NIU-Akron Preview: Remember the Idaho

LEXINGTON KY - SEPTEMBER 18: Winston Guy #21 of the Kentucky Wildcats tackles Alex Allen #10 of the Akron Zips during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on September 18 2010 in Lexington Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Idaho.  That's the name of the state that produces delicious potatoes and the football team that managed to upset the Huskies last year after they defeated the Purdue Boilermakers.  What makes the difference this year you say?  Coach Kill, sound off:

I think we reacted differently than we did against Purdue, for whatever reason, I don't know. It's probably because for most of the game, certainly the second half, we dominated the football game. It's not like it was a last second victory or had to do a fake punt or something like that to win the game. We clearly won the game. This group of kids seemed to play really hard, the hardest we've played, the fastest we've played, but I think they're taking things week to week and they're listening very well.

The veterans have been through this and it's not like this is another non-conference game.  The MAC sked starts up and the Huskies are going to be pumped up to start 1-0.  By the way, Akron is 0-4 and has lost to an FCS team.

When The Huskies are on offense

The weird 3-3-5 defense that the Zips always used to run is gone.  Curt Mallory, the son of legendary coach Bill Mallory (1983 MAC Champs what!) has implemented a basic 4-3 defense.  Add that to your NIU-Akron connections list.  Mallory was in charge of the Illinois defense from 2007-2009 until he got canned so that Zook could continue his reign of terror.

The defense hasn't been faring well this season ranking 107th in total D, 86th in rushing D and 114th in pass efficiency D.

The most productive player on the DL for the Zips is avid text messager Shawn Lemon (SR, 6'1" 235).  He is still with the team so far and has 3 sacks on the season so far.  Lined up next to him is Almondo Sewell (SR, 6'1" 285) who has been on one of the All-MAC teams for the past 3 years.  DE Hasan Hazime (JR, 6'4" 270) is another returning starter that can make an impact on the DL.  The Zips are only 91st in the nation in getting sacks this year.

At linebacker, you have two extremely productive linebackers in Brian Wagner (SO, 6'2" 220) who led the MAC in tackles a redshirt freshman last year with 132.  This year he's being pushed by Mike Thomas (SR, 5'11" 220) who has 37 tackles to Wagner's 35.

Akron's secondary is absolutely horrible, but their best player is Manley Waller (JR, 5'8" 165) who was 3rd team All-MAC last year.  He can't do it all, as the Zips are giving up an atrocious 278.75 ypg this season.

Offensive Gameplan

The Huskies are going to run the ball again, that's no secret.  Even though Akron's front seven is a lot better than Minnesota I believe that we'll have some success.  If their linebackers start to become too effective early on the game then it will be time to air it out against a pass defense that has done nothing so far this season.  Martel Moore will have a field day against these guys.

When the Huskies are on defense

Akron is now a pro-style rather than a spread offense under new HC Rob Ianello.  His new OC is John Latina who coached Notre Dame's OL and was assistant HC for offense from 2005-08.  So far it's not working.  The Zips rank 114th in total offense, 107th in passing offense, 114th in passing efficiency and 108th in sacks allowed.

Patrick Nicely is the quarterback and the transition to the new offensive system has been a difficult one.  Nicely is last in the MAC in quarterback efficiency.  So far he's 45 of 102 (44.1%) for 508 yds, 3 TDs and 1 INT.

When Nicely throws the ball it's likely going to be going to Jeremy LaFrance, who has 17 catches for 232 yds and 3 TDs so far for the Zips.

The offensive line isn't very good at protecting the QB, as they've gotten sacked at a tune of 3.25 per game.  Rushing the ball seems to be improving as Nate Burney (SR, 5'6" 170) and Alex Allen (SR, 6'0" 210) both have around 50 carries for 240 yds a pop.  Allen, the power back also has 3 TDs.  Akron's total rushing offense ranks 82nd in the nation.  Akron's 3rd string running back?  Our old friend Giorgio Bowers, a former NIU de-commitment but apparently we didn't want him anyways.

LT Corey Woods (SR, 6'5" 300) and LG Mike Ward (SR, 6'3" 300) lead the way for the running backs.

Defensive Gameplan

Stopping the run is going to continue to be the theme as usual.  Akron really doesn't know what it's doing yet with the new system and the defensive line is going to make Patrick Nicely's day terrible.  I predict at least 5 sacks for the Huskies in this one to help out the secondary.

Special Teams

Jalil Carter ranks 4th in the conference returning kickoffs (23.88 ypr). The Zips are also 56th in the nation in net punting and 29th in kickoff coverage.  Their kicker, Igor Iveljic is 5 of 7 this season

ST Gameplan

Keep using Cklamovski for everything and get Tommy Davis more involved with returns.  We can't have another fumble on a kickoff return and our coverage teams need to be efficient in this one.

How do you see this one ending up for the Huskies?

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