Akron College Football Preview

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After an injury plagued 2016 and five wins, Akron is hoping to bounce back and reach a bowl Game with a lot of the players that helped them do so in 2015. The Zips have enough returning talent on both sides of the field to reach a bowl, but inconsistencies troubled them last year, although a lot of that was due to injury.

Senior quarterback Thomas Woodson has the talent to reach six wins for Akron, but the offense was stagnant for much of the time he missed last season. In Woodson’s last three Games missed, the team totaled 31 points with 28 of them coming in one Game. Woodson still finished with 18 TDs and only six picks, but had shoulder surgery in the spring so his status is uncertain. To help, Akron added former Virginia quarterback Nick Johns, so there’s experience even if Woodson can’t play every snap. Even then, the Zips are planning to run the ball a bit more behind an offensive line that returns Four starters to go with former Ohio State running back Warren Ball. This group struggled to do anything on the ground last year, so improvement in that area would be huge. The receivers are a bit bare with Austin Wolf the top returnee (550 yards, 5 TDs).

Akron dealt with even more injuries on the defensive side last year and that led to 33.6 points per Game allowed, which is a lot considering they gave up 13 points or less twice. There’s hope for the group this season and that has to do with all-Conference linebacker Ulysees Gilbert, who had 122 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. Jamal Davis, a transfer from Pittsburgh can be a useful addition to the front seven, as well. To go with that, the line returns three starters and linebacker will be deep with experience and upperclassmen. It’s the same situation in the secondary with Rutgers transfer Darian Dailey expected to play a role at cornerback in addition to three starters returning.

Akron has a tough non-Conference slate, but should once again grab at least two wins before MAC play begins. Fortunately for the Zips, three of their home Games come against teams that are expected to finish at the bottom of the Conference with Ball State, Buffalo and Kent State all being possible wins. From there, as long as all goes well on the injury front, there will be chances to upset teams on the road like Bowling Green or even Western Michigan early on.

The Zips kind of fell apart last season and finished by losing their last Four Games. Because of that, not much is expected from this team, but with 17 returning starters and a mostly favorable Schedule, Akron could return to a bowl Game in 2017, Terry Bowden’s sixth season as head coach. They actually had respectable odds at +1400 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference, which puts them above Bowling Green and set for third place in the division. Still, with an over/under at five wins, reaching a bowl Game will be tight.


2017 Akron Zips Football Schedule

Sept. 2 at Penn State
Sept. 9 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Sept. 16 vs. Iowa State
Sept. 23 at Troy
Sept. 30 at Bowling Green
Oct. 7 vs. Ball State
Oct. 14 at Western Michigan
Oct. 21 at Toledo
Oct. 28 vs. Buffalo
Nov. 7 at Miami (OH)
Nov. 14 vs. Ohio
Nov. 21 vs. Kent State

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