Bowden rebuilding Akron Zips
Penn State faces a coach with a famous last name this week in Terry Bowden, who is in his third year of trying to rebuild the Akron program.
Bowden, son of legendary former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, took over at Akron in 2012 and went just 1-11. He made big strides a year ago, leading the team to a 5-7 mark, and the Zips got off to an impressive start this season with a 41-0 drubbing of Howard in their opener Saturday.
“You have to follow the same formula to have success,” Terry Bowden said in an online video posted by the Akron football program. “You’ve got to recruit good people. Good kids with talent, yes, ability to play winning football, but also character.”
He went on to add, “What we’re doing here at Akron is recruiting athletes with great character so that we can develop them over time and each year they get better and better.”
Bowden led Auburn to an 11-0 record and No. 4 national ranking his first season in 1993. He went on to coach the Tigers for six seasons, going 47-17-1, but resigned following a 1-5 start in 1998.
He turned to broadcasting after that and enjoyed many years of success, then got back into coaching at North Alabama in 2009.
Bowden spoke with reporters on a teleconference Monday and addressed how difficult it will be for his Akron squad to slow down Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who threw for a school-record 454 yards Saturday against Central Florida.
“You hope he doesn’t make as many big plays,” Bowden said. “You hope you can get a little pressure at times. You hope you can make him drive the length of the field by not turning the ball over. But I don’t think you stop a young man like that.
“I’ve been around this business a long time, and he’s got all the qualities as a quarterback that you’re looking for. He can just throw the pill.”
It’s not just Penn State’s offense that concerns Bowden. The Nittany Lions had a strong defensive effort for the first three quarters against UCF and held the Knights to only 24 yards rushing.
“I was impressed with everything,” Bowden said of PSU’s defense before later adding, “There are not a lot of weaknesses that I saw with their secondary or their front.”
Bowden was most impressed with the Lions’ defensive line, calling it “one of the better (ones) that I’ve seen in Division I.
“I would think they are licking their chops this week just because the talent level Penn State has against what we got,” Bowden said.
Akron’s passing game could be a concern for PSU. The Zips threw for 396 yards in their opener, 304 by starter Kyle Pohl, who completed 22-of-35 passes with four TDs.
One knock on Pohl in the game was that he scrambled too much, which he admitted wasn’t necessary.
“Not all of them were needed scrambles,” Pohl told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I need to learn how to stand in the pocket.”
Penn State place-kicker Sam Ficken was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday after drilling the game-winning field goal on the final play and going 4-for-4 on field goals against Central Florida.
It’s the third time in his career that Ficken has won the conference award.
Receiver DaeSean Hamilton was named the league’s co-Freshman of the Week after setting PSU freshman records for catches (11) and yards (165) in a game.