Zips football is back this Saturday when they head to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers on FOX at 8 PM.
Akron won the MAC East division title last season and it wasn’t expected. Kato Nelson had stepped in for injured quarterback Thomas Woodson against Ohio. Nelson led the Zips to a 37-34 victory as he threw for 322 yards and added four touchdowns.
Ultimately Akron went on to face Toledo in the MAC championship game, where they lost 45-28. Akron however did make a bowl, The Boca Raton Bowl where they took on FAU led by head coach Lane Kiffin. The Zips were dismantled 50-3 and finished the season 7-7.
Akron peaked a year early, which leads to much excitement heading into the 2018 season. Especially when you open up on national TV against Nebraska who are entering a new era under new head coach Scott Frost who last season led Central Florida to an undefeated season and a self dubbed “National Championship”.
Things that can lead to a victory for the Zips. Sophomore quarterback Kato Nelson is a key, the dual threat quarterback has shown he can make plays with his legs, but the offense needs better decisions in the pocket.
Decision making can be vastly improved for Nelson this year. First, he expierenced playing time last season and showed good decision making, another year of being on the field can really help him improve.
The Zips have a new running back in town, Van Edwards the transfer from Oregon State. At 5’8 he’s a burst of power. Weighing in at 200 pounds. After missing most of the 2017 season, you can expect a strong rush attack to try and help the air attack early on in this game.
Defensively the Zips need to focus in early on Adrian Martinez. The true freshman QB who was named the starting quarterback a few days ago and the first true freshman to start at QB in Nebraska history.
The dual threat QB stands at 6’3 and weighs in at 190 pounds. You can expect Martinez to try and make plays with his legs.
The Zips led by senior linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III, who is being looked at as an NFL prospect will need to focus early on stopping the run and putting pressure on the young quarterback.
Lastly the key for the Zips defense lays in the secondary. Stanley Morgan Jr is going to be a tough cover for this secondary. Last year, Morgan Jr had ten touchdowns and was close to pulling in 1,000 yards.
Defensive pressure for the DL can startle Martinez early and make him try to force balls down the field which could lead to turnovers for the Zips defense.
Prediction for Saturday?
I expect the Zips to give it their all, look on early for Nelson to try and make plays with his feet to try and pick up first downs early for the Zips. Defensively I see the Zips putting some pressure on Martinez early. As the game goes on I think the Cornhuskers will adjust and ultimately take this game.