Thursday, September 4, 2014

Foe Pause: Akron Edition

So here we are (PENN STATE!), ready to face Akron this Saturday in a noon showdown at Paterno Field inside Beaver Stadium.

What do you know about the Zips?

I don't know about you, but when I hear "Roo" this is what comes to my mind . . .

From Wikipedia, we learn about the history of the Zips:
The Zips name is unique in college athletics and comes from "zippers", rubber overshoes made by the BF Goodrich Company that were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925, a campus-wide contest had been conducted to choose a nickname for the university's athletic teams. Suggestions submitted by students, faculty, and alumni included Golden Blue Devils, Tip Toppers, Rubbernecks, Hillbillies, Kangaroos, and Cheveliers. The winner, freshman Margaret Hamlin, received a prize of $10 for "Zippers". Athletic director Kenneth Cochrane officially shortened the nickname to Zips in 1950. The university's mascot is "Zippy", a kangaroo. Zippy is one of only a few female college mascots in the United States.
Female?  I did not know that.  I'm not about to check and verify that fact either.

Of course, until this week, I did not know that Terry Bowden was the head coach of the Akron Zippers.
Fear the Terry-tubbie!

Okay, seriously, we have a game against Akron that some have called a "trap game."  You know the deal.  Team Goliath comes off a big emotional win.  Goliath is favored to beat David by a large margin.  Doesn't take David seriously.  David takes advantage of the situation and down goes the giant.  KaPow!  Upset.

But what Goliath didn't have, was a coach like James Franklin.  Driven.  Ambitious.  Energetic.  Let's go to the tape on this:

 This is HIS home opener.  Sure, the team snaps the ball, kicks the ball, throws the ball, catches the ball, tackles and blocks.  The team wins the game.  But this 2014 Nittany Lion football team is HIS team.  The beauty of this . . . he doesn't think of it that way.

If you ever asked Paterno about his 409 wins, he wouldn't talk about his wins.  He was always uncomfortable with that conversation.  He would talk about Penn State's wins.  He didn't win any games.  Mike Reid won games.  Chuck Fusina won games.  Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter won games.  His teams won games.  That's the kind of coach you want leading your team--one who knows deep down that his wins and the team's wins are one and the same, but he only sees the team.

Last Saturday, the team just won the game, and Franklin's looking for Ficken!  He's got a million things to do, but he stops to engage the loyal fans that came to watch in a WE ARE PENN STATE cheer.  The only time coaches like that look in the mirror is when the team fails--because they failed.

There will be mistakes.  Maybe another INT.  Maybe some more fumbles. Clock mismanagement.  Maybe a blown coverage. Akron did pass for over 400 yards against Howard.  Howard who?  Stern?  Hughes?  The Duck?  I'm not really sure, but some sportswriters think that means they are going to score a lot of points against Penn State this week.   We shall see.

Akron did put up 41 points.  Their QB Pohl threw three touchdown passes in his first five throws.  They didn't score again until the third quarter.  All but seven points were scored in the first quarter of each half.  Looks like one of the keys to this game is not to let them zip out to a fast start.  Better yet, I hope Penn State scores early (and often).

I'm reluctant to say this will be a rout, because we just don't know that much about these two teams after one week of play.  But I do think we cover the spread in a win.


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