After a tough 2012 season, Akron football coach Terry Bowden hopes to build a strong 2013 season on the experience his young squad brings to the field.
Eighteen months ago, Terry Bowden arrived in Akron with a vision. He planned to resuscitate the University of Akron football program amid great expectations from fans and alumni.
The result was a 1-11 season.
While Zips competed better and stayed in games longer, they faltered in the final minutes. Bowden hopes to change that. Experience gained by his underclassmen will be key to a winning season in 2013.
“There’s an old saying that when you come into a program, the most progress is made between year one and year two as the players learn the system,” Bowden said. “The freshmen, a lot of them didn’t play because they were ready, but they played because we needed them and that will give us a little more depth and maturity.”
The Zips return 14 starters, seven on each side of the ball.
Three starters return to the offensive line and three top rushers return. Junior Jawon Chisholm (953 yards, 5 TD) will anchor the backfield for the Zips. He is in better shape than last season and arrived in camp about 10 pounds lighter at 195.
Sophomore Kyle Pohl will be starting quarterback after seeing modest playing time behind senior transfer Dalton Williams last season. Pohl, though, is competing for time with BCS-conference transfer Nick Hirschman.
Hirschman, a Colorado transfer completed his undergraduate degree early and took advantage of an NCAA rule that allows for transfer to another Division I school to play immediately.
At 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, respectively, Pohl and Hirschman give the Zips size under center. With UA throwing more than 43 passes per game last season, size and durability will be huge for the new signal callers.
“Kyle Pohl got a lot of work,” Bowden said. “… He is a very mature redshirt sophomore and he is our leader and our No. 1 quarterback.”
The defense, under second-year coordinator Chuck Amato, also has work to do. The unit surrendered 35.7 points per game last season. As a group, the defense forced just 13 turnovers in 2012 and Amato hopes to bring more pressure in 2013.
Veteran players on both sides of the ball will be instrumental as Akron brings in just 18 players in this year’s recruiting class.
Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB