UB Game Day: Five Things to Watch vs. Akron
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at UB Stadium.
Radio 1520 AM. TV: Time Warner Sports. Online: ESPN3.
1. Ball security. The weather forecast does not look good. It calls for 45 degrees at kickoff with a 35 percent chance of rain. This is the first poor-weather game of the season. It will be tough on receivers. Avoiding killer turnovers is even more important than usual.
2. Fast start? UB is long, long overdue to get off to a good start – or at least prevent the opponent from getting off to a fast start. The Bulls have been outscored, 55-7, in the first quarter. For the sake of the players’ confidence and the fans’ goodwill, UB needs to get off to a good start.
3. Via air or ground? Akron is the most pass-heavy offense in the Mid-American Conference. The Zips have dropped back to throw on 57 percent of their plays. But will they shift their focus against UB? The Bulls are 127th out of 128 in the nation against the run, allowing 289 yards a game. Akron’s rush offense is 11th in the MAC. QB Tommy Woodson just returned from a shoulder injury last week to lead an impressive win over Ball State. The injury kept Woodson out three games. He ran three times for 21 yards last week. No. 2 QB Tra’Von Chapman ran more in his three starts in place of Woodson. He carried 10 times for 80 yards against Miami Ohio. Let’s see if Akron subs in Chapman on some packages, because UB has been poor at stopping the quarterback read options.
4. UB offense. Akron’s defense actually ranks worse than UB’s offense. The Zips stand 11th overall in the 12-team MAC, giving up 478 yards a game. UB, despite its poor run D, is ninth, yielding 446 yards a game. UB should be able to get something going against Akron.
5. Third-down conversions. UB’s defense is allowing conversions on 47.1 percent of third downs. Akron’s defense is allowing conversions on 47.2 percent of third downs. Those figures rank 113th and 114th in the nation, respectively. Let’s see if either defense can get off the field.