Early Matchup - Central Mich vs. Kentucky
Kentucky QB Morgan Newton
Kentucky QB Morgan Newton
Posted May 15, 2011

Looking ahead at the Early Matchups - Central Michgian vs. Kentucky

Preview 2011

Week 2 - CMU vs. Kentucky 

- 2011 Kentucky Preview | 2011 Kentucky Offense
- 2011 Kentucky Defense | 2011 Kentucky Depth Chart

- 2011 Central Michigan Preview | 2011 Central Michigan Offense
- 2011 Central Michigan Defense | 2011 Central Michigan Depth Chart

Central Michigan
Offense: The offense was going to take a massive step back after losing an all-timer of a quarterback in Dan LeFevour and so much talent from a MAC Championship attack, and it did. The passing game grew into a strength as QB Ryan Radcliff started to figure out what he was doing and the yards and production started to come. Turnovers were the big problem with 18 interceptions and 14 fumbles, but if everyone can hold on to the ball, the O should be terrific. The receiving corps is fine, but nothing special, and Paris Cotton leads a decent group of running backs who should make the ground game better. The key will be the play of the line that never seemed to have the same combination twice with injuries playing a big role. If everyone stays healthy, the front five will be a plus.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin has an interesting bunch to work with. The stars should be in a lightning fast secondary with all four starters able to fly, but the picks have to start coming after just three interceptions coming from the defensive backs in each of the last two seasons. It would help if there was more from a pass rush that hasn't been there in years, but there's enough athleticism up front to hope for a bit of an improvement. The big question mark is at linebacker where tackling machines Matt Berning and Nick Bellore have to be replaced. There are several decent prospects ready to go more with bigger roles, but there aren't any sure-thing stars to count on right away. Overall, this will be a decent defense, but it'll only improve if it's more disruptive.

Best offensive player: Junior QB Ryan Radcliff. If he didn't have to be the quarterback who replaced Dan LeFevour, his first season at the helm wouldn't have been that bad. No, he didn't lead the team to enough big wins, and he didn't come through in the clutch, but he bombed away for 3,358 yards and 17 touchdowns and got better and better as the season went on. As long as he cuts down on his picks, after throwing 17 last year, he should be one of the MAC's star playmakers and a franchise quarterback CMU can build around for the next two years.

Best defensive player: Junior SS Jahleel Addae. He's not all that big at just 5-9 and 193 pounds, but he packs a wallop and he's a tremendous leader for the secondary. The Chippewas have speed in the secondary, but Addae can keep up with any of the corners with some of the best wheels on the team. He stepped up his game after being a key reserve as a redshirt freshman, making things happen all over the field as a terrific run stopper, but now he has to start making most things happen when the ball is in the air after coming up with just four broken up passes and no picks.

Offense: Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders had problems cranking out production on a consistent basis, and the points weren't exactly flowing over the second half of the season against the better teams, scoring a total of 24 points in the final two games against Tennessee and Pitt, and now there's some major work to be done. On the plus side, the line should be among the best in the SEC with four (really five) starters back from a group that was excellent throughout last season. The very big, very fast receiving corps loses key targets Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews, but welcomes back a slew of interesting, talented prospects. The backfield is the biggest issue with QB Morgan Newton needing to shine in place of the quietly productive Mike Hartline and with a running back-by-committee approach in place to take over for the multi-talented Derrick Locke.

Defense: Only two starters are gone from a decent defense that struggled against the run and was great against the pass. The Wildcats finished 45th in the nation in total defense, but allowed 28.38 points per game and did next to nothing to get into the backfield. Danny Trevathan is one of the nation's best linebackers, and Winston Guy is a potentially special safety, but the D needs pass rushers up front with the line and the defense finishing dead last in the SEC in tackles for loss and 11th in sacks. There will be plenty of shuffling in the secondary with a 4-2-5 alignment used on a regular basis, and there's enough experience and enough depth for defensive coordinators Steve Brown and Rick Minter to get creative.

Best offensive player: Junior OG Larry Warford. While it might not seem like a plus for the top offensive player to be a guard, particularly a right guard, but the 340-pound Warford is a key to an athletic, veteran line that does a great job in pass protection and needs a guy to work behind for the ground game. Warford is great at burying his man and is surprisingly light on his feet. As good as he is, though, the team desperately needs QB Morgan Newton to be the star and the best offensive playmaker. He can be if Warford and the line does its job.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Danny Trevathan. He should've been a finalist for the Butkus Award. With 231 career tackles, and while he won't make a ton of plays behind the line, he'll always be around the ball. With 144 tackles last season led by 14 stops in the bowl loss to Pitt, 16 against Mississippi State, and 17 against Auburn. While he had four double-digit solo tackle games, UK lost all four. Consistent, he made ten stops or more in 10 of the team's 13 games.