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Akron Zips Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Air Force season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Akron Zips Preview
Head Coach: Joe Moorhead, 1st year at Akron
7th year overall, 52-25
2021 Record: Overall: 2-10, Conference: 1-7
Previews 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Akron Top 10 Players | Akron Schedule & Analysis
Akron Zips Preview 2022
It’s been a rough run for the Akron program. The last winning season was 2015, the last bowl appearance was 2017, and the fans enjoyed a grand total of three wins over the last three years – two of them against Bowling Green.
But the program got a good one in new head coach Joe Moorhead. He rocked in four years at Fordham, was great as the offensive coordinator at Penn State, and he was fine Mississippi State for two years before getting shoved out. The guy knows offense – he handled the Oregon attack over the last few years – and now he has to work minor miracles to get the up-tempo attack going.
Akron Zips Preview 2022: Offense
The coaching will be better and the system should be stronger, but the offensive playmakers have to emerge. None of that matters if the offensive line isn’t far, far better after finishing last in the nation in sacks allowed, and without much of a running game to count on. For good and for bad, just two steady starters return to the front around veteran LT Xavior Gray.
Now the running attack has to follow. Minnesota transfer Cam Wiley was a great get to help bump up the production along with leading rusher Jonzell Norrils. The Zips only ran for 1,463 yards and eight scores – that’s about to change.
Zach Gibson took over the quarterback duties last year, but now he’s off to Georgia Tech. DJ Irons is a very big, very interesting quarterback who wasn’t all that bad before getting banged up. He’s a potential playmaker to work around, but leading receiver Konata Mumpfield is gone to Pitt and second-leading target Michael Mathison is done, too.
There are parts around TE Tristian Bank including LSU transfer Alex Adams – the system will make the receivers shine.
Akron Zips Preview 2022: Defense
The D might take a little while longer to get going than the offense. The Zips didn’t do much on the offensive side, and they really didn’t do much for long stretches defensively. There wasn’t enough of a pass rush and the run defense was among the worst in the nation.
On the plus side, the Zips are loaded with veteran tacklers. Jeslord Boateng leads the a good-sized linebacking corps with a decent number of options. The hitters are there, but the pass rush has to come from some where – Boateng and two others tied for the team lead with 1.5 sacks. There’s just enough bulk to work in a good rotation on the nose.
There’s a good chance the secondary is among the team’s biggest strengths if it gets any help from the pass rush. Senior Charles Amankwaa led the team with three picks, Jaylen Kelly-Powell is a good hitter with 73 tackles last season, and there’s enough versatility to play around with the options.
Akron Zips: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT
Akron Zips: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
Akron Zips: Key To The 2022 Offense
Joe Moorhead is a strong offensive head coach, there are some nice parts at the skill spots if DJ Irons can emerge. None of it matters if the offensive line can’t block anyone. It allowed a whopping 63 sacks last season and gave up close to five per game over the last three years. Quick-hitting throws will help, but the line just has to be better.
Akron Zips: Key To The 2022 Defense
Get off the field
The Zips were second-worst in the nation in third down stops. That was a function of several problems. There wasn’t enough of a pass rush, teams were too good on first downs, and there just weren’t enough big plays when it mattered.
Akron’s defense allowed teams to convert just 37% of their third down tries in 2018. It’s allowed close to 53% since then.
Akron Zips: Key Player To The 2022 Season
QB DJ Irons, Jr.
The 6-6, 215-pound veteran has a good running back to hand off to in Cam Wiley, the receivers should be fine, and the line at least has experience. Now it’s his job to make the quick O go with good decision making and plays with his legs as well as his arm on third down. If the offseason was any indication, he’s ready to step up.
Akron Zips: Key Transfer
RB Cam Wiley, Sophomore
The Zips are bringing in a ton of transfers to sprinkle across the positions – the receivers and defensive backs are getting the most help – but the 6-2, 185-pound Wiley should be the instant boost for the ground game. It was hard to get much work in the Minnesota backfield, but now the all-around speedster will be used in a variety of ways.
Akron Zips Key Game To The 2022 Season
at Ohio, October 8
The Zips will beat Saint Francis to start the season, they should beat Bowling Green at home, and they’ll almost certainly get rocked by Michigan State, Tennessee, and Liberty on the road for a 2-3 start. After that is a road game at Ohio.
There’s been just one win over the Bobcats since 2007, and this year’s version is a measuring stick for where the program is under Joe Moorhead at the midseason.
Akron Zips: 2021 Fun Stats
– Red Zone Scores: Opponents 48-of-51 (94%) – Akron 25-of-36 (69%)
– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 177 – Akron 65
– Sacks: Opponents 64 for 357 yards – Akron 15 for 133 yards
Akron Zips Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT
Akron Zips Season Prediction, What Will Happen
The coaching change should work wonders.
The Zips got better in a hurry through the transfer portal, there are some nice veteran pieces in place, and Joe Moorhead should take the attack from 0 to 60 – okay, maybe 35 – as the Zips start be more competitive and far more dangerous.
Don’t assume a turnaround into a MAC Championship quite yet, but there should be an upset or two to be far more interesting.
Set The Akron Zips Regular Season Win Total At … 3.5
The Zips have to beat Saint Francis and Bowling Green, and then it’s time to pull off something big. No, not winning at Tennessee, but maybe catch Eastern Michigan in early November or pull off a big performance at Buffalo or Ohio.
For a program that hasn’t known any semblance of fun over the last few years, getting to at least four wins would be a great run.