The University of Akron football team gave the impression Thursday that it can’t wait to get on the field at InfoCision Stadium for the annual Blue & Gold Spring Game on Saturday afternoon.
A couple of times defensive backs and wide receivers got into it after the play. It followed a familiar pattern from spring practice sessions. There has been tons of clashing among the titans on the line, but the defensive backs and wide receivers have done their share of getting after each other too.
The defensive backs could very well be becoming the complementary unit of a well-rounded defense.
There won’t be any way to tell for certain until the season begins, but so far the Zips have one lockdown corner in Malachi Freeman, who transferred to UA last year, and Medina’s Seth Cunningham.
“If you say there’s one corner that stands above,” Bowden said, “it’s Malachi because of his athletic ability and speed with some others showing they’re close by.”
One of those is Cunningham, a player who got some playing time last season, but not to the degree he has this spring.
“Seth Cunningham has stepped up and shown the maturity to play within his ability,” Bowden said.
What Bowden and the defensive staff would like to see from Cunningham, a Lakewood St. Edward graduate, is more consistency.
“Cunningham played a good bit, but got hurt and was inconsistent,” Bowden said. “He has the talent, the speed and the size.”
The coaches also like what they have seen of the safeties.
Bowden mentions senior Anthony Holmes, who has played well all spring, along with junior Bre Ford, who has stepped up for injured junior safety Johnny Robinson.
They like what they see, but Bowden said that the coaches have worked to curtail a trait that Holmes in particular has displayed.
“Anthony Holmes has done a lot less talking and jabbering and a lot more playing football,” Bowden said. “He’s really committed himself to not trash talking, but playing football. When you’re 1-11 three years in a row, trash talk is really phony. It’s arrogant, so we’ve told them let’s go out there and talk with our play.”
Wide receivers recover
Injuries slowed the progress of the wide receivers early in the spring but despite getting healthier lately, they have had trouble getting open with any consistency.
That criticism must have hit home because they caught their share of passes in Thursday’s practice.
Senior Jerrod Dillard turned a couple of short passes into decent gains with some good running after the catch and sophomore Andrew Pratt pulled in a 30-yard pass.
The entire offense produced at different times, a fact that could stem from some of the confrontations on display between the two units.
The University of Akron Athletics Department will hold a public forum at noon prior to Saturday’s spring game on the FirstMerit Foundation Club Level of InfoCision Stadium. Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill will discuss the future of sports at UA. … Today’s practice will be primarily organizational for the spring game. The first-team offense is scheduled to face the first-team defense and the subsequent units will match up with their counterparts.
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.