Akron Last Year 5-7
4-4 MAC East (3rd)
Head Coach: Terry Bowden
2014 MAC Media Preseason (2nd MAC East)
Akron's late-season surge in 2013 included regaining possession of the Wagon Wheel trophy with a victory over arch-rival Kent State. Earlier in the campaign, UA had a chance to upset nationally ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor, possessing the ball at the one-yard line before a botched play ended the upset bid. Akron was also close at home against Louisiana and gave undefeated Northern Illinois all it could handle in DeKalb.
The Zips reversal of fortunes and close calls have spread optimism throughout the campus and community. The MAC media was also impressed enough to list the Zips as No. 2 in East in a preseason poll. Can UA live up to higher expectation?
Akron averaged 29.2 points and 342 yards per game in 2013. Junior QB Kyle Pohl will again be the controls of the offense, headed by OC A.J. McIlwee.
As the 2013 season progressed, Pohl got better in the spread offense. He finishing the campaign completing 56 percent of his passes for 2,103 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. When UA won four of its last five games, one of the victories was a comeback win engineered by Pohl at Massachusetts
> The Running game again will be anchored by Jawon Chisholm. He started slowly last season but came on late to end the campaign with 869 yards on the ground and eight scores. The senior has flirted with the 1,000-yard rushing barrier all three seasons and could finally reach the mark this season. If healthy, Chisolm will be one of the top rushers in school history. In addition, he caught 27 passes.
When UA needs a runner in short yardage, it relies on junior Connor Hunley, who also is a good pass receiver and blocker.
> The receivers will be led by junior Zach D’Orazio. The converted quarterback led UA in receptions with 42 for 567 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.
One nice surprise last season was the integration of Frashon Bickley into the offense as he made 24 catches as a freshman. Look for senior L.T. Smith and sophomore Mykel Traylor-Bennett as integral parts of the passing game this season.
The offensive line only brings back two starters in senior C Travis Switzer and junior LT Dylan Brunmaugh. Senior Isiah Williams will be a key at LT, as well as junior Quiason Osborne at RT.
The defense under the tutledge of coordinator Chuck Amato was the strength of the team in 2013 and will again be the key to the Zips fortunes this season. Overall, they allowed 28.6 points and 396 yards per game.
The strength of the defense is a linebacking unit led by junior Jatavius Brown. He led the team in tackles with 107 (57 solo) with 6.5 tackles for losses, two sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Senior Justin March was just as good on the other side as he had 80 stops (40 solo) with a sack. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
Senior C,.J. Mizell, a transfer from Florida State, saw significant playing time a season ago and chipped in 41 with tackles (7.5 TFL)
> The front line has one returning starter in Cody Grice, who had 7.5 stops for losses a season ago. Look for Alphonso Horner to step in and start after being a third down specialist a season ago.
> The secondary has only one returning starter in senior S Johnnie Robinson, who had 37 tackles and two interceptions a season ago. However both CB’s -- junior Bryce Cheek and sophomore DeAndre Scott -- as well as senior safety Bre’ Ford, all saw action last season in certain defensive packages, as well as through injuries
The Zips bring back both kicking specialists in P Zach Paul and PK Robert Stein. Paul was one of the best punters not only in the MAC, but also in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision after averaging 42.9 yards per punt. The junior had 15 kicks of 50 yards or more, including a career high 65 yarder. He had 17 kicks downed inside the 20.
> Stein struggled with his field goals early in the season, but at the end of the campaign he hit six of his last seven going 9-of-16 as well as 29-of-30 on extra points. The junior also was the main man on kickoffs with 12 of his 44 kicks for touchbacks.
UA opens at home against Howard from the FCS before travelling to Happy Valley to battle Penn State. After a bye week, UA hosts Marshall before closing out non-conference play at Pittsburgh. The MAC portion opens with a home game against Eastern Michigan. Akron also has home games against Miami, Bowling Green, and Massachusetts. The Zips travel to Ohio, Ball State, Buffalo before wrapping up the regular season against the Golden Flashes.
For the first time in a number of years, expectations for Zips football are high. Terry Bowden has gone through the lean times. now he hopes he has a team to challenge in the Eastern Division
Akron should be better on both sides of the ball and could be a force in 2014 .