Akron coach hopes Zips can keep up with Penn State

Penn State's Christian Hackenberg throws downfield against Central Florida at the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland. Hackenberg passed for 454 yards in the win Saturday.
Penn State's Christian Hackenberg throws downfield against Central Florida at the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland. Hackenberg passed for 454 yards in the win Saturday. (AP)
Posted: September 03, 2014

Akron coach Terry Bowden sounded like a guy whose team is going to have its hands full Saturday against Penn State and quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Seemingly, all he has is hope.

"You've just got to hope you can slow [Hackenberg] down," Bowden said Monday on the Mid-American Conference coaches' call. "You hope he doesn't make the really big plays. You hope that you can get a little [bit] of pressure at times. You hope that you can make him go the length of the field by not turning the ball over.

"You hope for a lot of things you'd like to do to extend the football game and to get this game into a fourth quarter or second half or something like that."

Bowden, son of the always quotable Bobby Bowden, the former head coach at Florida State, had some other "hopes" as well, such as "hope we don't give up the big play" and "hope that [we] hang in there for a while."

Penn State enters its home opener and coach James Franklin's very first game at Beaver Stadium riding the high from Saturday's last-second 26-24 victory over Central Florida in Ireland. Hackenberg established a school record with 454 passing yards, and the Nittany Lions defense limited UCF to 24 yards rushing and 246 total yards.

Bowden, whose team won its opener, 41-0, over Howard on Aug. 28, said he has watched the Penn State game at least six times since it ended just before noon Saturday. He was impressed with the Lions' defensive line in addition to Hackenberg.

"I would think they are lickin' their chops this week just because the talent level that Penn State has against what we've got. . . . We have to go out there and try to present," Bowden said. "They look to be one of the better defensive lines I've seen. They play hard. They play aggressive.

"George O'Leary [UCF coach] prides himself on having a very physical football team. They got [24] yards rushing. I would have to say that's a huge strength of their football team."

Bowden, who also was head coach for six years at Auburn and three years at North Alabama, is in his third season at Akron. He is 7-18 with the Zips.

Bowden's coaching staff includes defensive coordinator and associate head coach Chuck Amato, the former head coach at North Carolina State who worked on Bobby Bowden's staff for 21 years; Bowden's younger brother Jeff; and John Pont, who is Terry Bowden's son-in-law and the grandson of the late coach by the same name who led Indiana to its only Rose Bowl.

Players of the week

Sam Ficken, who went 4 for 4 on field goals including the game-winning 36-yarder, and redshirt freshman wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton were honored by the Big Ten. Ficken was named the conference's special-teams player of the week, while Hamilton split freshman-of-the-week honors with Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett.


jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

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