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2011 Spring Preview - MAC Position To Watch
Central Michigan QB Ryan Radcliff
Central Michigan QB Ryan Radcliff
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 5, 2011


The positions to watch for each MAC team going into spring practices.


2011 MAC Spring Preview

The Position To Watch

Click for each team's 2011 spring preview
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 Spring Preview
- 2011 MAC Team-By-Team Schedules 
- 2011 MAC Composite Schedule & Week Rankings 
- 2011 MAC Spring Attitudes  
- 2011 MAC Early Buzz 
- 2011 MAC Positions To Watch 
- 2011 MAC Spring Rankings 

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 

East

Akron
Wide receiver. Running back is also a huge issue with Alex Allen and Nate Burney both gone. The quarterback situation will get the spotlight with everyone hoping Patrick Nicely starts producing, but he might have a rocky start with Jalil Carter and Jeremy LaFrance, the two leading receivers of last year, needing to be replaced. Gary Pride, Anthony Meriwether, and Keith Sconiers will all get their chances to be the main man.

Bowling Green
Defensive end. It's not like the Falcon defense did much of anything to miss any one player going into this year, but the loss of Darius Smith and Angelo Magnone will be felt in terms of experience. Any improvement on defense will come if more pressure is generated from the outside, and sophomore Anthony Lawson has to lead a young group that can show that things are going to be different. If they're not getting to the quarterback this spring against the mediocre Falcon offensive line, it's not going to get to anyone.

Buffalo
Besides quarterback, defensive back. The Bulls were fantastic against the pass finishing 18th in the nation thanks to a veteran group led by FS Davonte Shannon, arguably the most productive safety in MAC history, and corner Josh Thomas, who spent a late February weekend in Indianapolis working out at the Combine. Throw in the loss of Domonic Cook, an interception star at strong safety, and Sherrod Lott, a 32-game starter at corner, and UB has a ton of work to do.

Kent State
Linebacker. The line should once again be strong with Roosevelt Nix and Jake Dooley to work around, and the secondary will be strong at corner, but the safeties will need work with Brian Lainhart gone and linebacker will be an early issue. Cobrani Mixon and Dorian Wood were excellent producers who made a slew of big plays, and now it'll take a slew of young, untested players to fill in and keep the nation's fourth ranked run defense working.

Miami University
Quarterback. Austin Boucher was fantastic down the stretch last season leading MU to the MAC title win over Northern Illinois and the bowl victory over Middle Tennessee. However, Zac Dysert, who missed the second half of the year hurt, is the bigger talent and is going to want his job back. It doesn't matter much who's under center; MU will have a quarterback advantage in most MAC games.

Ohio
Defensive lineman. The offense is loaded with returning veterans, but the defense is another story. Safety is an issue and top corner Julian Posey will be missed, but the biggest problem is on the defensive front that loses all four starters. Last year's front line failed to do much to get into the backfield and struggled with sacks and tackles for loss, and now it'll be up to a slew of young, relatively untested players to try to do more. Fortunately, New Mexico State and Gardner Webb are on the slate to tune up, but the more the D line can do this spring, the better.

Temple
Defensive tackle. The quarterback situation will be worth watching and the receivers need to show more, but the big key to the season will be the emergence of some new linebackers to replace Elijah Joseph and Amara Kamara and some studs to take over on the defensive interior. Replacing linebackers isn't that hard, but finding an NFL-caliber defensive tackle is as tough as it gets. Muhammad Wilkerson left early for the NFL and might be a first round draft pick, while Elisha Joseph was a stud on the nose.

West 

Ball State
Quarterback. Can Keith Wenning be the passing quarterback who can do what the new coaching staff wants? The 6-4, 220-pound true sophomore did what he could last year, but he struggled to move the chains. He has a decent receiving corps to work with, and he'll have some good backs to hand off to, but he has to show this spring that he can be a passer to work around for the next three years, but junior Kelly Page will get every shot to get back the starting job he earned last year.

Central Michigan
Linebacker. The defense wasn't all that bad and it got better as the season went on. The key was up the play up the middle with tackle Sean Murnane and MLB Nick Bellore, while weakside linebacker Matt Berning was also one of the key playmakers. All three are gone, and it's the one area on the team that needs a lot of work. Bellore will be in the NFL, Murnane will get a look in a camp, and Berning was a tackling machine. The loss of those three could be enough to expect a drop in overall defensive production.

Eastern Michigan
Defensive end. EMU has GOT to start hitting the quarterback, and the hope has to be for Kalonji Kashama and Javon Reese to be better. There are enough options to start coming up with a good rotation, and it's a must to be far more aggressive and far more disruptive. The secondary was lousy last year, and now it has to replace two starters. It could use all the help it can get from the front four.

Northern Illinois 
Defensive tackle. While last year's interior linemen didn't get the press or the spotlight that ends Jake Coffman and Sean Progar did, they were fantastic against the run and they held up well for their size. D.J. Pirkle and Mike Krause are gone, as is Coffman, and while the linebacking corps is good enough to clean up a slew of messes, it's going to take some work to come up with a steady rotation on the inside. Coming up with a lock-down corner wouldn't be bad, either.

Toledo
Quarterback. As the cliché goes, if you have to starting quarterbacks, you don't have a No. 1, but Toledo has a nice situation with both Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin good enough to carry the offense. The coaching staff might end up rotating the two to take advantage of the various skills, but the hope is for one to distinguish himself this spring. Dantin is back from a shoulder injury and will get to bomb away, but Owens has the better arm and isn't going to hand over the starting gig after a strong second half of 2010.

Western Michigan
Offensive guard is the key spot to worry about, but weakside linebacker will get plenty of attention with Jamail Berry gone. The former star made 94 tackles last year and was strong with the ball in the air making five picks in 2009 and two last season. Dex Jones led the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and came up with 46 tackles and 5.5 sacks, and now he'll get his chance to shine in a full-time role. He could go from very good to dominant with more work and with Mitch Zajac back in the middle to pick up the slack against the run.

Click for each team's 2011 spring preview
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 Spring Preview
- 2011 MAC Team-By-Team Schedules 
- 2011 MAC Composite Schedule & Week Rankings 
- 2011 MAC Spring Attitudes  
- 2011 MAC Early Buzz 
- 2011 MAC Positions To Watch 
- 2011 MAC Spring Rankings