As some of you may have heard, there’s a football game down in Lincoln on Saturday night and, surprisingly, there will be an opponent on the other side of the ball.
The Akron Zips are coming off a 2017 season in which they finished 7-7 and won the MAC East going 6-2 in conference play including a division-clinching 37-34 win over Frank Solich’s Ohio Bobcats.
Their reward was a spot in the conference title game, a 45-28 loss to Toledo, and a trip to the Boca Raton Bowl where, in front of 25,912 fans averaging around 77.3 years of age, they were thumped 50-3 by Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic squad, a fate that absolutely no one deserved.
James Snyder of Hustle Belt was kind enough to answer some of our questions regarding Saturday night’s match-up. While he’s not exactly brimming with overconfidence at the Zips’ chances, he does point out that they might have a few weapons worth watching out for.
The 2018 Akron Zips appear to be very challenged on offense, even though they return their starting quarterback from last season. Where are the bright spots (besides Kato Nelson at quarterback) on offense?
Kwadarrius Smith is a burner who could benefit from more steady QB play. He isn’t a big guy, but he is a burner.
What type of offense does Akron run, and how do you expect them to use it against Nebraska?
I am not sure. They just kind of go with what works. Over the years it’s been super run-heavy or super pass-heavy. This season, I expect them to spread the field and let Nelson do his thing.
The defense has a lot of returning starters, but they weren’t very good last season (106th nationally in rush defense, 84th in pass defense). Who are the standouts on defense, and who is expected to be an up and coming player to watch for?
Linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III is one of the best players in the MAC, and the entire linebacking group is pretty good. The line needs to step up and sophomore Justin Sampson could be a guy that will take some pressure off the linebackers.
This will be Terry Bowden’s eighth year at Akron. He got the school their first bowl win and last year made it into the MAC Championship game. What is the atmosphere like for Akron football? Has Bowden made fans happy, given them hope, or are they just trudging along, hoping for the best?
There is a certain amount of fatalistic attitude about the football team. What happens happens, but the fans do seem to be paying more attention.
What is the biggest concern for Akron coming to Lincoln this Saturday?
Frostmania. If this was maybe his second or third season, and things didn’t go well early, the fans might back off a bit. However, even if this game is relatively close early, the fans will be cheering extra loud, and momentum will stay with the home team all game.
Are there any talented skill position players on Akron’s offense, besides Kato Nelson, that might make Nebraska fans want to rip their hair out?
The aforementioned Smith is the type of guy where if he gets one on one with a safety and he takes a slightly bad angle, it’s a touchdown.
Give us a prediction regarding the game against Nebraska this weekend.
When you think of a defending MAC division champ, generally that should give a team cause for concern. They’ve bitten and nearly bitten some powerhouses in the behind recently, but I don’t think that is the case in this game. The only way I see it being close is if the Akron secondary makes some big plays, which they are capable of doing.