FINAL SCORE – Central Florida 56, Akron 14
Well, I’ve said most of what should be said during the first three quarters. But make sure to read what Gerry Faust said. I know it’s hard to believe, but he is right — things may not be as dire as they seem. For one, nobody expected the Zips to put things together in Week One. As Faust indicated, it takes patience. And in this case, it’ll take a lot.
But there was something there. This wasn’t a case of the system not working … of player apathy (just the opposite) … of a program that is headed to the vast wasteland of NAIA football. The Zips were just overmatched, plain and simple. They played hard, and got their butts kicked. And not much is likely to change until Bowden and his staff have more time to shape the young guys and bring in some more recruits.
Akron has plenty of big names around to eventually right this ship. Along with Bowden and Amato, former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel works in administration. While Tressel isn’t involved with the football program, having him on campus sure can’t hurt.
Neither can having a proven football mind in Bowden, a man who gets it and provided he sticks around, should make this a program worth following. If not now, then someday.
END 3Q – Central Florida 49, Akron 7
I know this sounds insane, but the Zips looked a lot better this quarter. I can only imagine what Terry Bowden said to them at halftime. I’m sure there were more than a few “dadgums” tossed around.
Anyway, the Zips look to have OK talent at the skill positions, and I really like what I’ve seen from Dalton Williams. But man, the offensive and defensive lines are just not good. Neither is the Zips’ ability to contain big plays, hold onto the ball (that’s a biggie) or do the little things on offense that can keep a drive going.
This is a bad team that’s a ways away. Much further away than I envisioned, actually. And I envisioned the Zips to be bad. Maybe not quite this bad, though.
On that note, former Zips coach Gerry Faust stopped over at the media area at halftime and told writers he’s not overly concerned. Of course, Gerry’s a positive guy and never really is. But he spoke with conviction and a smile when he said he has faith in Bowden.
“They’re a lot better than they were last year,” Faust said. “The kids are hustling. It takes time. They’re gonna have a good program. They’re gonna be fine. I see a lot of good things out there.”
HALFTIME – Central Florida 35, Akron 0
Terry Bowden has not resigned as Zips coach. My guess is he sticks around for an entire year and comes back next. Other than that, the Zips clearly have a long way to go. They can’t tackle, catch, kick or hang on to hand-offs. Other than that, life is great.
On a serious note, nobody could really expect the Zips to turn things around (or even be competitive) right away. The talent just isn’t there. Not as far as Division I is concerned. I mean, seriously, you can’t fumble twice inside your 10-yard line. Even the Browns know that.
But InfoCision Stadium wasn’t built in a day. Took a good two or three years, actually. The team that plays inside the stadium may take at least that long.
Statistically, the Zips have just 17 yards rushing on 13 carries, compared to 141 on 27 for the Knights. Akron QB Dalton Williams is a respectable 12-for-22 passing for 113 yards.
END 1Q – Central Florida 7, Akron 0
Well, on the bright side, it looks like the Zips are improved. Not sure why I say that, but they just seem to be playing with some poise. But like most teams that are lacking in the all-important area of talent … well, they can’t finish plays on offense, and can’t really seem to do anything on defense except wait for Central Florida to mess up.
It took the Knights all of eight plays and just less than 4 minutes to score. Then, when things went well for the Zips, new kicker Robert Stein’s boot from 35 yards bounced off the upright. Just goes to show that the Zips are getting close.
Either way, like what I’ve seen from new Zips QB Dalton Williams (6-for-11, 65 yards). He’s got a clue, a nice arm, and an ability to move.
As an aside, the students really seem to be paying attention. These Thursday night games a nice warmup for the all-important Thursday night college bar scene.
PREGAME – I want Akron to win
The Terry Bowden era has begun at the University of Akron. I live in Akron, and a coach like Bowden has me excited. This despite the fact the Zips are coming of two consecutive 1-11 seasons. That’s two wins … and 22 losse … in two years.
But Bowden, a successful coach at Auburn and North Alabama, is a big name who was brought in to change all that. His defensive coordinator, Chuck Amato, was a successful coach at N.C. State. So if nothing else, the Zips have the right guys on the sidelines.
I went to Kent State. I’m a Golden Flash through and through. But I grew up in Akron, and while the Zips are considered the rival, I’ve always wanted to see them do well. That’s why I’m here tonight: Hope.
Hope that someday this beautiful stadium will someday be full — or something close. Hope that football will matter at a school that’s not far from where it’s born, in the exact city where the first pro team was formed. In Akron. Hope that the students really start to care.
So here we are. The start of a new era. Central Florida of Conference USA. Let’s hope, to steal a favorite word of Bowden’s, it can be a “dadgum” good one.