Defense Is the Key to the Akron Zips' 2013 Season

By Joseph Lisi
Terry Bowden

The 2012 season saw the Akron Zips make huge strides toward success in Terry Bowden‘s first season as head coach. Bowden inherited a team that went 1-11 in the 2011 season and lost by an average of 28 points per game. In 2012, the Zips lost six games by 47 points (7.8 point per game) and played teams like Tennessee, Ohio, Kent State, and Toledo very tough on the road. Offensively, the team averaged 26.1 points per game and featured an up tempo attack that brought life back to the fan base and created optimism with their wide open style of play.

Defensively in 2012, the Zips lacked the depth to win games. They surrendered 35.7 points per game and were -14 in turnover margin. The Zips surrendered 30 TD passes in 2012, the most in the MAC Conference. That was then and this is now; it is 2013 and there is reason for optimism if you are a Zip fan. However, in order for the Zips to take the next step in the rebuilding process, the defense must build on the experience gained in last year’s games.

Entering 2013, seven starters return and the team consists of mostly juniors and seniors. The defensive line will be the strength of the team. Players like  Colorado State transfer CJ James, Alfonso Horner, Albert Pressley and Jamel Turner have speed off the edge to create problems for opponents. Defensive tackles Nico Caponi and Cody Grice will force double teams from opposing offensive lines with their athleticism. The Zips only had 16 sacks as a defensive unit last season and failed to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but that number should grow in 2013. The linebackers received a boost by Washington State transfer CJ Mizell, who has great size at 6-foot-2 235 pounds. The secondary will have experience with  returning starters Anthony Holmes ,Malachi Freeman, and Donte Williams. The  experience gained last season will give the defense to the ability play more man to man coverage and allow defensive coordinator  Chuck Amato to be aggressive with his play calling. Look for the Zips to use more blitz packages and create multiple looks for opposing teams. This will help the defense create turnovers and turn last year’s close losses into victories in 2013.

Akron opens their season Thursday night August 29 at Central Florida.

Joseph Lisi is a MAC Writer for, Follow him on Twitter @GoForthe2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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