There may be no better example of the football cliche "a win is a win" than tonight's James Madison-Akron contest.
Let's get the bad things out of the way first. Giving up 33 points to an FCS team, no matter who they are, is a problem. The defense has now given up 30+ points in the first two games, and Michigan is next week. This is getting to be a disturbing trend, as last year the Zips gave up thirty points or more in nine of twelve games. The offense seems to be average at best, but the defense needs to take major steps in order for this team to seriously improve.
Akron has to get more out of the run game. Terry Bowden's offense is built around the passing game, but he needs to find more ways to get the ball in Jawon Chisholm's hands. The Zips gained 67 yards total on the ground tonight, but that included negative 28 yards in sacks. Chisholm touched the ball twelve times tonight, which is not enough for your biggest playmaker.
The offensive line played pretty poorly, as both quarterbacks barely had any time to throw. James Madison had five or so sacks, so that's another concern. And seeing as what Michigan's defense is doing to Notre Dame right now, I shudder to think what'll happen next week.
But, it wasn't all bad. The Zips DID win, which is certainly a positive. Akron got a good performance from both Kyle Pohl and Nick Hirschman. Hirschman went down with an injury late in the third quarter and Pohl recovered nicely from his first quarter performance. The receivers played well, as Andrew Pratt led the group with 118 yards on just three receptions. There weren't a whole lot of drops, and if the offensive line would have given either quarterback more time the receiving numbers could have been a lot more impressive.
Football IQ is a term that is thrown around a lot, but I wanted to give a lot of credit to the Zips defense on what ended up being the last play from scrimmage. James Madison was driving down into Akron territory with less than fifteen seconds left and no timeouts. They completed a pass over the middle, and the Akron defense swarmed to the ball, doing their best to hold the receiver up so that more time would tick off of the clock before it would be spotted. The clock eventually ran out on the Dukes, which sealed the Zips victory. By holding up that receiver, the defense bought some valuable time that ended up giving them the game.
A victory is certainly something to celebrate. But, next week is Michigan in the Big House. I'd think the goal would be to try to do a little better than Central Michigan did, but at least the Zips have some momentum going into that one.