Yesterday’s 17-10 victory by the Akron Zips wasn’t pretty, but they managed to overcome adverse field conditions as well as some in-game adversity to escape with their fourth win of the season. Meanwhile, the season for the Central Michigan Chippewas got a little bit longer with their eighth loss. Will the Zips play carry them to a strong finish in 2018 and what could the Chips improve on to salvage something out of this season?
Efficiency? A Fish in the Sea?
If you’re a fan of offensive efficiency, then this was not the game for you. Both teams were horrific on third downs (4-20 for CMU, 3-14 for Akron), and the Chips lost the game in the red zone as they scored ten points on four trips inside the 20-yard line while Akron scored two touchdowns in three trips. The game was certainly there for the taking for Central Michigan, but give some credit to Akron’s defense for making enough plays to win the game.
Speaking of Akron’s defense, John Lako was everywhere for the Zips as he made 23 tackles, two TFLs, and a fumble recovery. He was part of a unit that held CMU to 2.9 yard per rush and forced the Chips out of their comfort zone. If Lako and the defense can sustain their level of play for the rest of the season, they’ll have a chance to get to get to bowl eligibility.
The Third Phase
Despite the number of turnovers that Akron had on offense, it was able to control field position for most of the game via special teams. Nick Gasser made a difference in the punting game with four punts of 50+ yards and three punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Jeremiah Knight proved to be electric in the return game with a 29-yard return on kickoff and 31 total yard on punt return. However, the missed field goal by Gasser in the third quarter could have iced the game earlier and he needs to make those kicks in close games.
For all the talk during the week of CMU potentially playing more true freshmen thanks to the new redshirt rule, they didn’t really impact the playing time of the regular starters for the Chips. The reason for this was probably how the game played out, since it wasn’t decided until late and the regulars didn’t really give a reason to go to the freshmen. With EMU, Bowling Green, and Toledo left on the slate, they’ll certainly have some opportunities to see some action.
Zipping Their Way to a Bowl
Akron earned its fourth win of the season with the victory Saturday and it could very well end up bowling with four games left in the season. There’s also the (remote) possibility of some insanity at the top of the MAC East that can open up the division for the Zips. If they can somehow deal NIU their first league loss next week, the possibility of winning out is very real and can set up some big MAC games down the stretch.