Troy zips into Week 4 matchup with Akron

Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

Coming off a victory in its conference opener, the Troy football team will return home Saturday to take on the Akron Zips of northeast Ohio. Troy is looking to continue its momentum after a key road win over New Mexico State last week.

Akron comes into this game with a 1-2 record, having yet to play a team from the same level of competition. The Zips have played two Power Five teams and lost both. In between those games, Akron defeated FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Trojans will be Akron’s first Group of Five opponent.

The Troy offense improved once again last week against the Aggies, posting a season-best 105.8 yards per six points. Not only did Troy need fewer yards to score six points, but it also dominated the football with a season-high 34 minutes of possession.

Akron was able to move the football with relative ease against Iowa State last week in a 41-14 loss. The Zips were one dimensional in the loss, however, rushing for just 38 yards. Outside of the win over Pine Bluff, Akron has just 111 rushing yards on 1.9 yards per carry in two games.

Senior running back Warren Ball, a former Ohio State Buckeye and four-star recruit, is the primary back in the Zips’ offense. Ball has 213 yards on the ground so far with 146 coming in the Pine Bluff game.

At quarterback, Akron is led by senior Thomas Woodson. He played in just seven games last season, but averaged 297 passing yards per game when he did play.

Woodson has improved with each game this year, having his best game of the year against Iowa State last week. He threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns against the Cyclones, completing 62.5 percent of his passes.

Defensively, Akron has given up an average of 46.5 points per game against FBS competition. The front seven, which has 21 tackles for loss so far, is the strong suit of the defense.

The secondary, on the other hand, has struggled. In two FBS games, the Zips have given up 639 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. The Zips are 10th in the Mid-American Conference in passes defended with just six for the year.

For Troy, Head Coach Neal Brown continues to spread the ball around. Ten different players have accounted for at least 50 yards of offense thus far. Senior quarterback Brandon Silvers leads the way, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 770 yards this season through three games.

Senior running back Jordan Chunn is off to a slow start, having just 196 rushing yards after having 381 through three games last year. However, Chunn had 64 carries at this point last year, 20 more than he has now.

His drop in carries can be attributed, in part, to the rise of Memphis transfer student Jamarius Henderson. Henderson is averaging 9.6 yards with each carry for a total of 183 yards.

On defense, the front seven continues to cause havoc with 25 tackles for loss so far. In comparison, Troy’s offense has been tackled for loss just 14 times.

The back end has also played well so far, allowing over 100 yards fewer through the air than Troy did at this point last season. The secondary has done this despite recording just one interception through three games.

This game will kick off on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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