CFN: The Zips

CollegeFootballNews' Akron section shows that, thus far, there's not much zip in the Zips.

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Akron Zips

2013 Record: 1-1
8/29 at UCF L 38-7
9/7 James Madison W 35-33
9/14 at Michigan
9/21 Louisiana
9/28 at Bowling Green
10/5 Ohio
10/12 at Northern Illinois
10/19 at Miami Univ.
10/26 Ball State
11/2 Kent State
11/9 at UMass
11/29 Toledo

at Akron 35, James Madison 33, Sept. 7
Basically … Akron held on as James Madison scored with just over five minutes to play to pull within two, but couldn’t click on the two point conversion. JMU had one final shot, getting down deep in Akron territory, but time ran out before the field goal team could come on. Nick Hirschman and Kyle Pohl each threw two touchdown passes for the Zips, with Zach D’Orazio catching a score from each. Hirschman also ran for a score.
- Pohl was fine, but Hirschman does more for the attack. Neither one runs, but Hirschman was able to come up with the bigger pass plays and Pohl threw a pick. Each one will continue to get a shot.
- Jawan Chisholm ran well, but the Zips got away from him. He tore off a 55-yard dash, and while he was bottled up several times, he needs to get at least 20 carries a game. He ran 11 times for 87 yards.
- The Zips only had the ball for 21:40, but it was able to convert on third downs. The offense just couldn’t grind out the clock with its quick style.

at UCF 38, Akron 7, Aug. 29
Basically … Blake Bortles connected with Breshad Perriman for a 91-yard touchdown less than a minute into the game, and UCF had no problems from there scoring the first 38 points of the game. Bortles finished with three touchdown passes and Storm Johnson ran for two third quarter touchdowns. The UCF defense lost its shutout with 42 seconds to play on an 11-yard Imani Davis catch.
- Blake Bortles took target practice. Storm Johnson might have handle the ground game with 99 yards and two scores, but it was Bortles who handled the offense well and spread the ball around well.
- Akron simply couldn’t convert drives into points. Kyle Pohl was able to connect on 16-of-21 passes, but there wasn’t any pop or explosion to the attack.
- Akron was able to get into the backfield, but the pressure didn’t do enough to shake Bortles. The secondary didn’t come up with enough big plays, but Bortles also came up with a great game.
- UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer was a one man wrecking crew. He came up with ten tackles and three tackles for loss, always getting around the ball.

Spring Analysis

Why To Be Excited ... The Zips welcome back 15 starters including running back Jawon Chisolm and most of the top receivers from an attack that led the MAC in passing averaging 313 yards per game. Terry Bowden is now firmly entrenched after getting through his first year at the helm and has a rising team with plenty of young depth and options. There will be plenty of big battles throughout spring ball, especially at quarterback, but the competition across the board should be solid.

Why To Be Grouchy ... Quarterback Dalton Williams will be missed. He was the one positive in an ugly season, and while he wasn’t efficient, he bombed away and did a decent job of keeping pace with the defense giving up yards and points in chunks. The defense that was among the worst in America against the run has to improve despite the loss of linebackers Kurt Mangum and Troy Gilmer, while the right side of the offensive line, a relative positive last year, needs replacements after losing tackle Adam Bice and guard Mitch Straight.

What Needs Working On ... The defense has to tighten up and come up with more key plays. Stunningly, for a defense so bad, coming up with third down stops wasn’t much of a problem, but there were almost no game-changing moments with a mere five interceptions and just three recovered fumbles over the final eight games. The offense will still be a work in progress, but to start improving on the 1-11 record the secondary that got torched on too many big plays has to give quarterbacks something to worry about.

Non-Conference Games: at UCF, James Madison, at Michigan, Louisiana
Games Against The West: Ball State, at Northern Illinois, Toledo
Realistic Best Case Record: 4-8
Worst Case Record: 0-12
Likely Finish: 1-11

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: James Madison

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at UCF, at Michigan, Louisiana, at Bowling Green, Ohio, at Northern Illinois, at Miami Univ., Ball State, Kent State, at UMass, Toledo

Schedule Analysis: Even though the Zips should be better, the record might not reflect it with no sure wins. James Madison won’t be a typical FCS layup, and the easiest FBS game against UMass is on the road. However, the game against the Minutemen comes in November with two weeks to prepare. Five of the first seven games are on the road including dates at USC, Michigan, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois that could all get extremely ugly. Three of the last four games are at home, but Ball State, Kent State and Toledo will be strong.

Team Concerns For 2013: Terry Bowden has to get more from a defensive front that was awful against the run and didn't get enough production into the backfield. It all ended up trickling down the defense with the secondary giving up way too many big plays, partly because quarterbacks got all day to work. The kickoff return game was the worst in the nation, while the running game fizzled averaging just 114 yards per game.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Linebackers. The secondary is getting several pieces including corner Mykel Traylor-Bennett and JUCO transfer Donte Williams, and quarterback Tommy Woodson and receiver Austin Wolf will end up making an impact down the road, but best position is linebacker with local products Jerome Lane and Deontae Moore eventual starters, and JUCO transfer Jon Shelby bringing some instant depth.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 105. That Class Was Heavy On ... New head coach Terry Bowden has to find as much help for the offense as possible … now. Last year’s class brought in plenty of receivers, but the line has to be night-and-day better. This class will upgrade the front five, while going after a few backs to improve a woeful running game is a must. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 107. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill Players. Rob Ianello’s anemic offense needs more pop, and while it’s asking a lot to get it right away from a recruiting class, at least one running back should emerge from the fray. Bre Ford and Karell Bostick will get every opportunity early on. The receiving corps gets more help with smallish speedsters. JUCO transfer center Vinnie Rizzo could see time immediately.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 98. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players, skill players, skill players. The Zips loaded up on wide receivers last year and brought even more in this season. For a team that struggled so much offensively, there's reason to get excited with QB Patrick Nicely, last year's big recruit, getting weapons to work with highlighted by RB Erick Howard, who's better than anyone the team had last year. Even more receivers were brought in with Keith Sconiers, Anthony Schrock, and Mike Bizzarro all with size and all physical.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 111. That Class Was Heavy On ... Wide receivers. The immediate help is at cornerback, but the bulk is at receiver. There aren’t any five-star, sure-thing prospects, but there are a lot of them with various types and sizes. New QB Patrick Nicely, a passer, will have targets to work with once he becomes part of the mix in three years.

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