The Akron Zips begin their third season under coach Terry Bowden tonight at 7 at InfoCision Stadium against Howard University.
In that short time, Bowden and his staff have gotten the team moving in the right direction attitudinally, what remains to be seen is whether it shows on the field.
“We’re definitely not there yet,” Bowden said in his weekly press conference. “Potential is what we still have. We haven't done it yet. I think to some point changing the culture to me is when players go on the field and deep down inside - subconscious or otherwise - they feel like they’re going to win and not lose, good things are going to happen and not bad.”
In other words, Bowden expects his team to embrace the expectations this year. Questions remain, however and the answers will begin to come against Howard. Here are five things to look for tonight against the Bison:
Intensity level: The offense will have to be business-like with laser focus. That, however, doesn’t mean they cannot play with intensity. It’s just a different type. It’s different on the other side as defensive play at least encompasses some emotion to enhance any strength a unit had. The Zips possess several. The key is blending it all.
Quarterback play: Starter Kyle Pohl is confident. It would be nice to see what he can do when he’s healthy, unlike last year when he dealt with ankle issues most of the year. He elevates his game and the defense lives up to expectations, the team will create plenty of success for themselves.
Outside receiver play: That’s the most pressing question with the receiving corps. Will L.T. Smith, who had some success, deliver on the right outside, the dominant receiver position in Bowden’s offense?
Se’Von Pittman inside: The Canton McKinley standout is seeing his first field play in two years. He’s made the transition to defensive tackle where defensive coordinator Chuck Amato will take care of his towering size and incredible speed.
The defensive backfield: The Zips’ front seven has the potential to dominate. What the defensive backfield can do remains to be seen. There were times in preseason camp they looked impressive. Now they have to bring that to a game.