Akron scares Michigan at Ann Arbor

By Matthew Balsinger, Managing Editor

No one in the country expected a shootout between the Zips and the University of Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, but that is exactly what the nation got.

Despite a heartbreaking loss when the Zips legitimately had a chance to defeat the nation’s No. 11 ranked team, the team saw marked improvement from the previous weeks. In a sense, the Zips that played at the Big House were a completely different team.


Last week, The Buchtelite was extremely critical of the offensive in our analysis of the victory over James Madison University. There were various problems, from the offensive line and the running game, to the lackluster quarterback play and potential for a quarterback controversy.

After the Zips’ performance against the Wolverines, each one of these criticisms has been addressed.

The first, and most obvious, improvement of the offense was in the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback Kyle Pohl. After a nearly equal performance by Pohl and backup quarterback Nick Hirschman, there appeared to be a potential controversy on who should be the starter.

Pohl ended any discussion of a controversy by out-playing Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner. Pohl completed 25-49 attempts for 311 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The greatest improvement of Pohl’s was comfort in the pocket and the ability to run Bowden’s spread offense effectively.

The offensive line also showed marked improvement by controlling the trenches for running backs Jawon Chisholm and Conor Hundley, who gained a combined 96 yards on the ground. Most importantly, the offensive line protected the passing game, allowing no sacks.

Turnovers are still a concern for the offense; the game’s two interceptions were at crucial moments. The first seeded Michigan with good field position, the second was in the end zone after an impressive drive down the field. If the Zips intend to be competitive in conference play they will have to continue to win the turnover battle as well as limit costly turnovers.


The defense remains the most crucial part of the Zips’ game. Throughout the first three games of the season, the defense has continued to improve, showing its best potential against the Wolverines.

Junior linebacker C.J. Mizell had the game’s lone sack, taking down Gardner for a 10-yard loss. Mizell continues to show true star potential, as he was the Zips’ second lead tackler in the game. The lead tackler in the game was junior cornerback Malachi Freeman who had a combined seven tackles.

Junior linebacker Justin March, however, should be considered the Zips’ most valuable defensive player in this game. March accumulated four tackles, one for a loss, and two interceptions in the game. He returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown.

It’s difficult to criticize a unit that held the country’s No. 11 ranked team to 28 points and forcing four turnovers, but they need to show the ability to play consistently. The Zips regularly gave up big running games and big passing plays. The Zips will need to tighten the pass coverage if they intend to upend the Mid-American Conference this season.

The biggest question for the Zips is whether they will be able to translate the continued success seen through three games to conference play. The Zips will need to prevent themselves from getting down about the close loss. Instead the Zips must continue to stay focused and look to winning games in the conference.

If the Zips continue to play like they did on Saturday, with the same poise and confidence in their own abilities, a trip to Detroit in December for the MAC championship game will be a very real possibility.

The Zips’ next game will be at Infocision Stadium this Saturday at 6 p.m., where they will take on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are currently sitting at 1-2 on the season and will wrap up their out of conference play against the Zips. Their two losses come from the University of Arkansas and Kansas State University, both FBS teams, while their lone win was against Nicholls State University, an FCS team.

For more in-depth analysis of the upcoming game, look to The Buchtelite this Thursday for a breakdown of the game’s key matchups.
All images courtesy of Eric Upchurch, MGoBlog.com.