Last Season: 1-11
Top 5 Returning Starters: RB Jawon Chisholm, CB Malachi Freeman, WR Dee Frieson, DL Nick Caponi, LB Justin March
Key Losses: WR Marquelo Suel, DE J.D. Griggs, QB Dalton Williams, LBs Troy Gilmer and Kurt Magnum
Akron football has gone 1-11 three years in a row, let that sink in. Three wins in three years. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster coming into Saturday, I don’t know what else is.
This is the kind of game where second stringers will see plenty of playing time to gain experience and for the starters to heal their bumps and bruises heading into their matchup against UCONN. Compared to CMU, and all due respect to Akron, this will be a definite cakewalk.
The Zips offense returns most of their starters from last season. Granted the team had an awful year in the standings, they were the number one passing team in the MAC conference, silver lining. The biggest loss coming into this season was losing QB Dalton Williams. Williams finished last season with 3387 yards and 25 touchdowns. In an unrelated note, and also keep things in perspective, Williams would’ve broken John Navarre and tie Chad Henne’s records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single season respectively.
Looking to fill the void left by Williams are the tandem of redshirt freshman Kyle Pohl and junior Nick Hirschman. Both have split time during the season. A player to look out for coming into Saturday is returning leading rusher Jawon Chisholm. He finished last season with 953 yards and five touchdowns.
The biggest strength of the Akron offense is their receiving group. Even though they lose their best receiver from last season in Marquelo Suel, they return guys like Dee Frieson, Keith Sconiers, and L.T. Smith. Those three combined for 137 catches for 1388 yards and eight touchdowns.
The biggest loss the defense suffered is losing their best sack producer in J.D. Griggs to the NFL. Though the defensive line returns three starters, most notably Nico Caponi and Cody Grice, there is veteran presence to help band-aid the loss of Griggs.
Akron will also have to replace their top two tacklers on the team in linebackers Troy Gilmer and Kurt Magnum. Returning LB Justin March is arguably the most important piece of this Akron defense. Last season, March finished with 67 tackles, two for loss and one interception.
Like I said to begin this post, the outlook is bleak for Akron. This is the perfect opportunity for Gardner, Gallon, and the like to pad their stats for the first half or three quarters and be able to rest for the remainder of the game. Games such as this one is where Shane Morris and other freshman vying for playing time will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their abilities and gain valuable in-game experience.
I don’t get an App State vibe with this game, just another MAC opponent coming into Michigan Stadium and suffering a loss by the hands of the Wolverines.