ZIPS 2014 RECORD: 5-7 overall, 3-5 MAC (4th MAC East)
2015 PRESEASON POLL: Tied for second in the Eastern Division with Ohio
HEAD COACH: Terry Bowden – fourth season (11-25 at UA 151-87-2 overall)
► In his fourth season, can Terry Bowden take UA to the next level and compete for the Eastern Division title?
► Will senior Kyle Pohl be the starting quarterback for the season opener at nationally-ranked Oklahoma?
► The offense suffered key losses to graduation. Who will step up -- both in the running game and the passing game
► The defense was the backbone for the team much of the 2014 season. Can it step up again in 2015
► In 2005 the Zips averaged 22.6 points per game and 373.2 yards in the spread offense of offensive coordinator A.J. McElwee, who is back for this third season calling the plays.
► The quarterback position coming into fall camp will be very interesting as Kyle Pohl comes back for his senior season. In 2014 he completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 2,189 yuards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. He suffered an upper body injury late in their win at Miami and was lost for a big chunk of the season.
Sophomore Tommy Woodson replaced Pohl and had his moments, however his inexperience cost him in road losses at Ohio and Ball State. As camp opens, look for sophomore Tra’Von Chapman to push the pair for playing time and position.
► The running game the past couple of seasons was the property of Jawon Chisholm, who flirted with the 1,000-yard plateau for a couple of seasons before departing as one of the top runners in Zips history. Look for senior Conor Hundley to get more carries. He had 540 yards and four touchdowns a season ago. Others who had flashes of brilliance last season and could contribute this season are sophomore Manny Morgan, junior Hakeem Lawrence, and Donnell Alexander a transfer from Colorado State.
► The passing game saw the graduation of Akron’s two top receivers, Zach D’Orazio and L.T. Smith. However, one thing the Zips have at the receiver position is depth. Look for senior Andrew Pratt to be a key target. He had 27 receptions for 324 yards last season. Junior Mykael Traylor-Bennett recorded 20 catches -- also four touchdowns. In addition, junior Franshon Bickley had 30 receptions a year ago. Look for his numbers to head northward, as well as those for senior Imani Davis, junior Tyrell Goodman, and sophomore Anthony Young, a transfer from Indiana.
► The offensive line saw significant change last season and comes into 2015 as a plus. Yes it allowed 24 sacks in 2014. The good news is it gained a wealth of experience. The line will be led by three returning seniors starters. LT Isiah Williams, LG Dylan Brunbaugh and RT Tommy Brown, who is eligible after transferring from Ohio State. Another senior, Quaison Osborne, saw significant time at RG.
► The UA defense allowed 23.1 points and 371.1 yards per game under the direction of defensive coordinator Chuck Amato, who will again use the 4-3 alignment.
► The defensive line is led by senior Cody Grice, who had 47 tackles (12 solo) a season ago. His total included 7.5 for losses. In addition, Grice played offense as a short yardage fullback, scoring four touchdowns. In all of his 20 carries, he did not have one for negative yardage.
Joining Grice up front is junior Se’Von Pittman, a transfer from Ohio State who had 36 stops along with a sack a year ago. Senior Alphonso Horner recorded 28 stops in seven starts. Look for junior Jamal Marcus, another transfer from Columbus, and senior Rodney Coe (Iowa State) to challenge for playing time and contribute.
► The linebackers are the heart and soul of this team, and they are led by senior Jatavius Brown. He led the team in tackles with 99 (10.5 for losses) and was key in the win at Pittsburgh. Brown was the emotional leader all season long.
With the graduation of C.J. Mizell and Justin March, the Zips turn to senior Dylan Evans, and junior John Rachal. Look for Senior Dylan Monroe a transfer from Washington State to step in and be a force at the position
► The defense was the backbone for the team much of the 2014 season. Can it step up again in 2015 The defensive secondary was hit by the graduation of Johnny Robinson, Bre Ford, Devonte Morgan, and Martel Durant. Returning is junior CB DeAndre Scott who had two interceptions and 29 tackles a season ago. Senior CB Kris Givens also had a pair of picks and led the secondary with 45 total tackles, while fellow senior John Senter notched 21 stops and an INT. Look for sophomores Arch Guiser and Jerome Lane to come in and start. They gained experience a season ago, especially in conference play. Junior Larry Hope a transfer from Miami (FLA) could challenge for a starting spot.
► The Zips have one of the best kicking games not only in the MAC, but in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision. P Zach Paul averaged 42.5 yards per kick last season, with 24 of them landing inside the opponents 20. Senior Robert Stein handles placekicking. Although he lost his spot early in the season, a miss by freshman Tom O’ Leary on their first offensive possession at Penn State prompted Bowden to go back to Stein. He did not disappoint, going 13-of-16 on field goals and a perfect 27-of-27 on extra points. As a kickoff man, Stein had 14 touchbacks a season ago
► The return game has been a thorn in the side of the Zips the past couple years and must improve in 2015. Look for Bickley and Davis to be the main men in that department.
► In the Terry Bowden era, UA has raised its game against Big Six teams. There was the narrow loss at Michigan and another setback at Penn State, playing just about even with the Nittany Lions for three quarters before the breakthrough at Pitt.
► Akron opens the season at nationally-ranked Oklahoma. The last time UA opened with a ranked team was 2011 at Ohio State (42-0 loss. The Zips return home for a return engagement with Pitt before facing FCS opponent Savannah State and finishing the non-conference schedule with a trip to Louisiana Lafayette.
► UA’s MAC schedule is not tough they avoid the two Western Division powers (Northern Illinois and Toledo for a second straight year) and only face Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan in the cross-over games. However they face all of the Eastern foes starting with Ohio on October 3. The Zips head to Bowling Green on October 17, then in November they finish with Buffalo and Kent State at home.
► UA took major hits in the news this summer. First, a $60 million deficit meant massive firings and the elimination of baseball at the school. A report noted football had the lowest average attendance of all the FBS schools. Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill left just before that report came out, and tuition hikes are being discussed.
► On the field. The team is focused on the next level – challenging for the MAC East title..