UA gears up for FIU this Saturday

By: DJ Johnson

The University of Akron football team will look for win number two this Saturday as they welcome Florida International to InfoCision Stadium.

The 2 p.m. kickoff on Homecoming weekend will pin FIU (3-2, 1-1 Sun Belt) against the Zips (1-4, 0-2 MAC), who will be playing in their final non-conference game of the season.

“It’s a great game for both conferences,” said Akron Head Coach Rob Ianello. “There is certainly a lot of conference pride between the Sun Belt and the Mid-American Conference in these types of games.”

The Panthers come into the game off a two-game skid, losses to Louisiana-Lafayette and Duke, after winning their first three games of the season.

Akron is coming off a 31-23 back-and-forth loss to Eastern Michigan last Saturday, after picking up their only win two weeks ago against Virginia Military Institute.

“Since the second half of Cincinnati, we’ve been playing better,” Ianello said. “We begin a three-game home stand this week.”

The Panthers will kick off the set of games at InfoCision with a high-powered rushing attack, averaging 187.5 yards on the ground per game. Running back Kedrick Rhodes has run for 400 yards on 82 carries on the year.

The Zips’ rushing attack has been equally impressive of late. Redshirt freshman Jawon Chisholm has had games of 133, 188 and 122 yards in his last three contests. Chisholm’s 532 yards and 5.2 yards per carry have been the staple to UA’s offensive attack this season.

“I think we are developing an identity of a team that’s going to start with the run,” Ianello said. “To compliment that, we have to throw it better.”

Akron’s passing attack ranks 108th in the nation through five games. Quarterback Clayton Moore has completed 61 of 128 passes for six touchdowns and five interceptions on the season, but has not turned the ball over in 11 quarters.

FIU’s quarterback Wesley Carroll has not thrown an interception all season. The senior has tossed six touchdowns, completed 62.3 percent of his passes and thrown for 924 yards on the year.

“When you watch their team play, certainly you can understand why they were the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference,” Ianello said.

Despite their preseason accolades, the Panthers have been upset in their last two games.

The Zips have had struggles of their own, especially on third down.

“The biggest thing the offense has to improve on, I believe, is clearly our third down efficiency is not very good,” said Ianello. “The first thing we did on offense [this week] is watch all of our third downs.”

UA has converted 14 of 67 third downs through five games.

Akron the following week will go on a bye before they continue MAC play against MAC East Division leader Ohio Universtiy (4-1. 1-0). Kickoff of for the is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Infocision Stadium-Summa Field.

The matchup between the Zips and the Panthers will be the first time the two teams have met in football.