University of Akron football coach Terry Bowden and his defensive line coach Todd Stroud respond in like terms when asked about the defensive line situation.
They’ll be able to put four linemen on the field, but depth will likely be an issue for UA most of the season.
“We have to find four who can line up and play, defensive ends who can run up the field and rush, defensive tackles and nose guards who can hold up to a heavy run [game],” Bowden said after Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “We don’t have a lot of numbers there.”
Stroud is a bit more optimistic about the team’s defensive ends.
“I feel real comfortable with [Alfonso] Horner providing us some depth at defensive end, but our depth inside at tackle is not where we want it, by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
It has gotten better since the spring game with the return of Nick Caponi, a junior from Sandusky who played in his freshman and sophomore years.
“We felt like after watching some tape last year that he was a guy who will definitely help. He just had a great summer from a physical standpoint,” Stroud said.
Caponi has packed on some muscle in the weight room and is exhibiting signs of being able to plow through offensive linemen during drills. Bowden loves his toughness and the fact that he is a gym rat. Given that he’s making the move to the interior of the line, those factors can only help.
Giving Caponi, who played in 10 games last year, some help on the inside will be senior J.D. Griggs, but beyond that, Stroud realizes it’s going to be tough on his line.
“We’re going to have to be creative and play some ends at tackle and keep people rotating in to keep fresh legs in there,” he said.
Running back Hakeem Lawrence, who rushed for more than 1,800 yards last season at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Florida last season, received clearance from the NCAA to play.
He, like all players, will have to undergo a five-day acclimation period.
DeAndre Scott, freshman cornerback from Frederick, Md., rejoined the team Wednesday. Scott, who enrolled early and participated in spring practice, was a conspicuous no-show last week when the Zips opened camp. At the time, Bowden said that he wanted to play Division II football with his brother.
Apparently, things have changed.
“I think his parents got to him and talked to him a little stronger about the opportunity that he was missing,” Bowden said. “He’s young. It’s his freshman year and I don’t think he understood all of the ramifications. I’ve had a lot of guys come into my office crying homesick and that they miss their mamas and they ended up in the NFL.”
A lightning storm delayed Wednesday’s practice by about a half an hour Wednesday, a fact that didn’t sit too well with a lot of players. When practice resumed and lightning made an appearance later, some of them whispered “shhhh” hoping that the operations person who makes the call whether to continue practice didn’t see it.
A sign of dedication? Sure thing. Of course, the players might have suffered from temporary insanity as well.
The Zips will go to two-a-day sessions beginning with a practice this morning and one in the evening. Per NCAA rules, they won’t be allowed to have two-a-days on consecutive days.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. 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.