Football ready to take on OU this Saturday

By: D.J. Johnson

The University of Akron football team will return to the field for the first time in two weeks as they welcome Ohio University to InfoCision Stadium Saturday afternoon.

The Zips (1-5, 0-2 MAC) are coming off their bye week and on a two-game skid, matched by the Bobcats’ (4-3, 1-2 MAC) two straight losses to Buffalo and Ball State.

“We are excited about getting back to playing,” said Akron Head Coach Rob Ianello. “We want to establish ourselves as a good home team, and you don’t get any opportunities to do that besides playing at home and playing well.”

Akron is 1-2 at home this season, the lone win coming against Virginia Military Institute (36-13) in week four. Although the Zips are in the middle of one-win season, they have lost their last two games by a combined 18 points.

“We are an improving football team,” Ianello said. “We just want to keep improving every single day in practice…and reap the benefits of that on game day.”

The Bobcats, who have dropped three of their last four games, have been on the wrong end of a pair of nail biters the last two weeks. A week six loss to Buffalo, 38-37, was followed by last week’s loss to Ball State, 23-20.

“It was one of those days where we didn’t get the ball to bounce our way,” said Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich.

Despite the consecutive losses, Ohio has received consistent play from the man under center. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton has thrown 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions, completing nearly 63 percent of his passes for 1,641 yards through the air. The sophomore has also scored four touchdowns with his feet, rushing for 235 yards on the season.

“He really does a great job managing the offense,” Ianello said. “He’s very dangerous because they have designed runs and there’s times he pulls the ball down and runs.”

Tettleton will be running a spread offense similar to what the Zips have seen in Cincinnati and Florida International already this season.

Through seven weeks, UA’s defense ranks 111th out of 120 teams in the FBS. A bright spot in the struggling defense has been linebacker Brian Wagner, who has 81 tackles on the year.

On the offensive side of ball, running back Jawon Chisholm ranks 37th in the nation with 575 yards on the ground. Quarterback Clayton Moore has thrown six touchdowns and six interceptions and is six yards shy of the thousand-yard mark for the year.

“I think [Akron] is a team that is playing better this year and is gaining confidence,” Solich said.

The Bobcat’s run game is led by senior Donte Harden and sophomore Ryan Boykin, who have combined for 719 yards through the first seven weeks.

OU wideout LaVon Brazill has pulled in 35 catches this season for 506 yards and seven touchdowns. Coming off an injury last season, the redshirt senior led the nation in punt returns for touchdowns in 2009, returning three to the end zone.

Ohio started the season 3-0 with wins over New Mexico State, Gardner-Webb and Marshall.

At Saturday’s game, slated for a 3:30 p.m. start time, the first 10,000 fans will receive Zippy bobbleheads. Three of the Zips’ next four games will be at InfoCision Stadium.