The Akron Zips head into the 2015 season with high hopes. After a disappointing 5-7 finish a year ago, the program looks to rebound. Picked to finish second in the MAC East Division, the Zips certainly have a vote of confidence from those familiar with the league.
Offensive First Look
With the implementation of a new offense, Coach Terry Bowden opted for closed practices and should lean on an offensive line that returns three experienced starters. However, the team's leading rusher over the past four years, Jawon Chisholm must be replaced. Akron may very well look to two backs to carry the load. Conor Hundley possesses a slasher style and mentality while Colorado State transfer, Donnell Alexander, provides a the power running game. The two backs should compliment one another and see success by constantly moving the chains.
At quarterback, Kyle Pohl received no guarantee of starting after inconsistency set in but it's hard to ignore two-years of starting experience. He'll be the first quarterback out on the field for the Zips. The backup Tra'Von Chapman proved worthy when asked to run but must make better decisions when throwing the ball.
The Akron receivers possess talent but often fail to live up to expectations. Now with the top two receivers gone, Akron looks to a slew of others to provide down-field threats each week. The biggest piece of the puzzle may fall here as the defense led the conference in points allowed.
Defensive First Look
Unfortunately, losing two-of-three top tacklers leaves a huge void. Along the front seven, the Zips hope a few transfers from around the nation can sure up a defense that surrendered a mere 23.1 points per game a year ago. Daryl Monroe, a transfer from Washington State is expected to contribute as a linebacker in the fall.
The secondary must replace two starting safeties and their backups heading into 2015. Jerome Lane's progress continues as he develops and takes over at strong safety. For the free safety, Bryce Cheeks will be counted on. Cheeks moves over from the cornerback position as the Zips have those two spots on lock.
Turnovers go a long way, but Akron only produced 13 interceptions through the entire season while throwing 14. The margin needs to be in the positive and the progress of the safeties of utmost importance.