There were many objectives that Akron coach Terry Bowden wanted to work on during this year's spring practice period. The Zips had to find playmakers on offense and put pressure somehow on the opponents' defense. Akron had to improve on the defensive side by limiting the big play and making critical stops. And the Zips had to find better leadership, get tougher, meaner and in better conditioning.
The Zips managed to take several steps forward in accomplishing numerous factors that should make them a better team in 2012. Last year, the Zips ranked 94th in total defense and 116th out of 120 teams in scoring defense in the FBS. The Zips showed improvement on the defensive side throughout the spring, including making turnovers and limiting points in the spring scrimmage.
Several players have shown promise on the defensive side, including end Albert Presley, cornerbacks Emmanuel Larty and Bill Alexander and defensive lineman Cody Grice.
"That's the No. 1 thing we can do as a team, is play better defense," Bowden said. "They have to come away from here (spring game) happy that they gave up just 14 points. I felt the defense showed a lot of maturity out there ... They didn't give up the big play."
Senior quarterback Dalton Williams is expected to be named the starter in the fall after a strong spring. Williams, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin University, completed 37-of-55 passes for three touchdowns in the spring game. Last year's starter Clayton Moore remains in the mix for the starting position and Kyle Pohl gained valuable experience in the spring.
"If one of them would have come out there and outdone the others in a big way, it would have been easier on me, but I think you know what the reality is," Bowden said. "We'll pick a quarterback. We just won't pick one now."
Wide receivers Marquelo Suel and Dee Frieson both looked impressive in the spring game and converted safety L.T. Smith closed the spring with 13 catches for 107 yards.
"I still see a lot of opportunity," Bowden said. "Guys who can take the ball and go 80 yards or 60 yards are at a premium. Receivers that can outrun people and catch the deep ball are essential to being able to have a great [vertical] passing attack."
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