A post inspired but FalconBlog's weekly 25 questions.
The zips are moving forward from a facility point of view, and in other athletic programs (most notably soccer) but the football team is in the middle of a very disappointing season. While the stadium is new, the losing is not. In the three seasons since they have won the championship the Zips have been steadily marching backwards. For a time last season they seemed to have a nice shot at the East but fell apart in the last quarter of the year.
Season High Point:
Beating up on Morgan State in their home opener, it was the last game before Chris Jacquemain was kicked off the team for still unspecified reasons and the zips have been weathering nothing but bad news since then.
Season Low Point:
This past weeks loss to Ohio, their first division game and a game they easily could have won. Turnovers and sloppy play erased a 50 yard advantage. To top it all off they lost their second string quarterback and now have a true freshman taking the reins.
Do they take care of the Ball?
Not much better than Buffalo, they have eleven on the year and five against Ohio cost them a game that they should have won. Their main problem has been with interceptions something that Patrick Nicely has yet to do.
How is their Passing Offense?
If you can take Deryn Bowser out of the Game the zips have little in they way of a serious receiving threat. Their Quarterback was a respectably targeted three star recruit last year who looked good in the second half against Ohio.
How is their Rushing Offense?
If you're going to worry, worry about the quarterback. Rodgers (QB against Indiana, CMU, and Ohio) was the teams leading rusher. Patrick Nicely only carried the ball twice times but managed runs of 16 and nine yards in those two carries.
How are their receivers?
As I said above the key is Deryn Bowser. Nobody else has a touchdown reception and he has as many yards as their number two and number three receivers put together. Akron does not make good use of half backs or tight ends in the passing game.
How about their offensive line?
Not playing to their potential, they are giving up nearly three sacks a game, are running for less than 3.5 a carry. A true freshman quarterback is going to need more time than this line has been giving people.
Are they High Powered?
No, they can put points up (21 on CMU, 21 on IU) but usually when they score they take their time about it (6 plays to go 30 yard for their only TD against Ohio). Bowser always has the potential to take one long but it has not happened much this year.
How Well do they convert on 3rd?
35% of the time puts them in the bottom third of all FBS teams.
Can their offense close a drive?
Aside from Morgan State they have had trouble scoring inside the 20, most noticeably against Ohio where in the first half two trips close to or inside the 20 yielded zero points.
How Good is their defense?
Not bad considering their level of competition, the cupcake on their schedule (Morgan State) they is easily offset by Penn State, leaving IU(3-3), CMU(5-1), and Ohio (4-2). So far with this respectable schedule they have the sixth best defense in the conference.
Do they take the Ball Away?
Yes, 10 on the year is pretty impressive and they have thrived against the pass where they are pulling in more than one pick per game (one in every game and two against Morgan state).
Can they stop the Run?
No, they are giving up more than 160 a game, there is a chance for Ike to extend his 100 game run to three games this week.
Can they stop the Pass?
Yes, they are keeping teams under 200 yards a game and, as mentioned above, they are good for a pick a game on defense. Red shirt sophomore linebacker Brian Wagner is very good covering the pass, leading his team with two interceptions.
How do they perform on third downs?
Terrible, they are giving up nearly 50% on third downs, though they held Ohio to a respectable 33%.
How is their red zone defense?
4.4 points per trip is pretty good for a red zone defense. UB has struggled in punching the ball in when they get close and going against Akron will not provide any kind of relief.
How well do they get after the QB?
Not well at all, they have only two on the year (one of those going to Wagner)
Do they get after you in the backfield?
Again, not very well (but better than Buffalo). They are getting in the backfield about four times a game. Aaron Williams was doing the lions share of the damage but he has been out for several weeks due to injury. Since Williams has been out tackles for a loss are seriously down.
How is their return game?
Jeremy Bruce is a reasonably dangerous punt returner, but as a whole their punt and kick return games are not especially worrisome... Well except for the fact UB's coverage has been very, very suspect. If the Bulls stick to their lanes and don't over pursue they should keep the zips return teams contained.
How well do they defend returns?
Akron is a middle of the road team in return defense on both kickoffs and punts in terms of yardage but both units have given up a touchdown.
How well do they Kick?
Terrible, and that means something, I have watched every UB game this year and I still would not trade kickers. Akron is an embarrassing 2/7 on field goals (though they are 12 for 12 on extra points)
How Well do they Punt?
Respectable, a net average of 35 yards says decent things about both the punter and the coverage team.
How does Akron do at Buffalo?
Akron beat Buffalo eight strait times after UB joined the MAC (four in Buffalo and four in Akron). Turner Gill is 2-1 against the Zips winning the past two games including last years overtime thriller.
How Big is this game for Each Team?
Both teams are in the same spot, winless in the conference and looking up at Temple (who beat Buffalo) and Ohio (who beat Akron). The loser of this game can, more or less, kiss the division goodbye.