Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Akron Zips season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Akron Zips
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Akron Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
How the heck did that actually happen?
Akron was awful.
The coverage teams were miserable. The offense was the second-worst in the MAC and 121st in college football. The defense finished 103rd in the country and was also the second-worst in the conference.
The team struggled to score, had the MAC’s worst running game, was the worst in the sport in first downs allowed, couldn’t throw the ball, couldn’t convert in the red zone, couldn’t rush the passer and couldn’t protect the passer.
But it won the MAC East and played for the conference title.
Give head coach Terry Bowden his due. He might not get the top-shelf talent at Akron, and his team might have had a whole slew of problems, but it led the MAC in turnover margin, was terrific on both sides of the ball on third downs, and more than anything else, it just found a way to get the job done.
Ohio was the best team in the East, and probably the MAC. Akron came up with the 37-34 win it needed, and – to keep with the theme of the old school concert to kickoff the season, like Big Daddy Kane it gets the job done.
Yeah, the MAC East was down and the schedule wasn’t all that hard, but the Zips beat Western Michigan by one on the road, beat a good Buffalo team 21-20, and did what they had to do.
This year’s team, though, might have the same toughness and clutch ability, and it has the experience, too.
Depth is an issue, but the starting 11 on offense will be good enough to win with. Kato Nelson is a good-looking young quarterback, the receiving corps should be fine, and the line won’t be any worse.
Nine starters are back on defense including everyone in a secondary that led the MAC in interceptions. Ulysees Gilbert might be the best player in the conference – not just the best linebacker – leading a group that, again, knows how to do what’s needed.
And then there’s Bowden. Going into his seventh season at the helm, he’s got to two bowl games, had three 5-7 close calls, and all after a rough first season having to rebuild the program.
It might not always be pretty, and it might seem like it’s being done with smoke and mirrors, but Bowden and Akron will somehow find a way to be interesting again.