How they fared in 2002: (4-8 overall, 3-5 MAC)
Iowa 57, Akron 21
Maryland 44, Akron 14
Central Michigan 24, Akron 17
Virginia 48, Akron 29
Miami (OH) 48, Akron 31
Eastern Michigan 42, Akron 34
Akron 49, Liberty 21
Central Florida 28, Akron 17
Akron 34, Marshall 20
Ohio 27, Akron 10
Akron 21, Buffalo 10
Akron 48, Kent State 10
Aug. 28 v. Kent State
Sept. 6 at Wisconsin
Sept. 13 v. Eastern Michigan
Sept. 20 v. Howard
Sept. 27 at Buffalo
Oct. 4 at Miami (OH)
Oct. 11 v. Cal-Poly
Oct. 18 v. Central Florida
Oct. 25 at Connecticut
Nov. 1 at Marshall
Nov. 8 at Central Michigan
Nov. 15 v. Ohio
Starters returning: 11 offense, six defense, both kickers, punt and kick returners
Coach Lee Owens: In his eighth season as a head coach, all at Akron, Owens is 33-56.
Versus Wisconsin: This will be the first meeting between the Badgers and the Zips.
Zips 2002 in brief: Akron took its lumps last season, starting the year 0-6, including drubbings at the hands of Iowa, Maryland and Virginia. Give the Zips credit, though?those three squads combined for 31 wins last season. Akron has been taking its shots in an effort to gain exposure?two seasons ago Ohio State and Purdue graced the schedule. The Zips enjoyed a late season turnaround, winning three out of four to close, including a win over then-No. 25 Marshall, the school's first victory ever over a ranked opponent.
The defense struggled immensely, particularly early in the season, and finished 91st in the nation in scoring defense (31.6 points per game), but gave up a much-improved 19.3 points per game through the final six games of the season. Akron went 4-2 in that stretch.
Quarterback Charlie Frye put up gaudy numbers, completing 250 of 380 passes for 2,824 yards, all single-season team records. Frye also tossed 15 touchdowns against nine interceptions, ran for 125 yards and seven touchdowns and caught a pass (albeit for a loss of four yards). He was fifth in the nation in completion percentage (65.8).
Running back Bob Hendry became only the second Akron running back to run for 1,000 yards since the Zips joined Division 1-A in 1987. Hendry tallied 1,021 yards, with 785 coming in the team's final six games.
Looking ahead to 2003: The paltry win total appears to put a wrench in Akron's rebuilding plans, but with all of the offense, more than half the defense, both kickers and both returnmen coming back, the Zips have an incredible level of experience. The 2002 squad had only 14 seniors, and just 10 of them finished the year on the offensive or defensive two-deep.
The Zips defense, despite losing five starters, must build on the end-of-season improvement for Akron to move out of the rebuilding stages. Frye and Hendry lead an offense that should be very formidable. With Wisconsin and Central Florida on tap Akron continues to find tough non-conference opponents, but with only one BCS-conference opponent, the schedule is lighter than in recent seasons.
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