Zips football hosts 23rd-ranked Western Michigan

By Jake Allen, Sports Editor

The University of Akron football team will host the 23rd-ranked Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field.

Western Michigan has been very impressive this season, as they have beaten Big Ten teams Illinois and Northwestern, while also dominating MAC schools Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.

Offensively the Broncos are dominant, ranking sixth in the NCAA in points-per-game with 44.8 and 15th in rushing yards-per-game with 246.8.

The Broncos have been impressive both passing the ball and running it. Quarterback Zach Terrell has been nearly perfect, passing for 1,390 yards on 70.6 percent completion percentage, with 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Terrell can also run, having gained 108 yards with three additional scores.

Western Michigan boasts a pair of impressive running backs as well, using a “smash and dash” combination. First, 228-pound junior Jarvion Franklin has rushed for 514 yards on 102 carries. Then speedy 5”7’ sophomore Jamauri Bogan has sprinted his way to 530 yards on 90 carries. Each player has scored five touchdowns on the year.

As if the Broncos offense wasn’t lethal enough, they also possess one of the premier wide receivers in the nation. Six-foot-three senior Corey Davis has already caught 36 passes for 589 yards with eight touchdowns this season. Davis has eclipsed 1,400 receiving yards in a season twice during his career, and has amassed 41 total touchdowns for the Broncos. Expect to see Davis playing on Sundays in fall 2017.

The Zips will have to bring everything they have on defense to stop the Broncos, and they will also need to do the same on offense. This could be very difficult with the injuries that are facing Akron. The Zips could be without starting quarterback Thomas Woodson, running back Warren Ball, and top wide receiver Jojo Natson on Saturday.

If Woodson can’t play, it will be up to Tra’von Chapman to lead the offense for the third straight week. Chapman has combined for 583 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season, but will be facing his toughest competition to date.

The Zips have been without Ball since he was injured in the game at Wisconsin on Sept. 10, and Manny Morgan and Van Edwards have split the duties in his absence. Morgan has 249 yards while Edwards has rushed for 182 yards on the year. Each player has averaged at least five yards per carry.

Akron’s leading receiver Jojo Natson was injured during the Zips last game versus Miami and did not return. Natson’s speed will certainly be missed if he can’t play. Expect A.J. Coney to take his place in the slot while Jerome Lane and Austin Wolf line-up outside. Coney would also be expected to return punts in Natson’s absence.

The Zips definitely hope these three key players can play on Saturday, but the coaching staff has complete confidence in whoever is on the field, as the Zips have worked through injuries all season.

The Zips will travel to Muncie, Indiana, and Buffalo, New York after this weekend, but will need to remain focused on defending their home turf against the 23rd-ranked Broncos.