The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Akron Zips.
No. 107: Akron Zips
Spring Game: April 21
Akron Spring Status
Akron is better than it’s being given credit for.
Terry Bowden has created a steady, solid program that’s gone to a bowl game twice in the last three years and hasn’t lost fewer than five games in any of the last five seasons. However, even with the run to the MAC Championship and with a trip to the Boca Raton Bowl, there’s work to be done.
The offense stalled way too often – being outscored by 82 points on the season – and now needing to find a new starting quarterback, a few new parts on the O line, and with the receiving corps and running game both big issues.
Even so, even though this might not be the most exciting team again, it should be one of the MAC’s most successful again.
Akron Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Wide receiver. The hope is for Kato Nelson to emerge from what should be an interesting three-way quarterback battle, but the starter needs someone to throw to. Leading receiver – at least in terms of yards – Kwadarrius Smith is back, but the next four top targets are gone from an okay-not-great passing game.
Akron Biggest Issue
The defense has to stop allowing first downs. It was a strange year for a defense that was great on third downs, but finished 103rd in the nation in total defense. Worst of all, it allowed 328 first downs – the most in college football. Only 13 other teams gave up over 300, and only UCLA and Arizona allowed 320 or more. The Zips gave up 294 first downs in 2016, and 248 in 2015.
Akron Biggest Positive
A whole lot of tacklers are back. Ulysees Gilbert is one of the MAC’s best defenders – coming off a 140 tackle season – leading a D that gets back its top seven tacklers and 11 of the top 12. The offense still might not be all that dynamic, but the defense could and should be even better.
Really, Why Are The Akron Zips Ranked Here?
There’s almost no margin for error with the way Akron plays. It’s missing a strong enough defense to shut down teams cold, it relies too much on takeaways – at least it did last year – and it didn’t have enough of an offense to overcome the problems on the other side.