MAC Pre-Spring Preview - Why To Be Happy
Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish
Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish
Posted Feb 19, 2011

2011 MAC Pre-Spring Preview - Why Every MAC Team Should Be Happy

2011 Pre-Spring Preview   

Why To Be Excited - MAC

Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
East   Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent State | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West  Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | Northern Illinois | Toledo | West Michigan

2011 MAC Pre-Spring Preview
- MAC Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 


Seven starters are back on a defense that showed promise late last year. After getting ripped apart, the D held Miami to 19. Three starters are back on an offensive line that just needs to give QB Patrick Nicely a little bit of time to make the offense to be better. Junior-to-be linebacker Brian Wagner might be the MAC's best defensive player.

Bowling Green
Matt Schilz to Kamar Jorden. The passing game needed a year to get past the Tyler Sheehan-to-Freddie Barnes era, and now the hope is there that Schilz-to-Jorden becomes special. The schedule is manageable to start out with at Idaho, Morgan State, and Wyoming to kick things off.

Seven starters are back on an offense that can't help but be better. After struggling so much last year, all the parts of the passing game are back and Jerry Davis and Alex Dennison are two decent quarterbacks who can provide an instant improvement. The O can't be any worse.

Kent State
New head man Darrell Hazell should get more out of an offense that struggled throughout last year, finishing 102nd in the nation. Nine starters return, and that doesn't count leading rusher Jacquise Terry. QB Spencer Keith and WR Tyshon Goode lead an attack loaded with veterans, and now Hazell needs to bring an offensive identity.

Miami University
Everyone but the head coach is back. Nine starters return on both sides of the ball, and that doesn't include QB Zac Dysert, who's back from a lacerated spleen to battle with MAC title-winning passer Austin Boucher. Everything is in place to repeat, or at the very least win the East.

Eight starters are back on offense. The running game won't be dominant, but it should be effective and efficient if Phil Bates takes over the starting quarterback job. Donte Harden needs to be a tough back in place of Vince Davidson, but working behind a line with all five starters returning, pounding away shouldn't be an issue.

Al Golden left the cupboard stocked. The building process is still in progress and the results of some terrific recruiting classes should still be paying off. The backfield is in place with Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown among the best 1-2 rushing punches in the nation, and they get to work behind a terrific offensive front. There are enough solid defensive players returning to hope for a run at the East title.


Ball State
Eight starters return on both sides of the ball. New head coach Pete Lembo inherits a team that took its lumps throughout last year with Keith Wenning fighting through a true freshman season. Four starters are back on an offensive line that should be one of the team's biggest strengths.

Central Michigan
Ryan Radcliff. It's asking way too much for anyone to be Dan LeFevour, but Radcliff is coming off a strong first season closing with three 300-yard games in a row. He might have thrown 17 picks, but he showed the potential to make the offense shine. With three starters returning up front, and with three defensive linemen returning, the trenches should be fine.

Eastern Michigan
Eight starters return on defense and QB Alex Gillett is back to lead the offense. The D might have been a disaster last year, and actually, for decades, but the entire front four is back and there should be a good defensive rotation. The most talented receivers are back to help out Gillett.

Northern Illinois 
Nine starters are back on an offense that was unstoppable as the regular season went on. Star RB Chad Spann might be gone, but QB Chandler Harnish is a terrific veteran to work around, and he'll have time to work behind a line that gets all five starters back. RBs Cameron Bell and Jasmin Hopkins, your table is ready.

With nine starters returning on offense and eight back on defense, there's no excuse for the coaching staff to not do big things in conference play. The team was No. 1 in the league in turnover margin and should be terrific at wreaking defensive havoc with three starters back to the offensive front, while the secondary can't help but be better with three starters returning. All the skill players are back with tremendous depth at quarterback, running back, and receiver.

Western Michigan
With nine defensive starters returning, the production can't help but be a bit better. The defensive front was already among the best in the MAC at getting into the backfield, and all four starters are back on the line. The MAC's best passing game gets Alex Carder back to sling it around, and he has his tackles back to protect him. Outside of a trip to Nebraska, the non-conference schedule is a breeze facing Weber State, Texas State, and at Utah State.