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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer

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Zips? Champions? Even they may have to do it again to believe it

PAST FIVE SEASONS: 28-30 (24-17 MAC) - 2005: 7-6 (6-3 MAC; Champions) lost Motor City Bowl
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 16 (8 Offense, 8 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: The expectations for a conference champion returning a projected all-leaguer at quarterback, its entire offensive line and most of its defense will be far, far above any this program has dealt with in the decades since it moved out of the Ohio Valley Conference, where it wasn't all that great to begin with. Winning any fewer than eight games, a mark the school hasn't reached in its I-A life, might be viewed as a disappointment.
WHAT'S THE SAME: Aside from copping the St. Louis Rams' uniform look, there's quarterback Luke Getsy, one-time wonder-to-be at Pittsburgh, eased the transition to the post-Charlie Frye era by ripping ever-accomodating MAC defenses for 23 touchdowns (to 12 interceptions) and 3,400-plus yards, including three 400-yard games. Two of those came in the postseason, where Akron hadn't been despite a few winning seasons under Coach Lee Owen since it lost to Rhode Island in the first round of the 1985 Division I-AA playoffs - itself only the second postseason appearance in the program's 116-year history.

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Jeremy Carter called - he wants his shirt back...

Plus: all five offensive linemen are back up front.
SUBTRACTION BY SUBTRACTION: Gone, however, are all the guys who handled the ball besides Getsy - that's all-MAC receiver Dominik Hixon, his colleague Jason Montgomery and 1,200-yard rusher Brett Biggs. Into their place come a bunch of guys with not many career touches; Montreal native Jabari Arthur, who moved to receiver when Getsy beat him out for the QB job, and tight end Kris Kasparek are the only guys back with some experience with the ball in their hands.
OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: Worried about replacing Biggs, leading rusher and second-leading pass-catcher? Hell no - woe upon the wretched who try to impede the path of Dennis Kennedy to the end zone:

Throughout the scrimmage and all the drills, Kennedy seemed to shine. He consistently was making people miss and the ones that were able to get a hand on him, he was able to shed the tackle a good majority of the time.

"Dennis (Kennedy) has really stepped it up," Brookhart said. "He knows the opportunity he has and he is really taking advantage of it. We have been really pleased with him and his efforts this spring."

So, that takes care of that then...
REASON FOR HOPE: Three straight winning seasons defuses the fluke stuff; the Zips are a full-fledged MAC contender with a championship to show for it and one of the league's best players leading its defense.
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: The championship was kind of flukey - six other league teams matched the Zips' 5-3 MAC record and four others their seven overall wins; that tie-breaker crapshoot is unlikely to fall the same way again. How good will Getsy be with totally new talent around him?
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... Gerald Ford: pretty much stumbled into the top spot by not screwing up as badly as everyone around them, by accident, and probably not for very long.
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING... Returning talent probably = 7 wins again, but seeing as the Zips weren't exactly lighting the league on fire all of a sudden, not another championship, and not a second bowl game...at least, not one in America.

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Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall...April 13: Florida State...April 15: San Diego State...April 17: Alabama...April 19: Oregon State...April 20: Buffalo...April 22: NC State...April 23: Arizona...April 24: Memphis...April 26: Louisiana Tech...April 28: Iowa...April 30: Toledo...May 2: Ohio State...May 3: Mississippi State...May 5: Southern Miss...UL-Lafayette

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11:55 AM

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