team’s receiving corps. He has all of the makings of a future shut-down corner and it’ll be interesting to see the impact he has on our defense.
Eric West has been starting since his freshman year and growing into more and more of an elite cornerback. He has a 99 awareness skill and should pair nicely with Morris to create one of the best secondaries in the country.
I’m really excited about having these two CBs on either side this year. It’ll be tough to pass on the Zips.
The True Freshman: DE John Clark
It’s rare for a true freshman to start at Akron. We’ve taken advantage of redshirt years during Coach Luke’s tenure. John Clark is just different. Our defensive line needs a spark and he is rated 77 overall as a true freshman so there’s no use waiting around to see what he can do. He’s a guy that will continue to grow as he plays more and I hope that he can make an immediate impact for us.
Players Talked About In Previous Years
- SS Mike Jacobs – He’s a perennial All-American player and a leader on the defense as he enters his final year for us. He had five interceptions last year and likely will be our defensive star again in Year 6.
- DE Avery Jones – He was a disappointment last year. He had 7.5 sacks in Year 4 but then took a major step back and had 2.0 sacks in Year 5. He didn’t even respond to my press conference speech for him. I’ve got to see something out of him this year.
Meet the Special Teams
We met K Brett Jones and P Collin Seward when they were freshmen. Time flies and they’re now juniors and we’ll be recruiting their replacements soon. Brett Jones is a Texas kid, rated 87 overall, and went 19-21 kicking FGs last year. Collin Seward is rated 89 and has averaged 39 yards per punt with 24 of his 92 punts being downed inside the 20 over the last two years.
Overall Prediction for Year 6
I’ve always predicted that our win totals would be lower than they ended up being. I think I like to temper expectations or maybe I don’t like to get overly excited and possibly be let down.
Well, those days are over! Because this team is legit.
I feel something special in the works. I’m going to test the Year 6 Zips. I’m going to throw ranked teams on that out-of-conference schedule (thinking about maybe going all Big Ten teams) and I think they can handle it.
I think they sweep the MAC again.
I think they win a big bowl game.
I think they end the year ranked in the Top 10.
I can’t really predict a win total as I haven’t made the schedule yet, but there’s no reason this team can’t be at least 12-2 again with wins against major teams. I’m hyped. Let’s f’n go!
- The subreddit of /r/rubbercitydynasty is a fun place. I’ll likely be posting some the schedule there before the season starts.
- I’m going to do Year 6 in a similar format to last season. The Year 6 Season post should come very soon. Stay tuned.
- There’s at least a decent chance, if the bowl game is a good one, that I’ll do a little stream party to watch it together on Twitch. That’ll be announced in the next post if it is happening.
- Any last-second requests for the out-of-conference schedule before I finalize it? Drop those in the comments.
- Nickname ideas for Darius Patterson on his Heisman chance this year? We’ve had The Doctor suggested in the comments before.
I’ve predicted national championships for Akron and it feels like it is almost that time. Heck, if the chips fall the right way, this year could even be the year.
Needless to say, it’s getting crazy in Akron! This is the perfect time to invite your former jazzercize instructor to follow along in this series by tapping the button below.
Catch you in a few days, Zippers! I hope you believe in magic.