Brian Wagner, LB – this 6'2", 220-pound linebacker wasted little time making a big impact for the Zips as a redshirt freshman a year ago, earning second-team All-MAC honors after leading the team with 132 tackles and seven tackles for loss. He recorded double-digit tackles in nine of Akron's 12 games, including a 12-tackle effort in Akron's 38-21 loss to Indiana. This season he's pretty well picked up where he left off, ranking second on the team with 26 tackles to go along with one interception, one forced fumble and two passes broken up. Wagner has adjusted to a slightly different Akron defensive formation under Ianello, as the Zips switched from J.D. Brookhart's 3-3-5 formation to a more traditional 4-3-4 this season.
Jeremy LaFrance, WR – one of the few bright spots on an otherwise woeful Zip offense has been the play of LaFrance, who leads the team in receptions (15) and receiving yards (186). While this senior was the team's top receiver a season ago with 43 receptions for 520 yards and two scores, he's gone from the main threat to seemingly the only threat, since his 15 receptions is 10 more than any other receiver on the Zips' roster. In addition to his role with the Zips' offense, LaFrance is also the player Ianello turns to on special teams. He's averaging 7.5 yards/punt return and 20.4 yards/kickoff return and has been the team's top choice in both areas.
Rob Ianello, Head Coach – Ianello is the Zips' first-year coach, having taken over after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame. With the Irish, the 44-year-old Ianello served as Charlie Weis' wide receivers coach as well as the program's recruiting coordinator. Before arriving at Notre Dame in 2005, Ianello was an assistant at a handful of high-profile BCS programs, including Alabama, Arizona and Wisconsin. While this is Ianello's first full-time head coaching job, he did have a very limited tenure at the helm of the Irish program. After Weis was fired Nov. 30, Ianello was named interim coach while Notre Dame conducted its coaching search. That lasted only a matter of days, though, as Ianello was named Akron's head coach Dec. 9, two days before Notre Dame announced Brian Kelly would be taking over its program.
Curt Mallory, Defensive Coordinator – a very familiar name to IU football fans, Curt Mallory's coaching journey has taken him to Akron where he's in his first year as the program's Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks coach. The son of legendary IU Coach Bill Mallory, Curt was hired at Akron after spending the previous five seasons at Illinois. With the Illini, Mallory coached the secondary and spent the last three seasons as the program's co-defensive coordinator. Before his stint in Champaign, Mallory spent three years as the secondary coach in Bloomington under Gerry DiNardo. Akron is the fifth program that the 41-year-old Mallory has now worked at, following Illinois, Iowa, Central Michigan and Ball State.
On Sunday – Five Numbers to Note
On Monday – Four Names to Know
On Tuesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Wednesday – Two Big Concerns
On Thursday – One Bold Prediction
AKRON: Four Days and Counting
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