The Akron Zips and Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash clash Thursday night in week 1 college football action from InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
The Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash come into the 2022 season looking to move on from a frustrating 2021 season that saw the Red Flash finish 5-6 overall, including 4-3 in NEC conference play, with all three conference losses coming by a combined five points last season. Justin Sliwoski is back after throwing for 1,165 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one pick for the Red Flash last season while Lovell Armstead will likely be the lead back as the top returning RB with 305 rushing yards last season. Brandan Lisenby is the top returning pass catcher for the Red Flash after logging 471 receiving yards and a pair of TDs last season. On defense, Donnell Brown returns as the leading sack man from last year’s squad, putting up 5 sacks last season for one of the best pass rushes in the FCS for St. Francis (PA).
The Akron Zips will be looking to take a step forward in year one of the Joe Moorhead era, as the Zips finished a lifeless 2-10 last season including a 1-7 record in MAC conference play, but on the bright side, the Zips have increased their win total in back-to-back seasons. It’s a lot for Akron to overcome, losing their top QB to Georgia Tech as well as their two top receivers, but DJ Irons Jr. has size at QB and can be a big time playmaker if given the opportunities for the Zips as he threw for almost 900 yards, 8 TDs and 4 INTs for the Zips last season. The other good news for Akron is that their already decent ground attack got better, adding Minnesota transfer Cam Wiley to go alongside leading returning rusher Jonzell Norrils who rushed for a team-high 573 yards last season. On defense, there are a lot of returnees from last year’s unit, they just have to be better than what they were last year. Jeslord Boateng returns at linebacker and if the Zips can be given for one thing defensively, it’s that they have some big boys at linebacker alongside Boateng. The Zips’ best asset though, may be their secondary, as Charles Amankwaa is back after leading the Zips with 3 interceptions while Jaylen Kelly-Powell had 73 tackles for the Zips last season.
I'll admit, I'm not always fond of laying points with Akron, especially more than a couple of scores even against a team like St. Francis. However, Akron, looking up and down their lineup, looks to be one of the more improved teams in the MAC, especially if DJ Irons Jr. pans out with the potential that many are lining him up with. The Red Flash may hang early on, but I'm expecting the empty possessions to pile up and for Akron to eventually cover this number. Give me Akron.