Akron's air attack to challege Ohio's depleted secondary
Zips average 463 yards of offense per game
By Lonnie McMillan / Contributor
Thursday, October 11, 2012
ATHENS, Ohio – Akron has not defeated an FBS team in two years, but an explosive offense has given the Zips hope that things are changing.
The Zips (1-5, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) last beat an FBS team Nov. 28, 2010 against Buffalo, losing 16 straight since then, but Akron is averaging 463.0 yards of offense this season.
Quarterback Dalton Williams leads Akron’s pass-first offense, having completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,907 yards and 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Marquelo Suel is Williams’ main target with 43 catches for 478 yards and four touchdowns. L.T. Smith has made 28 grabs for 251 yards, while Dee Frieson has caught 25 balls for 180 yards.
“I think they throw, and set up the running game,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “You can’t forget about the running game. (Williams is) a guy who’s going to drop back, going to throw. He’s not a guy they’re going to design running plays off of necessarily. But they do have a running attack that’s dangerous.”
Jawon Chisholm has provided Akron with an adequate running game when called upon. He has rushed for 498 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt. He has 256 yards in two league games.
“In the MAC, in the two games that they’ve played, Jawon has averaged I think 6.9 yards a carry — their starting running back,” Solich said. “I think it’s somewhere around 120-some yards a game in the two MAC games that they’ve played. Even though they’re getting all these yards and putting points on the board, scoring touchdowns through the air, the run game will also be a crucial part of it for us to attempt to stop.”
Ohio’s defense ranks third in the MAC in points allowed (22.8) and yards allowed (383.7). However, the Bobcats, with a beat-up secondary, have been vulnerable against the pass, allowing 253.2 yards per game through the air.
Only a few plays into the season, the Bobcats had lost starting cornerbacks Travis Carrie and Jamil Shaw for the season. Safety Xavier Hughes suffered a long-term injury and Gerald Moore missed last week’s victory against Buffalo and is questionable this week.
“I have to give our players credit and those guys who have filled in and played without a lot of playing experience and done remarkably well,” Solich said. “And complement our coaches and how they’ve recruited to get our program where it’s at with depth.”
The Bobcats also played last week without starting defensive linemen Carl Jones and Tremayne Scott, but Jones is expected to start against the Zips.
Middle linebacker Keith Moore leads the Bobcats with 52 tackles. Defensive tackle Corey Hasting has 31, including a team-best 1.5 sacks. Ohio has forced 16 turnovers.
Akron’s defense has struggled, giving up 472.8 yards and 38.3 points per game. The Zips have forced only eight turnovers.
Linebacker Kurt Mangum has 46 tackles for Akron, while Troy Gilmer has 37. J.D. Griggs has racked up 4.5 sacks among his eight tackles for loss.
Running back Beau Blankenship leads Ohio’s offense with 843 yards and six rushing touchdowns, but he was held to less than 100 yards on the ground for the first time this season last week.
Quarterback Tyler Tettleton missed one game but has played the last two weeks, although he has not been the running threat he normally is. Tettleton has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception.
Offensively, Ohio’s pass catchers have been most affected by injuries, most recently with the season loss of tight end Jordan Thompson. Leading receiver Donte Foster (22 catches for 243 yards) missed last week, but returned to practice this week, as did Ryan Clark (12 catches for 15 yards). Tyler Futrell and Landon Smith both have missed a pair of games, but have returned to action.
The Zips and Bobcats kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday in Ohio’s homecoming game, which can be seen on ESPN3.