Akron Zips 2017 College Football Preview, Schedule, Prediction, Depth Chart
Akron Zips 2017 Preview
The 2017 Akron Zips hope to avoid the injury bug and the late season struggles of a season ago.
Overview: Terry Bowden has proven himself at Akron but a 5-7 record in 2016 was the result of numerous injuries but the team has enough talent back to reverse their fortunes if health isn’t an issue although depth is a question.
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Offense: The Akron Zips have to have a healthy Thomas Woodson under center after showing tremendous potential in 2016 but if he struggles or gets hurt the team will have ex-Virginia QB Nick Johns running the show. One Area that has the Zips concerned has to be at receiver with JoJo Natson and Jerome Lane graduating which has Tra’Von Chapman moving to WR and joining Austin Wolf, Kwadarrius Smith and Kevin Gladney. If Akron does struggle to throw the football then the rushing game has to carry the load and that means Van Edwards Jr., Manny Morgan and Deltron Sands (via Oregon State) will be in the spotlight. The good news for Akron is the offensive line returns all five starters so the ground game should be strong.
Defense: The effectiveness of the Akron defense could also depend on remaining healthy along with contributions from numerous transfers which Bowden always seems to sign. The Zips were banged up at defensive tackle a season ago and the success of this unit rests with the healthy return of Davon’te Jest and Brock Boxen who join Ibrahima Camara and Darius Copeland to help clog the middle versus the run. The Zips do need somebody to step up at defensive end and incumbent Deon’Tae Moore and his three TFL is the only guy back with the top three graduating. Akron also loses their top three cornerbacks leaving Kyron Brown and his one pick as the top guy back so transfers Mark Ellis and Darian Dailey are hopefully ready to step up. Akron needs Zach Guiser to be 100% at safety while leading tackler Alvin Davis is penciled in at rover. Linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III looks to match his 11.5 TFL including four sacks and three passes defensed but the Zips might need to mix and match players and positions.
Special Teams: The Akron special teams features a strong placekicker in Tom O’Leary who hit 10-11 field goals with Van Edwards Jr. averaging almost 24 yards on kick returns, however, punting and punt returns was an area that did not stand out.
Outlook: The Zips don’t possess a ton of depth so remaining healthy is an obvious key and so will be the contributions of transfers. I’d say a healthy Akron will a tough out but difficult to project because we didn’t see a full lineup in 2016 although a Bowl eligible year is what I think.
9-2 @ Penn State
9-9 vs. Ark-Pine Bluff
9-16 vs. Iowa State
9-23 @ Troy
9-30 @ Bowling Green
10-7 vs. Ball State
10-14 @ Western Michigan
10-21 @ Toledo
10-28 vs. Buffalo
11-7 @ Miami (Ohio)
11-14 vs. Ohio
11-21 vs. Kent State