Like many Iowa fans, I considered this game to be a mismatch from the get-go. However, after doing my research, I think that Akron will be a good season opener test for the Black and Gold.
Let's see how they stack up:
Akron: Charlie Frye, 6-4, 200, passed for 2,053 yards last year as a red-shirt freshman. He also beat out a Vick-like athlete to win the starting job.
Iowa: Brad Banks is a marvelously skilled athlete that is equally adept at running and passing. He has a cannon for an arm and displayed a good touch and accuracy in the spring game. However, he has never been "The Man."
Advantage: Akron. As Yogi Berra might say, "The only thing that beats experience is if you have done it before."
Akron: Brandon Payne returns after rushing for 1,000 yards in 2000. In addition, he was the MAC Frosh of the Year. The fullback, Dan Basch, 6-0, 233, has a great name and is an effective power runner.
Iowa: Three-year starter Ladell Betts is gone. Aaron Greving, the heir apparent, will miss this game due to an ankle. Iowa's ‘Mighty Mouse' Fred Russell, 5-8, 190, can scoot with the best of them. Sophomore Jermelle Lewis will be getting his first playing time. Fullback, Edgar Cervantes, 6-3, 240, will be getting his first start.
Advantage: Akron. Once again, a huge experience edge for Akron.
Receivers Akron: Nick Sparks, #9, 6-3, 206 has 4.38 speed and is the athlete that lost the quarterback battle to Payne. He is a deep threat that Iowa must cover very well. Matt Cherry led the Zips in receiving last year with 48 catches. TE Nick Fortener, 6-1, 243, has good speed.
Iowa: C.J. Jones will be the #1 option this year after catching 34 passes last year. RS Freshman Ed Hinkle starred in the spring game, while true Frosh, Clint Solomon, 6-4, 175, gives Iowa a tall threat to take it to the house. TE Dallas Clark, 6-4, 244, is simply the best. ‘Nuf said.
Akron: Zips must replace four starters.
Iowa: Gallery, Steinbach, Nelson, Sobieski and Porter form what may be Iowa's best front wall ever.
Advantage: Iowa. A big edge, if you now what I mean.
Akron: Zips return three starters. Watch for DE Marques Hayes, #86. The 6-1, 262, edge rusher has 4.6 speed and benches 400.
Iowa: Although Colin Cole is the only returning starter, Jared Clauss and Howard Hodges have a lot of experience. Hodges should be a tremendous pass rusher, but has Super Soph Matt Roth breathing down his neck.
Advantage: Iowa. Hawkeye defensive line should be very effective against the inexperienced Akron offensive line while the massive Iowa blockers will be the best unit that the Zips will play this year.
Akron: Two starters return. Watch for RS Frosh Diontre Earl, #51, who had his high school jersey retired, looked liked he would start, as a true frosh but was injured and red-shirted.
Iowa: Another team strength for the Hawks. Starters Fred Barr and Grant Steen return and Kevin will prove that he is Worthy of his starting assignment.
Akron: Only two starters return from a unit that finished toward the bottom of the pass ‘D' ratings. They could be ripe to be plucked.
Iowa: Three starters return from last year's crack unit. The Erie Assassin, Bob Sanders keys this strong unit. Antwan Allen, RS Frosh at corner will be tested.
Another Iowa advantage is Coach Doyle's unconventional training methods where he has the players throw tires. Akron, Ohio's tire capital, will learn soon enough of Iowa's training.
The weather promises to be sunny and in the 80's for Iowa's first victory of the year. So fill your coolers with pop and beer for the early morning kickoff at 11 a.m. Bring your normal early morning tailgate fare for this ‘eggsellent' Iowa breakfast encounter.
You stuck-in the mud's at home will enjoy a telecast with Iowa's own, Larry Morgan, doing the play-by-play and former Hawk TE, Marv Cook, supplying the color.
Let's be good hosts to our Ohio friends until they let the rubber hit the road on the way back to Akron.