What put a damper on Akron’s conference opener Saturday turned out to be a season-long misfortune.
Akron starting quarterback DJ Irons exited Saturday’s Week 5 overtime defeat to Buffalo with under six minutes remaining with an evident lower body injury. Irons had his left leg wrapped up and struggled to move about the sideline toward the end of regulation, and there was a fear his injury could be long-term.
On Tuesday, that unfortunate news was confirmed. The Action Network breaking news reporter Brett McMurphy confirmed Irons will miss the remainder of the 2023 season with a torn ACL.
Irons was in the midst of his second season as Akron’s primary starting quarterback and his second working in the role under head coach Joe Moorhead. He earned Third Team All-MAC honors in 2022 with 2,605 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns on a 66.8 completion percentage with 314 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
This season, the 6’4”, 215 pound senior was off to a strong start, particularly as a rushing quarterback. He extended a handful of plays in a Week 4 four-overtime thriller at Indiana, rushing for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns on the Hoosiers. Against Buffalo, Irons followed that spectacular performance with 77 rushing yards before suffering an injury on his final run of the year.
As a passer, Irons produced 722 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions this year on a 66.2 completion rate. He started all five games for the Zips in September, possessing 18 total starts since arriving to the program in 2021. Prior to landing in Akron, the Georgia native was a JUCO All-American at Iowa Central Community College.
Akron will proceed forward with sixth-year senior Jeff Undercuffler Jr. as the starter. Undercuffler concluded the Buffalo game Saturday and also saw substantial action in Week 2 against Morgan State of the FCS. He started the Zips’ final two games in 2022, including the program’s most recent FBS win — a 44-12 thrashing of Northern Illinois.