After being held hostage indoors at the Stile Athletics Field House by spring’s lingering chill, the University of Akron football team took the field at InfoCision Stadium for a Thursday morning practice session, which seemed to relieve coach Terry Bowden.
“We need to play outside because we play games outside,” Bowden said.
The controlled environment in the field house is nice, but the weather Thursday provided some things the team had yet to face this spring season — such as gusty winds. Despite temperatures hovering well into the 60s by 9:30 a.m., not all was pleasant because the wind gusted consistently, and occasionally with a kick.
“The wind affects throwing. It affects catching. It affects some things we have to be able to go through,” Bowden said. “I’m glad we were finally able to get outside, and we’ll spend as much time out here as we can the rest of the spring.”
The weather seemed to invigorate starting quarterback Kyle Pohl, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound redshirt sophomore, who looked crisp operating the offense. He threw the ball well, showed what he could do with his feet in designed run plays and generally kept his cool. Bowden said that he’s liked his decision-making and play-making abilities.
“I just think he was hot today and focused,” Bowden said. “For the drill work we did, they hadn’t seen any wind. The receivers weren’t adjusting. The quarterbacks weren’t allowing for it. When we got to scrimmage, it just seemed to all work.”
Apparently things are now working for redshirt freshman quarterback Dalton Easton, who is getting most of the work with the team’s second-unit offense.
“Dalton Easton is our backup right now. He made mistakes and we threw [Steve] Franco [another redshirt freshman] back in, and he went out and threw an interception,” Bowden said. “Right now I think we need to give Dalton Easton a lot of reps to see if we have a No. 2.”
Whether through a lack of experience or something else, one thing is clear to Bowden at this juncture: Neither Easton nor Franco is a threat to Pohl. And that is probably not an ideal situation. Whether different personnel might come in for this season to help bolster the experience at quarterback remains to be seen.
“It’s Kyle Pohl, I think, who must push himself because I don’t think he’s getting pushed,” Bowden said.
While the Zips’ offense showed potency at times last season, what it lacked in general was big-play capabilities. The primary reason that the offense showed some life Thursday came from the feet of sophomore running back Conor Hundley.
Hundley, a 5-foot-10, 215-pound runner from Cincinnati, took a handoff and bolted 55 yards for a touchdown.
“That sparked the offense because from that point forward, the offense made plays and, I thought, controlled the scrimmage. The defense had their way the past couple of weeks, but not so much today,” Bowden said.
Defensive end Albert Presley saw some action with the first team Thursday. He had been working with the second team because the coaching staff didn’t appreciate how he worked in the offseason training program. Bowden said he still has work to do.
“Preparing to win is much more important than wanting to win on the day we come out here and play,” he said.
Former UA and Walsh University coach Jim Dennison will be the lead speaker at Bowden’s coaches clinic April 26. Dennison, who coached the Zips from 1973-85, watched practice Thursday.
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.