Preview: Akron 2013

Submitted by Brian on September 13th, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Other stuff here: Ace FFFF!


WHAT Michigan vs Akron
WHERE Michigan Stadium,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN Noon Eastern
September 14th, 2013
WEATHER sunny, upper 60s
0% chance of rain

I'm trying real hard, Mr. Roo.

Run Offense vs Akron

The Zips were 109th in rushing defense a year ago, ceding nearly five yards a carry even without removing sacks. It's possible they've improved in that department after holding UCF to four yards a carry and James Madison to 3.7, but doubtful that Michigan will notice such a difference.

I mean:

That's Akron playing defense against Central Florida.

For Michigan, it's about identifying guys correctly and blowing them up. They've had opportunities to break long ones submarined by one missed assignment here, one missed assignment there. That's understandable with a young line and (still) young tight ends. Michigan wants to develop those guys over the course of the season; now would be a good time to put the spurs to an opponent.

Key Matchup: The offensive line vs generating false hopes because they smash low level competition.

[Hit THE JUMP for more condescending key matchups.]

Pass Offense vs Akron

James Madison sophomore Michael Birdsong was 29/42 for 310 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT against Akron. UCF junior Blake Bortles was 18/24 for 314 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INT against Akron. Last year, Akron was 104th in pass efficiency defense.

Devin Gardner.


Key Matchup: Akron defensive backs vs the fountain of blood spurting from their eyes midway through the first quarter.

Run Defense vs Akron


Akron rushed for just over four yards a carry against UCF thanks to a big gain from 5'8" freshman DJ Jones against UCF's backups. As Ace detailed in FFFF, before the fourth quarter Akron had two drives longer than 11 yards, one of which ended in a punt, the other an interception, so… yeah.

Last week they won a 35-33 thriller against I-AA power James Madison on which 55 of  their 83 rushing yards (sacks excised) came on one carry from Jawon Chisholm, a returning starter who averaged almost 90 yards a game last year. He'll probably get the bulk of the carries, but since the "bulk" against James Madison was 11 carries, that's not saying much.

Michigan had some scheme-related struggles against Notre Dame; their defensive tackles had a hard time holding up to Notre Dame doubles. That shouldn't repeat against last year's #105 rushing offense.

Key Matchup: Michigan players versus boredom.

Pass Defense vs Akron

dalton williams[1]

This pass is going eight yards maximum.

This will be the usual MAC passing spread heavy on wide receiver screens, hitch routes, and petrified attempts to keep the quarterback upright. Akron lost its starting quarterback from a year ago but still return two guys who had over 50 attempts. Their statistical profiles are pure dinkball:

  • Kyle Pohl, sophomore: completing nearly 70% of his passes for 5.5 YPA.
  • Nick Hirschman, junior: completing nearly 60% of his passes for 6.6 YPA.

Hirschmann had ten attempts last week, Pohl, 22. That might have been more even, but Hirschman hit a bomb over the top against James Madison… and subsequently hurt his knee celebrating. (BIG TENNN!) He's probable this weekend, but if there's any chance he could aggravate that injury, Akron will hold him out of what projects to be a bloodbath.

Akron's spread out its receptions extensively. Nine different players caught passes in both of their games. There's no returning go-to guy. Their pass protection was mediocre a year ago despite all the quick throws, ceding an average of 2 sacks per game and gave up three to JMU.

This will be an exercise in tackling for the Michigan defensive backs, as Akron doesn't project to have the skill players, protection, or quarterback to attack them deep. Expect a blizzard of five yard throws on which YAC is the difference between first downs and punts, with the latter more prevalent.

Key Matchup: Taylor, Hollowell, and Countess versus missed tackles.

Special Teams

This will be of no consequence. If Michigan punts, hopefully they do not shank it and actually cover it. Maybe Dennis Norfleet breaks one, if he catches the damn ball.




nobody puts kitten in a tire well except everybody

Cheap Thrills

Worry if...

  • Akron does anything.
  • Anything at all.
  • Notre Dame struggles against Purdue.

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • Jehu Chesson is activated in the passing game or moved to tight end.
  • Brian Cleary lays waste.
  • They don't play In The Big House for the third straight game.

Fear/Paranoia Level: 0 (Baseline 5; –1 MACrifice, –1 for MACrifice That was 1-11 Last Year, –1 for MACrifice That Lost to UCF 42-7, –1 for Six Score Spread, +1 for OH GOD I REMEMBER IT ALL, –1 for Yeah But This Is Akron, Man, Akron, –1 for Seriously I Am Done Pretending I Remember It All)

Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for Never Forget, +1 for I Just Got Used To Not Worrying About This, +1 for Also I Just Got Used To Being A Near Top-Ten Outfit, +1 for I Like Thinking Positive Things About The Direction Of The Program…, +1 for …And Not Eating Pulverized Glass)

Loss will cause me to... grind every piece of glass in my house into powder and eat it.

Win will cause me to... change in no way whatsoever.

The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:

Victory by lots.

Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • Jehu Chesson gets four catches.
  • Akron crosses midfield once.
  • Mike Shaw bursts out of the tunnel midway through the third quarter, gets five carries, bounces each of them to the sideline, scores five touchdowns.
  • Michigan, 62-0



September 13th, 2013 at 12:05 PM ^

I know Brady Hoke wouldn't do this, but I'd love to see Michigan attempt to break it's single game scoring record. I'm not sure what that record is but it gives me something to cheer about in the 3rd and 4th quarters


September 13th, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

I see sports as a means of excelling as a team and as individuals. I don't see how you are delivering a consistent message of "play 60 minutes" but lets take off the second half if we are up by many.

Also, if you are putting in your second string then why not run them like its your first string? Do you always expect your first string to remain healthy? This issue for me is, you burn all the redshirts but limit their ability and plays but will expect them to deliver if a player gets hurt. Seems logical that if you give them the opportunity to deliver against Akron then it will help them to deliver when they are inserted into the starting lineup.

Last, the reason why I recommend this type of relentlessness and pursuit of excellence is the real world does not give most people breaks. Few exceptions to this and all of us have to earn our security in life. No one is going to pass up a job opportunity for you just because they make too much and you not enough. You won't ask for less if you know the guy next to you makes less.

This all plays into a broken idea of sportsmenship and the mercy rule. I see sportsmenship as respect on the field, playing not to injure, and refusing to trash talk in rubbing in victories. I have never believed sportsmanship was giving up during a portion of the game in order to save face for your opponents. If I am getting beat in competition and my opponent goes easier on me, I see it as an insult. I want those people to play their best at all times as I would do the same.

It would be nice to see some scores return that existed during the Yost era but I doubt they ever will.


September 13th, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

So the world is crappy so sports should be crappy too? I don't really get this idea. Is it so bad to have something where human decency wins out over whatever you're talking about? What's the difference between 53 points and 70? Not saying the second stringers aren't trying to score but I don't see any benefit by running the whole playbook at that point.

Monocle Smile

September 13th, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

Yes, we know cutthroat capitalism involves shitting on your friends and other humans in general just to get a step ahead. Believe it or not, there are parts of the world where this mentality is frowned upon.

Putting in the backups when you're up a ton is a chance to get them game reps without risking a loss. The backups want to play in games, too. Furthermore, "respect on the field" involves knowing when you've kicked someone's ass and not twisting the knife.

I'm guessing you'd go for two after every touchdown. There's this line between "going hard" and "being a dick" that you seem to want crossed.

Finally, if you're going to pontificate about this garbled form of "sportsmanship," try to spell it correctly.


September 13th, 2013 at 2:06 PM ^

Who said the world was crappy or that you need "shit on your friends?" I just pointed out the fact that those who get promotions won't let the promotion go because it wouldn't be "fair." I don't expect those individuals to give up on something that would help their dreams.

It may be beyond our ability to grasp as we are only fans of this football team but players on the team dream to make the nfl. It is up to the coaches to help mold these men in the best manner possible to achieve their dreams. You are doing a disservice to players if you send them out their and run fullback dives.

Part of the reason we CELEBRATE Yost and what is built into our fabric is the fact that Yost built his powerhouses to excel. 130-0 happened because Yost wanted a spectacle on the field. We embrace his achievements and those teams as apart of Michigan lore. Eventually the University of Chicago's of this world caught up to him. Could you imagine Michigan with no Yost? Could those athletes at that point truly embrace the title, "leaders and best?"

On the flip side, I am glad Woody Hayes went for two points in a game against us in 1968. It knocked Michigan out of complacency and back to achievement in the modern football era. No one should embrace laziness or complacency. And no one should hold back excellence when they have it within their ability.

Guess you think Yost was a "dick."


September 13th, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

That one of the first men in history to provide an integrated college football team was a racist? Don't confuse and implicate Yost because of other people's racism that forced him to make difficult decisions.

Learn the true definition of racism and the history of Yost.

Disclaimer: I do not buy for one second John U. Bacon's description of Yost. In fact, a man who writes hearsay should not be considered a historian.

That article is the "only" evidence put forth claiming Yost was a racist. The evidence of Michigan adoption of intergration when Yost was around flies in the face of Bacon's claims.


September 14th, 2013 at 4:39 AM ^

If you don't consider Bacon a credible source regarding Yost's racism, here is a link to a 200-page master's thesis with ample citations regarding the Willis Ward affair.  I believe other writers have covered Yost's anti-catholic prejudice in considerable detail as well.  At the same time, Yost did have black players and, in fact, was one of the only coaches to have Jewish players.  These issues are seldom so simplistic as you appear to believe, and the man ought rightly to be criticized for what he did wrong and rightly praised for what he did right.  

Indeed, just because Yost was a great football coach at Michigan does not exempt him from crticism--if anything, it should heighten the standards by which we judge his legacy.  If Gerald Ford didn't acquiesce to "other peoples' racism," how can we excuse Yost for having done so?  We can't.  And it won't do to pretend that Bacon just made the whole thing up.


September 14th, 2013 at 11:39 AM ^

Did Tyran Steward get a doctorate for this? If so my opinion of higher education and those who evaluate work just lowered. The first statement regarding Yost implicated him because he was a southerner. No actual factual data demonstrating a systematic holding down of athletes at UM or racist remarks just a southerner. I guess that means we conclude stereotyping of groups as 100% accurate without exception. Since this is a thesis submitted to Eastern Michigan and not Michigan which implicates a man LONG DEAD of racism, we will give him a pass.

The rest of his information is hearsay. Do you want me to spout hearsay on these forums to make you look horrible? There is a reason hearsay is not permitted in courts to implicate an individual. Anyone can makeup a story regarding anybody to damn the individual.

Two facts in the entire 200 pages make Yost look horrible. One is a black man never started for Michigan during his era. Yet, Yost according to the thesis allowed them onto the team but made life difficult for them with racist remarks. No, citing of the actual remarks and no source of anyone who can back that claim. Why this document wasn't thrown out amazes me.

The final issue is benching  WIllis Ward, a starter, against Georgia Tech. First, I agree wholeheartedly this was Yost's worst mistake. He should have packed up and cancelled the game as means of standing on principle. Why he didn't and why he compromised is his decision and apart of Michigan history. Michigan still played the game so you can implicate those players and even Gerald Ford if you would like because he played too. However, one glaring fact remains Ward was on that team despite the most heralded cost in history who served in administration supposedly being a racist.

I am sure someone took Bacon to task for his writing because here is his much softer in tone followup:

If EMU constantly accepts shooty work like this thesis just because it is hot button issue of the day then shame on them.


September 16th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

Coach instead of cost

Shotty instead of shooty

Personally, I don't care if Yost's father was Robert E. Lee. The civil war divided many families. Not everyone born in the south supported the civil war and not everyone born in the north is innocent of racism. Not one comment or piece of evidence is sourced that damns Yost but the entire document is taken as a means of framing him.

You can call me a homer but if you fail to come up with one example of a racist statement or policy then you won't be taken seriously. Your best case for Yost being a racist is that GEORGIA TECH wanted Ward to sit.

Now that the game has been played and it is clear that our team didn't practice hard or prepare well for this game as far as I am concerned you can shut your face. I was 100% right on the team and the coaches excelling at all times.


September 13th, 2013 at 5:04 PM ^

I just pointed out the fact that those who get promotions won't let the promotion go because it wouldn't be "fair."

You talk about the real world and stuff but I don't think you have a very good grasp on it if you think leaving your first string in and running up the score is at all relatable to letting someone else have a promotion because they make less money than you.

Plainly put, if we beat Akron 84-0, that is not better than 56-0.   Here's how the real world actually works: Once you've proven you can do something and do it well, continuing to really hammer the shit out of doing it well doesn't earn you anything.  Good job, you wrote your weekly TPS report and you even put a cover on it.  No, you will not get a promotion for setting a speed record doing so or putting a really fucking awesome cover on it.

You seem to think that beating the stuffing out of shitty teams is "excelling."  It's not.  Beat Akron, give the guys at the back of the depth chart a reward for the work they put in, and move on to bigger and better things.  Bo didn't become a legendary coach by dropping 50-odd points on Northwestern.


September 13th, 2013 at 7:36 PM ^

mention using 2nd stringers.  His point is that if you use your second team, use them as you would the first team and play to win, not to run out the clock.

Would you rather see Shane Morris perform meaningless kneel downs for the entire 4th quarter, or would you rather see what he and the rest of the 2nd team can do to score points of their own accord?  If they come in with the score 56-0, would you rather they play not to score more points, or put up as many as they can?  Let's face it, it is encumbant upon the other team to prevent Michigan from scoring, not the Michigan coaching staff and players.


September 14th, 2013 at 12:29 AM ^

It's a primary point. First, you either didn't read my comments or purposely chose to ignore the introduction of the second string. Second, it's a waste of the fans time and the players time to put them in the game and call plays that are expected to fail.

Finally, unless you live in your parents basement (a possibility with 12,000 mgopoints) then you will quickly understand that what I said wasn't crap. Any job you obtain and advancement comes through excelling. If you have a problem with a team who actually plays hard for sixty minutes then maybe football is not the sport you should be a fan of.

Bo won the lion's share of the Big 10 championships. Given your stupid logic because he won consistently won in the 70s, he should have had his teams lay down in the 80s. Bo would have slapped you sideways for such stupidity and you would have deserved it.

One could also argue that Bo's willingness to hold back hurt the team in 84 when Harbaugh went down to injury. Bo probably wouldn't have cared because he had so many other championship seasons to reinforce his coaching methods.

Ali G Bomaye

September 13th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

Yost may have been a relentless capitalist who had contempt for his opponents and sportsmanship yadda yadda eh.

But the lopsides scores of that era have far more to do with how football was run back then.  Now even Buffalo, Akron, and the like have programs more or less run like Michigan's, just on a smaller scale: they have a full professional coaching staff, offseason weight-lifting and practices, playbooks and film review, and so forth.  But back then, programs varied widely.  Yost was a full-time professional coach, a renowned innovator, and a national recruiter (for instance, he personally recruited Willie Heston from Oregon).  In contrast, some of our opponents ran their teams more or less like student-run club teams, just taking the best guys who showed up to practice and putting them on the field.  For instance, Beloit, who was one of our regular opponents back in the aughts, regularly played competitive games against local high schools and YMCA teams, so it's not surprising that we crushed them by scores like 89-0 or 79-0.

In that context, it'seasy to see why these scores were incredibly lopsided, and it had little to do with concepts of sportsmanship.


September 13th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

You are missing the point entirely! "Hurry up" Yost never let up on those schools. He didn't stop the fast paced play just because he was up by 70. I can guarantee you that if we are up 63-0 at the half that no more points would be put up on the board. What a waste of a half of good football. What a waste of time for the fans. What a waste of time for the athletes.

Ali G Bomaye

September 13th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

If Michigan played a loosely-organized club football team now, we could put in Alex Swieca at QB and run nothing but dive plays with [insert walk-on RB] in the second half, and we'd still probably score 4-5 TDs in that half.  There's no evidence that we scored so many points because Yost "never let up" rather than because we actually had a trained and organized football team and some of our opponents didn't.


September 13th, 2013 at 8:35 PM ^

Given her support for things such as legalization of all drugs and prostitution.  Plus, she did have a thing for young men.  By "thing" I obviously mean "obsession."

But generally, coaches of team sports don't preach the virtue of selfishness.  It typically doesn't go over well with teammates.  Not only is it not good for team chemistry, it's not good strategy.

On the other hand, being a poor writer probably does make her a bit like most coaches who write books... (looking at you, Barry Switzer)