The 2013 Akron Zips football team is better this year than in previous years. Their performance on the field indicates that they are more organized, talented and driven. One of the major turnarounds is the play of the defensive and offensive line.
Defensively, the Akron Zips’ line has been overwhelming. According to mac-sports.com, they are currently second in the Mid-American Conference in total sacks. Akron’s C.J. James is second in the conference in most sacks per game with four total sacks. Nico Caponi is tied for third in the league with three sacks and teammate Nordly Capi is tied for 10th with two.
James is a senior who transferred to Akron from Colorado State. There was a little excitement when it was announced that he was coming to UA, but not many felt that he would make the impact that he has. James is currently fourth in forced fumbles with two and seventh in tackles for loss with six.
Along with causing havoc in the backfield, Akron’s defense is ranked fifth in rushing defense. Though linebackers have played a role, the defensive line has stepped up and made it tough for their opponents to establish the stability that a run game can have.
The Akron defensive line has been ferocious. Many felt going into the season that Akron’s defense was not going to be able to compete at a high level. They have proven critics wrong. Though they are not the best defense, they are only ranked ninth in total defense so far this season; they have come up big in key situations of the game.
One of Akron’s greatest weaknesses has been their offensive line. In 2010, Akron’s then-quarterback Patrick Nicely found himself ducking and dodging defenders throughout the entire game. Current quarterback Kyle Pohl does not have that worry.
UA’s quarterbacks have only been sacked five times this season. The offensive line has allowed their quarterbacks to sit in the pocket and find an open man. Pohl is averaging over six yards a completion so far this year, and a lot of credit should go to the offensive line for that.
Akron’s run game has never been bad. Running back Jawon Chisholm has always been seen as one of the better backs in the conference. This season is much of the same.
However, the offensive line has not clinched the confidence of the coaching staff just yet. On a third and goal on the goal line against Michigan, Akron needed only inches to secure a win. The team elected to try to run to the sideline instead of downfield to achieve this. The same happened against Bowling Green. Akron was down by 10 and on the half-yard line. Instead of playing power football, running the ball right at the defense in the attempt to score, they went for a field goal.
Regardless, both the offensive and defensive lines have improved over the last three years. And they have contributed throughout the 2013 season.