Coach Terry Bowden came out of the University of Akron’s spring practice knowing one thing: sophomore quarterback Kyle Pohl needed some help and competition.
That wasn’t an indictment of Pohl. Bowden, in his second year with the Zips, is very comfortable with Pohl running the offense.
Enter Nick Hirschman, a junior transfer from Colorado, who grew up in Saratoga, Calif., part of the Silicon Valley. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds with broad shoulders, Hirschman looks as if he could play linebacker.
His arrival means that Pohl will get the push he needs from someone with game experience. Hirschman started several games for the Buffaloes last season and came to UA with the opportunity to wrest that starting job away from Pohl.
“He’s a guy with experience. He’s a guy who’s been under the gun in a game situation,” Bowden said. “He brings a strong arm to our offense. Now he’s just got to quit thinking so much. He doesn’t know where to throw it yet in our system”
To help with that he has sought out the help of Dalton Williams, last year’s starter who is now working with the quarterbacks.
The Beacon Journal caught up with Hirschman after practice Saturday morning at InfoCision Stadium.
Q: What happened at Colorado?
A: I went through a process that I made a promise to myself that — I knew I was going to graduate; I had two years left — if I didn’t know it was going to be my home 100 percent then I was going to find a new one. Luckily, Akron took me in and I’ve got a good home now.
Q: Why didn’t it feel like home after three years?
A: It was different because a lot of my friends were so much older than me [and] graduated. It was my fourth coaching change in the last couple of years. It just didn’t feel right anymore.
Q: Why Akron?
A: It’s hard to find coaches who are as well known as Terry Bowden and the Bowden family name just has the pedigree of excellent football. He really sold me on this place. After him I got to meet coach [A.J.] Milwee. He’s a great guy. I thought I could learn a lot from the both of them offensively and grow as a player. That’s what drew me here.
Q: What type of offense did you run at Colorado. Was it a version of the spread?
A: I ran three different offenses at Colorado. My first year when the spread kind of got into vogue in college football, we adapted that my freshman year. My second year we were 100 percent pro-style offense. This year with the next coaching staff is going with more pistol spread oriented offense. I seemed to be able to find a niche in every one of those, so that’s why I was able to play and that’s why I was able to contribute to those teams. So this is a little different from what I’m used to, so now I’m just out here working out the kinks and getting better.
Q: What are your strengths as a quarterback?
A: I think I make good decisions, and that’s something that’s crucial in any offense no matter what kind of offensive scheme you’re playing.
Q: What about weaknesses?
A: You know weaknesses for me right now are getting in that playbook and just making sure I’ve got these new plays down pat.
Q: You’re spending time picking Dalton’s brain?
A: It’s someone a little closer to your age who can relate things because he’s played in the system.
Q: Your family owns a winery (and entertainment complex), I’m told. Where?
A: Saratoga, Calif. We’re very fortunate. My parents worked very hard to be able to get that.
Q: That something you see yourself getting involved in when football is over for you?
A: I haven’t thought that far down the road at this point. I’m focused more on football right now.
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.