The great silence heard by the University of Akron fans Saturday from the Zips’ offense wasn’t an alarm. But it might be the stark reality for this season.
Northern Illinois handled the Zips offense to the tune of a 38-7 thrashing Saturday at InfoCision Stadium. NIU came prepared to shut down quarterback Dalton Williams and his receivers.
UA (1-7, 0-4) was held to 199 yards of total offense on 66 plays, and Williams to just 157 yards passing on 15-of-29 plays.
The Zips could not move the ball on their first six drives Saturday. The Huskies had a plan.
“A good team is going to say we have better personnel,” Zips coach Terry Bowden said. “We’re going to match up man-to-man and contest every throw. If you’re not good and you try to do that, guys can run away from you and get easy scores because everyone has their backs to the ball.”
Despite the numbers, Bowden isn’t going to blame Williams, and he probably shouldn’t, given that NIU’s defense stifled the running game, allowing just 42 yards. Bowden’s spread offense is passing heavy, but without any semblance of a rushing attack, it’s not close to effective.
Williams contended that the receivers got very little in the way of separations from defensive backs who were so close they could read their opponents’ T-shirt sizes. The room for success in that situation proved slim, at best, Bowden said.
“I don’t think he had many decisions that he could make differently. The first five series, I want to say we were in third-and-12 [situations],” Bowden said of Williams. “You can’t do anything with that. He was making pretty good decisions; he has to be super accurate. We have to give him a little bit more protection. It was some of everybody on Saturday.”
What’s the key?
The Zips have found their running back in Jawon Chisholm, but they are still missing a playmaker at receiver.
“We have a bunch of really good ones,” Bowden said. “You need a game breaker, a guy that cannot be covered; one guy. You have to have one of those. One guy who can beat you deep.”
The Zips travel to Central Michigan to face the Chippewas (2-5) who, like the Zips, will be in search of their first conference victory. ... Chisholm was getting treatment on his injured hand and shoulder Monday morning. … One of his backups, Quentin Hines, walked around practice in sweats. … Right tackle Adam Bice should be ready to play. … Bowden said the defensive coaching staff was going to work defensive tackle Nico Caponi, recovering from a high ankle sprain, hard to see if he’s ready to go against the Chippewas.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.