Year 9 Preview: Let's meet the 2021-22 Zips
Heavy lies the crown as Coach Luke and the Zips prepare for life as defending champions
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 about this whole project and catch up on the 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.
I want to start off by saying…
YOU’RE ABOUT TO SEE THE ROSTER OF THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS!
Man, it feels great to say those words.
Well, championship or not, the Akron Zips have a new feel this year. There are major reconstructions being done all around campus to have a bigger stadium and better amenities because we are an elite football school suddenly.
We also are a completely independent team without a conference.
Without the chains of the MAC to tie us down, I’m equally excited and nervous about all of this. It means that we’re—umm—it means that—uh, hold on, I’m finding it hard to concentrate because there’s a man screaming on my lawn. I’ll be right back…
It was LeBron James. Apparently, he had been trapped inside the NBA Bubble while we were winning a national championship and he had no idea how to reach me (I blocked his number), but he is extremely excited about Akron’s championship season. He said he wants to put me in touch with his suit guy so that I can now have championship style too (did I not already?), but I told him that reader Deuce already picks out all of my suits for me. He then told me that he is quitting the NBA in the 2021 season so that he can follow the Akron team around. I tried hard to convince him that this was a bad idea yet he just smiled and left. I dunno. I hope he wasn’t serious.
We’re a championship team. Andrew Fountain is miraculously back for his senior year and I can’t wait to see if that means that we’re about to become a back-to-back championship team.
Before we look at our roster, there was a great writeup on our subreddit by reader Chad where he analyzes the fallout from the constant Fountain Drew injuries. Beautiful stuff there. Check it out.
Now, let’s look at this defending champion roster!
Meet the Offense
In every year of the Rubber City Dynasty here, our offense has been our calling card. The offense has continued to get better and better and better… until now.
We lost a lot of key players and, after having a 99-rated offense for the past two years, we now have a 97-rated offense.
Having two receivers leave early really messed with our plans there as we didn’t have the pieces ready to replace them. Also, our offensive line has someone rated 77 overall. There’s some holes in this house.
It doesn’t show in that graphic but we just don’t have the depth that we’ve had in previous years. One injury to our offensive line could be catastrophic to the team. It’s a good offense but, for the first time in a while, there’s cause for concern.
The Stone Rose: HB Ian Brown
Missouri is not part of Coach Luke’s recruiting pipeline. He’s only recruited two players from that state. Ian Brown is one of those two. It was a bit of an accident actually. Coach Luke really loves the City Museum in St. Louis, MO. It’s this really trippy museum that feels like it was made by a gritty Willy Wonka. Coach was making his annual trip there and had heard about a four-star halfback playing nearby. Coach Luke saw that game and tiny Ian Brown dancing all around the field. It was clear Brown was a gem prospect that we needed to start recruiting. The rest is history.
Also, Coach Luke spent an entire day at the City Museum and had a blast.
Ian Brown isn’t a typical lead halfback and that’s mainly because he’s tiny but it’s also is a bit of a wildcard. He is amazing at certain things but dismal at other things. For instance, he is incredibly fast and elusive yet he can’t really hold onto the ball.
He fumbled seven times last year on only 102 carries. Coach Luke forced Ian Brown to carry around a football for the entire offseason so that he gets comfortable with not wanting to let a football go. We’ll see if this unique tactic pays off.
The King of Akron: WR Kelechi King
Nobody knew that Kelechi King would be our WR2 as a freshman here. We had Edward Daniels and Anthony Rawlins ahead of him and it seemed like Kelechi would get a couple years to learn under them before he got to shine. Those traitors left early for the NFL and now here we are.
Kelechi understands the burden that has been laid upon him. This is a team defending their championship and he is suddenly one of the most important players on their roster. Is he nervous? Well, of course. Can he handle the situation? Only time will tell.
My main concern with having him as one of our primary receivers is his catching ability. He can run like the wind but he rates low in every single thing related to catching the dang ball. If he truly will become the King of Akron, he needs to ensure that drops aren’t a problem this year.
Players Talked About In Previous Years
Here are players I mentioned in the past previews:
QB Andrew Fountain - Why did Andrew Fountain return to Akron? Did he just love our fanbase and his Fountain Drew nickname that much? It’s hard to say. He’s an amazing quarterback who has won us a Sugar Bowl and National Championship already. What is there left for him to do before he goes to the NFL? Apparently it’s winning a Heisman trophy. Let’s do that for him this year.
WR Chauncey White - K-Dubs was the pride of Mentor, OH but Chauncey is making a case for himself to be their new hero as the star WR of our championship team. He almost joined Edward Daniels and Anthony Rawlins to leave for the NFL before Coach Luke whispered in his ear about the tremendous power of the Akron degree. Chauncey is sticking around for that now and we’re excited to see him lead our receivers until he graduates with that precious degree.
Meet The Defense
Our defense was once our weakness and it is now our strength. For the first time ever, our defense is rated higher than our offense as they have a 99 rating. This shouldn’t really be a surprise after we saw how well they’ve played over the past couple of years.
Our 93-rated defense was amazing last year due to a great secondary allowing our front seven to do work. The front seven has now improved to catch up with the rest of the defense. It should be a special year.
ABC Dee: OLB Dee Sims
Coach Luke once didn’t have any connections in California at all so it was a surprise to the Akron administration when he told them that he wanted to start taking trips out there to recruit. In Year 6 of our dynasty, he recruited the heck out of California to try to build a pipeline there for us. The biggest fruit of those labors was getting LB Dee Sims.
We’re now in his Dee’s sophomore year for us and he is arguably the most important part of our linebacking crew. He had 82 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss as a freshman last year. It’s clear that he is a tackling machine but we also want to see him start to step up as a coverage linebacker to help make him an NFL-caliber player.
All Day: FS Mike Day
The secondary has been having a renaissance in recent years. The latest stud in our secondary has now arrived after Douglas Fox graduated. Mike Day is our new starting free safety as a junior that rates a stunning 91 overall.
He excels in zone coverage and has great tackling and pursuit skills. The hope is that his awareness skills will continue to shoot up as he plays more. Regardless, he’s sure to be an integral part of our defense this year.
Players Talked About In Previous Years
DE John Clark - He’s the sack master who never redshirted for us and is now entering his senior year. He has 16.5 career sacks but his best year was still his freshman year with 7.5 sacks.
CB Anthony Morris - Look, he’s the greatest cornerback I’ve ever seen. He’s had 14 career interceptions thus far. I want to see him continue to shine for us now that he’s committed to getting his Akron degree.
SS Jesse McIntyre - McIntyre is a friggin’ stud at the SS position. He had aspirations of becoming Brian Dawkins but it’s looking like Brian Dawkins may now have aspirations of becoming Jesse McIntyre.
DT Steven McDaniel - He’s now been relegated to backup DT in our 3-4 defense due to his lack of production but he still figures to be an important rotational piece for us if we are to have success this year.
Meet the Special Teams
This is the shakiest part of our team. We have sophomore kicker E.J. Johnson who rates 83 OVR with a 93 Kick Power but 75 Kick Accuracy rating. I saw him kick many times last year and his accuracy was always a problem, despite his strong leg.
Adam Henry is our punter and he rates better at 88 OVR with a 93 Kick Power and 84 Kick Accuracy. I’m partly considering trying out Henry as a kicker this year because of my concerns about Johnson’s reliability in the big games. This is something to keep an eye on.
Overall Prediction for Year 9
Look, we’re champs! It can’t get better than that. We are now beginning a quest to start winning multiple championships.
One difference over last year is that we have a much tougher overall schedule. We no longer have nine easy games against MAC teams on our schedule since we’re Independent. There are very few chances to relax on this schedule.
Another difference this year is that I am also officially switching our playbook over to the Ole Miss playbook for all games. I liked what I saw last year when we used it. Let’s make it official.
With those changes in mind, will the tougher schedule and new playbook be enough to throw everything off?
I don’t think so.
I think we have a tremendous team because Andrew Fountain is still here. When he is gone, we’ll likely take a step back but that time hasn’t come yet. I think we find a way to win these games on our schedule with Fountain Drew leading the way. I really think we can make it back to a national championship.
Twitch stream tonight!
I will now be consistently doing a regular season Twitch stream on Tuesday nights, followed by a bowl game stream on Friday nights. Come on out and watch me play through the season.
If you can’t make it or Twitch ain’t your thang then don’t worry because I’ll still be publishing the content as normal here. The season post will be up on Wednesday evening for you to check out.
Whether you’re a fan of the posts or the Twitch streams or the city of Akron in general, I love y’all. Share this series with your gardener and everyone else you know so that they can see Coach Luke overtake Nick Saban as football’s most accomplished coach.