Akron Rams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Classiifcation: 1A, region 4

2004 record: 1-8

Outlook: One of the area’s most challenging rebuilding projects has begun.

Vernon Perry, a former NFL defensive back and coach at Prairie View A&M University, has replaced former Ram head coach Keith White and is ready to make changes after a 1-8 campaign in 2004.

Part of those changes is a new staff, which includes new line coach Jason Gossett, a former Alabama State graduate assistant. Gossett says he wouldn’t speculate on the Rams’ record in 2005, but says that he believes the coaching changes will almost certainly result in a more competitive Akron program.

“We feel like we’re going to improve,” Gossett says. “I don’t know how much of that will translate into wins this season, but we’re going to have a better product on the field.”

The biggest problem, Gossett says, is that many of the Akron players are behind on the basics necessary for the coaching staff to build their skills upon.

“They haven’t been taught the fundamentals,” Gossett says. “We’re trying to develop the offensive line, and first we have to teach them how to step, how to get off the ball.”

Despite the struggles with the Rams’ fundamentals, the cupboard is far from bare in Akron. Gossett says the offensive backfield, led by strong-armed quarterback Cleo Elliott, has the potential to be explosive if the Rams’ line play gives them the opportunity.

“We really have some speed back there,” Gossett says.

Another area of strength is the deep linebacking corps. Perry and his staff have elected to install an eight-man 4-4 base front to take advantage of the quickness and athleticism of their ‘backers.

The goal, Gossett says, is “to bring pressure from all sides of the field” and disrupt the opposing offense’s rhythm.

The 2005 season will be just the beginning for this year’s Rams; with no seniors on the roster, the team will return nearly completely intact next season.

“This season, we’re really building for the future,” Gossett says. “In two years, we should have a dynamite team here.”