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Akron Zips football: Turnovers have been team's undoing

By George Thomas Published: October 31, 2014

The University of Akron football team will face their most significant game in coach Terry Bowden’s short tenure Tuesday when they play the Bowling Green Falcons Tuesday night at InfoCision Stadium.

The Zips (4-4, 2-2) can still control their destiny in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division with a win over Bowling Green (5-3, 3-1).  A win ties them for the division lead, giving them the inside track to eventually play for the conference championship in Detroit.

But UA will have to fix one problem that has plagued the team in their past two games – turnovers.

“What we talked to our players about is eliminating the turnovers,” Bowden said. “I don't think the effort changed.  I don't think their attitude changed.  The turnovers changed.”

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Funeral arrangements set for former UA basketball operations director Dan Peters

By Marla Ridenour Published: October 29, 2014

Funeral services have been set for former University of Akron director of basketball operations Dan Peters, 60, who died from pancreatic cancer Monday.

Mr. Peters, a graduate of Canton Central Catholic High School and Kent State, also coached at Ohio State, Youngstown State, Walsh University and the University of Cincinnati.

Calling hours are 4-8 p.m. Friday at Paquelet Funeral Home, 1100 Wales Road NE, Massillon, 44646. A funeral mass will be held at Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, 1800 Steese Road, Uniontown, 44685, on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Messages may be sent to the family at www.paquelet.com.
 

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Mid-American Conference: League will support 'cost of attendance' measure

By George Thomas Published: October 28, 2014

 From a Mid-American Conference news release:
CLEVELAND
– With a strong commitment to sportsmanship, integrity and a student-first student-athlete experience, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Council of Presidents affirms its commitment to the collegiate experience.  The MAC will support the redefinition of an athletics grant-in-aid to include cost of attendance if autonomous legislation is enacted during the annual NCAA Convention in January, 2015.

 The presidents of the MAC are committed to remaining a strong, vibrant and values-oriented NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision Conference, focused on the overall campus life experience of the individual student-athletes which includes academic success and graduation, social growth and teams competing at the highest competitive levels.

 “The MAC is dedicated to supporting our student-athletes in the classroom, the community and on the playing field with the ultimate goal of graduating and having a great collegiate experience,” said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. 

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Akron Zips football: Five keys to beating the Ball State Cardinals

By George Thomas Published: October 23, 2014

Akron Zips coach Terry Bowden often says that after a loss it’s how you respond that determines at team’s future.  That is never more true than this weekend for the Zips (4-3, 2-1) as they take on the Ball State Cardinals (2-5, 1-2) in Muncie, Ind.  After missing a chance to vanquish some demons and take a leading position in the MAC East Division, UA instead allowed the Bobcats into the conversation after losing to them 23-20. Now there will be three teams – add Bowling Green to the mix – scrapping for the crown.  That situation makes every game important.  UA needs to build momentum because their next challenge will come against the Falcons.  Here are five keys to beating the Cardinals.

Ignore Ball State’s record:  The Cardinals own a 2-5 record and that should be ignored. This is where the cliché “they’re  better than their record indicates” comes in.    The Cardinals have been in every game they’ve played and have lost by an average margin of seven points in five games.  Two of the games they lost came by just four points each. It’s a team that misses its former quarterback Keith Wenning, but they’re also coming off a win giving them some momentum.

Establish the running game:  Bowden said he felt more comfortable passing the ball last week against Ohio after the team lost a key cog and the offensive line and shuffled it to compensate.  Jawon Chisholm and Conor Hundley combined for 13 carries.  I’m no football coach, but I contend that was a mistake with a freshman quarterback in Tommy Woodson getting his first start. Ball State gives up 197 yards rushing per game.  Do the math. It makes sense to try to establish the run no matter who is in at quarterback.  Kyle Pohl, who started every games until suffering a head injury, was back at practice this week and Bowden will keep Ball coach Pete Lembo guessing.  Call me crazy, but I think a healthy, clear-headed Pohl helps.

That defense must get to Ball quarterback Jack Milas:  Milas produced a breakout game against their win against Central Michigan last week, but the fact is he is a freshman.   If they can get some clean hits on him, he will be rattled.  Throwing a few exotic blitzes his way from the secondary couldn’t hurt either.  It won’t be easy, the Ball State offensive line has only given up 10 sacks on the season.   Every little bit is going to help because the Cards average more than 25 points per game and have scored more than 30 in each of their past two outings.

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Akron Zips football: View from the other side - Ball State Cardinals

By George Thomas Published: October 23, 2014

After a few weeks off,  we return to getting a look at the Akron Zips’ opponent.   This week Ben Breiner of the Star Press in Muncie, Ind. provides insight into what UA can expect against the Ball State Cardinals.

How difficult has it been to replace Keith Wenning?

To this point, all sorts of difficult. He was the guy who really ran the offensive show, made things go through the air. That in turn helped the ground game go, and Ball State has been a team that under Pete Lembo has led with his offense. For the first five games, the aerial attack showed little spark. So in short, he's been missed.

Has losing him been the difference in losing those close games?

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Akron Zips football: Kyle Pohl back at practice, but will he start?

By George Thomas Published: October 21, 2014

University of Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl was back on the field Tuesday and pronounced himself healthy after missing last week’s game against Ohio University.

“I feel healthy.  It’s always scary thing, a head injury, but I feel good,” he said.

How much he plays against the team’s next opponent, Ball State, remains to be seen however.

In his place redshirt freshman Thomas Woodson got the start, completing 23-of-45 passes for 268 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Akron Zips football: UA falls to the Ohio Bobcats 23-20

By George Thomas Published: October 18, 2014

ATHENS:  A fumble, their third turnover of the day) with less than four minutes left in the game sealed the University of Akron’s fate against Ohio University Saturday afternoon at Peden Stadium  The Zips dropped their seven consecutive game to OU 23-20 after Josiah Yazdani connected on a 22-yard field goal with 1:55 left in the game.  

With the score tied at 20, Zips (3-3, 2-1) quarterback Thomas Woodson hit receiver Andrew Pratt with what would have been a short gain in the flat.  Pratt took two steps before the ball tumbled out eventually being recovered by the Bobcats’ Devin Bass who returned the ball to the UA 21-yard line. Six plays later, Yazdani connected.

The Zips appeared ready to mount a drive to at least tie the game, getting two first downs and into Ohio territory.   Woodson connected with receiver L.T. Smith and then Zach D’Orazio before Josh Kristoff of the Bobcats picked the ball off.

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Akron Zips football: Five keys for UA to beat the Ohio Bobcats

By George Thomas Published: October 17, 2014

There’s a sense that a shift in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division is afoot as the Akron Zips – winners of two consecutive – appear to be putting things together.

But there’s also reality.  Reality in this case dictates that any talk of power shifts means that the Zips have to go through the Ohio Bobcats to state their case or make their claim.

This week that will be easier said than done, despite the Bobcats 3-4 record.  The Zips have lost six consecutive to OU and they will go in without starting quarterback Kyle Pohl.  In his place, quarterback Thomas Woodson will get his first career start.  Right now, the Zips offensive staff looks as if it’s filled with geniuses, because Woodson has already appeared in five games this season.

But what must transpire for him to get his first career victory?  Here’s a rundown of the five keys to beating the Bobcats:

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Podcast: Akron/Ohio preview - Can the Zips beat the Bobcats?

By Dan Kadar Published: October 16, 2014
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The University of Akron plays Ohio University at 2 p.m. Saturday. Are the Bobcats the Zips' biggest rival in sports? How will Akron fare against a tougher Mid-American Conference opponent? Who is the team's MVP? Zips beat reporter George Thomas answers that question and more.

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Akron Zips football: Final thoughts about UA's win over the Miami RedHawks

By George Thomas Published: October 11, 2014

This game had the makings of a perfect effort until quarterback Kyle Pohl was injured on a sack on the final play of the first half of their game against the Miami RedHawks.

Pohl spent most of the second half in the locker room and his status is unknown.  But under his guidance UA was getting points at one point taking a 12-0 lead before closing out the half with a 15-13 advantage which, guessing here was too close for some.

That point was moot as the defense re-asserted itself after giving up two scores to the RedHawks.  Overall, the defense produced nine sacks, three turnovers and took the fight to Miami while the offense did just enough to win with backup quarterback Thomas Woodson replacing Pohl. Here are my final observations with respect to today’s win by the Zips, their fifth consecutive over a Mid-American Conference opponent dating back to last season and the 150th of coach Terry Bowden’s career:

They don’t make awards for players like Cody Grice, but they should:   Grice has stood out since being switched to the defensive side of the ball with Bowden’s arrival.  This year?  He’s upped his game, significantly.  Grice not only scored a two-yard TD [Zips fans are getting used to that, it’s his third on the season], but he sacked Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix and recovered a fumble.  That’s a good day’s work for any football player.  The touchdowns and plays on defense are valuable, but his brand of leadership is rubbing off on the Zips without a doubt.

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Akron Zips football: UA beats Miami RedHawks 29-19

By George Thomas Published: October 11, 2014

The Akron Zips registered nine sacks and forced three turnovers on their way to a 29-19 win over the Miami RedHawks at InfoCision Stadium Saturday.

Three Zips recorded   two sacks and defensive lineman Cody Grice, pulling double duty, recovered a fumble, recorded a sack and ran for a touchdown in the win. UA running back Jawon Chisholm rushed for two TDs and 102 yards on 17 carries. 

RedHawks quarterback Andrew Hendrix passed for 352 yards on 24-of-41 attempts.  He tossed three touchdowns and an interception. 

The Zips lost starting quarterback Kyle Pohl for the rest of the game when he was sacked on what turned out to be the last play of the first half.

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Akron Zips football: Five keys to beat the Miami RedHawks

By George Thomas Published: October 10, 2014

The Akron Zips (3-2, 1-1) take on the Miami RedHawks (1-5, 1-1) and they shouldn’t, despite the team’s record, take the RedHawks lightly.  They’re coming off a huge comeback win over the UMass Minutemen, so they are coming in with at least some momentum and they have a quarterback who can inflict some damage.  Here are five keys to the game:

Stop the pass first:  It goes against conventional wisdom with respect to how to play defense in football, but given the RedHawks situation, this is the logical first step.  The reasoning is simple:  quarterback Andrew Hendrix, a transfer from Notre Dame, has elevated the Miami passing game.  Last year the RedHawks averaged just 124.3 passing yards per game.  This year it’s more than doubled to 296.5 yards per game.    He’s already bested several marks from last year’s passing offense.  To stop him…

Get a rush on him:  The Zips may have to dial up the rush just a little bit to rattle Mr. Hendrix.  With him the RedHawks average 23.3 points per game and are coming off a game with the UMass Minutemen in which they overcame a 41-14 deficit to win the game, breaking a 21-game losing streak  Last season they averaged 9.8 points per game.   If the Zips can keep someone in his face - and stats Miami has given up 20 sacks so far this season - getting a combination of hurries and sacks, it makes the defensive backs jobs that much easier because they will have to…                             

Stop receiver David Frazier:  Frazier is having a huge year so far with 31 receptions for 575 yards and he averages 18.5 yards per catch.  He’s the only Miami receiver among the leaders in receptions and receiving yards in those categories suggesting that he is Hendrix’s go-to guy.   He has a dozen plays of 20 yards or more.  He is dangerous. He is, however, by no means the only target three other Miami receivers have receptions ranging from 17-19 on the season, but when Hendrix looks to find someone in the end zone, and Sam Martin has four TD catches on the season.  The Zips DBs could have their hands full.

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Akron 31, Eastern Michigan 6: George Thomas' final thoughts with coach Terry Bowden postgame video

By George Thomas Published: October 4, 2014

Don’t underestimate the importance of the Akron Zips 31-6 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles Saturday at InfoCision Stadium for a myriad of reasons. Here are my final thoughts regarding the victory.

Winning the conference opener  in conjunction with last week’s upset of Pitt is a huge lift:  Considering the Zips had not won a Mid-American Conference opener since 2007, it turns another stained page in their history. It’s in the past, they can forget it.  It’s over and done with.  It helps to build confidence and momentum heading into next week.

Honesty time:  I thought I would be looking at a game where the offense struggled and the Zips found a way to blow things.  Shame on me and defensive coordinator Chuck Amato will let me know that.  This isn’t the same old Zips team.  The defense will be there all season.  When they get stung – as they did by an early Eagles’ drive – they will bounce back – as they did pitching a shutout the rest of the way.  After the Eagles took a 6-0 lead, the Zips outscored them 31-0.  Did UA look past the Eagles to start the game?  Perhaps.  What’s more important is that they dealt with the problems and fixed them.  I’m sure a few people would have loved to hit the locker room at halftime.

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Akron Zips football: Slow start gives way to offensive avalanche in 31-6 win over Eastern Michigan

By George Thomas Published: October 4, 2014

The University of Akron’s hard-hitting defense created opportunities for its offense allowing the Akron Zips to walk away from Infocision Stadium with a 31-6 win against the Eastern Michigan Eagles to start Mid-American Conference play Saturday afternoon.

The defense, led by linebacker Jatavis Brown’s 12 tackles [including two for losses], held Eastern Michigan to 279 total yards with 94 coming on rushes.  Quarterback Kyle Pohl passed for 326 yards hitting 27-of-40 passes with two touchdowns, including a 31-yarder to receiver L.T. Smith, who caught 10 passes for 117 yards in the homecoming win.

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Akron Zips football: Five keys to beating Eastern Michigan

By George Thomas Published: October 3, 2014

The urge probably exists for the Akron Zips to chalk up Saturday’s game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles as an afternoon of practice.

Hopefully the coaching staff will not allow them to do that. No one can ever predict what is going to happen in any type of sporting event. The Eagles are coming off an embarrassing 73-14 loss to the Michigan State Spartans. 

When teams get beat that bad they have a tendency to come out of their corner like a rabid dog looking to take a bite out of anyone in their way.   Witness what the Zips did to Pitt after they lost to Marshall at Infocision a couple of weeks ago.  The keys to victory are light this week, but it’s what UA must do to come up with a Homecoming win:

Just play the game:  Yes, that’s simple, but it’s the truth.  No arrogance.  No cockiness.  Just go out and take care of business. Don’t get caught up in any extraneous garbage that happens after a play.  If they play the game correctly, they have an opportunity to build on last week’s win.

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Akron Zips football podcast: How they beat Pitt and looking ahead to Eastern Michigan

By Dan Kadar Published: October 1, 2014

Akron Zips beat writer George Thomas breaks down how the Zips upset Pittsburgh 21-10 in Week 5 of the college football season. He also previews the upcoming game against Eastern Michigan as the Zips begin Mid-American Conference play. Also, when should we expect to see Akron's shiny gold helmets again?

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