2014 Akron Preview: What You Need To Know
Akron QB Kyle Pohl
Akron QB Kyle Pohl
Posted Jul 6, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Akron (Getty Images)

2014 Akron Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Akron Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: The passing game that was so dangerous in 2012 with Dalton Williams under center struggled to find its footing last season, and it showed overall as the offense couldn't find anything that consistently worked. Jawon Chisholm is a nice back to utilize, but he needs his line to be far better at generating a push. That could be an issue with just two starters back up front, but QB Kyle Pohl is back for another year after showing some good signs and having a few excellent moments, and he has a veteran receiving corps to work with. Overall the explosiveness needs to be there to stretch the field a bit, and the O has to start doing a better job of moving the chains. After scoring more than 24 points just three times, the Zips have to do just a wee bit more to get over the hump – bumping up the overall yardage to around 400 a game could make all the difference.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: Considering the offense didn't provide nearly enough help on a weekly basis, the defense wasn't all that bad. There were times when the Zips weren't even close to coming up with a key stop, but they didn't have problems with the bottom-feeders on the schedule with a decent run defense and good enough pass rush to get by. The big concerns are in a secondary that's in a state of flux going into the season, but there's hope up front to get into the backfield and help the cause with more pressure. Jatavis Brown and Justin March bring a serious 1-2 linebacking punch, while Nordly Capi could be fantastic at getting to the quarterback if he can regain his Colorado State form. The D has to be more disruptive and it has to do a better job of coming up with a curveball when things aren't going well – the takeaways have to start coming against the better offenses.  

Players You Need To Know

1. LB Jatavis Brown, Jr.
The Florida native isn't all that big, but he's a fantastic hitter with excellent range and a good burst into the backfield. He might only be 5-11 and 212 pounds, but he holds up well on the weakside leading the team with 107 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in an all-star campaign. Unbelievable over the second half of the season, he made 12 tackles or more in five of the final six games including 15 against both Northern Illinois and Toledo and 16 against Ball State. He's a bit hitter.

2. RB Jawon Chisholm, Sr.
The passing game was the main mode of transportation a few years ago, but Chisholm still came up with 953 yards. Last year the running game became more important, and while he ran for 869 yards, he came up with eight scores and finished third on the team with 27 catches for 211 yards and a score. The 6-1, 206-pounder has a nice blend of power and speed, more slippery than fast. He only ran for 100 yards twice, but they came in back-to-back games rumbling for 166 yards against Ball State and 151 against Kent State. The coaching staff will lean on him even more.

3. LB Justin March, Sr.
The longtime veteran is great on the inside able to play in the middle or on the strongside. At 6-0 and 222 pounds he's not huge, but he knows what he's doing and he makes plays, taking an interception for a score and finishing second on the team with 80 tackles with a sack and tying for the team lead with three picks. While he's not used too much as a pass rusher, he comes up with stops against the run and can pop.

4. WR Zach D'Orazio, Jr.
The Zips needed a go-to target, and D'Orazio became one at times leading the team with 42 catches for 567 yards and four scores. At 6-2 and 213 pounds he's built well and has terrific speed and toughness. A bit of a surprise, he showed good upside and this year should be even more reliable on short-range plays, and he'll also hit the home run from time to time. The skills are there to become an All-MAC playmaker.

5. QB Kyle Pohl, Jr.
It was his job to step in for bomber Dalton Williams, and while he wasn't the passer his predecessor was, he still completing 56% of his passes for 2,438 yards and 14 touchdowns with ten picks and ran for 96 yards and three scores. The junior has good 6-3, 213-pound size and he has pure passing skills that could shine through now that he has a year of experience. A good athlete, he can move a bit, but his job will be to throw and throw some more. He wasn't consistent early, but he scared Michigan with 311 yards and hit the 200-yard mark in five of the final six games. Don't be shocked if he turns into a 3,000-yard passer.

6. NG Cody Grice, Jr.
The line needs an anchor, and Grice grew into more of one. Quick off the ball on the nose, he made 7.5 tackles for loss in his first year and followed it up with 32 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. The former fullback proved he could handle himself inside a long time ago, he might not have the ideal bulk at 5-11 and 283 pounds, but he's great against the run.

7. DE Nordly Capi, Sr.
A breakout superstar at Colorado State, he came up with a brilliant 2011 season making ten sacks, forcing seven fumbles and coming up with 34 tackles turning into an All-American. But the Florida native was kicked off the team after a fight, and he ended up sitting out a year before being in the mix at Akron. On the field, the 6-3, 249-pounder has great athleticism and quickness, but he was a bit rusty last season making 31 tackles with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. However, with his skills and closing ability, he could be in for a breakout year at one end.

8. P Zach Paul, Jr.
Not bad two years ago, he averaged close to 41 yards per kick and put 18 inside the 20, but last season he showed off more of a leg averaging 43 yards per pop with 17 put inside the 20. Even better, he did a great job of working with his coverage team forcing 22 fair catches and did more to blast the team out of jams. Solid and consistent, now he's growing into more of a weapon.

9. WR Fransohn Bickley, Soph.
Really small but really quick, the 5-6, 138-pound sophomore wasn't as good as he should've been as a kickoff returner – averaging 16.6 yards per try – but he showed promise as a receiver finishing second on the team with 39 catches for 407 yards and two scores. With next-level wheels, he's tough to catch in the open field, but he didn't make enough big plays. That might change this year now that he knows what he's doing – he'll be a jack-of-all-trades.

10. FB Conor Hundley, Jr.
At 5-10 and 216 pounds he's built more like a big running back than a true fullback, but he's a strong blocker for the ground game and a tough runner finishing second on the team with 425 yards. With his build and his physical style, he needs to be more of a short-yardage runner and a goal line back – he didn't score last season – and he has the hands to do more as a receiver after catching eight passes for 16 yards.

- 2014 Akron Preview