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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Likes and Dislikes

Five and Five: Akron

What are five things I like about Akron in 2010? What about five things I don’t? This list has all the answers.

Likes

1. New coach Rob Ianello’s history as one of the nation’s premier recruiters. He won’t steal a top prospect away from Ohio State, for example, but he can make Akron one of the more appealing destinations for the Midwest’s second tier of recruits.

2. Linebacker. Brian Wagner, though only a sophomore, is already one of the more productive linebackers in the MAC. He’ll be joined in the starting lineup by Sean Fobbs and Mike Thomas. A good group.

3. The defensive line. It seems as if Shawn Lemon will remain with the program, giving the Zips a pair of experienced ends to team with tackles Dan Marcoux and Almondo Sewell.

4. The chance for a strong finish. The Zips close the season with Ball State, Miami (Ohio) and Buffalo, with the RedHawks and Bulls at home.

5. A line good enough to question why Akron struggled so mightily in running the ball a year ago. It’s especially good on the left side of the line, which will feature tackle Corey Woods and guard Mike Ward.

Dislikes

1. Only one proven commodity at wide receiver. Jeremy LeFrance is a solid option, but Akron’s No. 2 receiver, Jalil Carter, started the final seven games of 2009 at strong safety.

2. Though the season ends nicely, Akron will face three B.C.S conference opponents before the September. Each of Akron’s first five MAC opponents won at least four games in conference play a year ago.

3. Big concerns in the secondary. Particularly at safety. Only three players who took even a single snap at safety return at that position in 2010. Akron might need one of its incoming recruits to earn significant playing time as true freshmen.

4. Two largely unproven options at quarterback. Patrick Nicely played slightly above average last fall, and Matt Rodgers has some potential, but neither has done much on the college level. To be fair, both are still young.

5. The feeling that Akron won’t turn things around overnight. This is necessarily a bad thing, as I discussed in the team preview, but I don’t expect the Zips to do much better than last year’s mark.

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