As college football season draws ever-closer, we’re running down Indiana’s schedule to preview all 12 opponents for 2023.
Indiana will host Akron in its final non-conference game on September 23. The Zips struggled last season in Joe Moorhead’s first season at the helm. They have potential in some areas this year, but question marks remain in many others.
- Opponent: Akron
- Date/Time/TV: Saturday, September 23, TBA
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
- 2022 record/postseason result: 2-10, 1-7 MAC
Returning production, offense: 78 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Offensive outlook: Akron’s offense finished in the middle of the pack both nationally and in-conference, but the Zips bring a lot of those players back this year. DJ Irons is back at quarterback after finishing second in the MAC with 260.5 passing yards per game, though he finished with a 10:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Junior slot receiver Alex Adams finished second in the conference with 77.7 receiving yards per game last year, and his nine receiving touchdowns tied him for third in the MAC. Akron boasted the No. 18 passing offense in the nation last year.
After finishing with one of the worst rushing offenses in the country, though, the Zips bring in a pair of interesting running back transfers in Drake Anderson and Lorenzo Lingard. Anderson played three years at Northwestern, leading the Wildcats in rushing in 2019, and then went to Arizona for two years. Lingard is a former five-star recruit who suffered a leg injury as a freshman at Miami in 2018 that derailed his season, and he later transferred to Florida for three seasons but didn’t make a major impact. But Akron lost four starters from its offensive line last year, which is a lot of turnover for an important unit.
Returning production, defense: 48 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Defensive outlook: Akron’s defense gave up more points per game than any other MAC team last year. The Zips finished closer to the middle of the conference in yardage allowed, but it’s clear that they need to improve on defense.
The team has six of its 10 leading tacklers back from last year, including interception leader Tyson Durant. There’s turnover in several areas, and Akron made a heavy transfer investment on defense. The Zips brought in 17 defensive players from the portal this offseason.
Akron finished at or near the bottom of the MAC in takeaways, sacks, and tackles for loss last year. The Zips simply need more production on defense to have a chance at improving as a team this year.
Special teams outlook: Akron brings back returner Blake Hester, who finished fifth in the MAC last year with 23.2 yards per return. The Zips turn over most of their other specialists, though. Main punt returner Tony Grimes Jr. is gone, and Hester could factor into that equation as well. Akron appears set to roll with freshman punter Joey Castle, and sophomore Noah Perez takes over the placekicking duties after going 6 for 9 on field goals and 11 for 11 on extra points last year.
Overall Outlook: Athlon Sports pegged Akron to finish fifth in the MAC East. That’s probably a fair evaluation. The team has potential on offense, if the offensive line shapes up and performs well. And if the defense can elevate its play from last year, then the Zips could be better than expected. But that could be a tall task for a defense that allowed 33.5 points per game last year. Expect a good amount of high-scoring games for Akron this year. The offensive potential should lead to at least one or two more wins than last year’s group managed, but the defense will determine whether or not Akron can really turn a corner.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
- Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
- You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
- Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no cost to you.