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2011 MAC Preview - West Lookaheads
Western Michigan WR Jordan White
Western Michigan WR Jordan White
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2011


Preview 2011 - CFN MAC West Team-By-Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish



MAC West Predicted Finish

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EAST
- 2011 Akron Preview | 2011 Bowling Green Preview
- 2011 Buffalo Preview | 2011 Kent State Preview
- 2011 Miami Univ. Preview | 2011 Ohio Preview
- 2011 Temple Preview

WEST
- 2011 Ball State Preview | 2011 Central Michigan Preview
- 2011 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2011 Northern Illinois Preview
- 2011 Toledo Preview | 2011 Western Michigan Preview
 
- 2011 MAC Preview | 2011 MAC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-MAC Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 MAC Schedules & Picks
- 2011 CFN All-MAC West Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 MAC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2011 MAC Thoughts
- 2011 MAC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2010 MAC Preview

1. Toledo

Offense: The overall numbers were solid, but they weren’t as good as they should’ve been and the season was too inconsistent. Now there’s no excuse to not be better with two excellent quarterback options in Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens, Adonis Thomas leading a good running game, and with Eric Page one of the nation’s best receivers. Throw in two four-year starters at tackle, and decent prospects all across the board, and the pieces are there. Finding a No. 2 receiver next to Page is a must, and Zac Kerin has to shine at center, but this should be an occasionally devastating attack.

Defense: The defense that was so abysmal two seasons ago played around with a few changes and counted on a few new starters to make a difference, and it all worked well as the Rockets went from miserable to respectable. The pass rush was strong and the secondary was good, but the biggest key was the ability to take the ball away with 20 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries. The line should be terrific at getting into the backfield from all four spots, and the linebacking corps, while smallish, can hit thanks to Dan Molls and Isaiah Ballard, two of the MAC’s most active defenders. The secondary is loaded with options and should be terrific at coming up with picks as long as T.J. Fatinikun and the front four are hitting the quarterback again on a regular basis.

2. Western Michigan

Offense: After a major disappointment of a 2009 season, the WMU attack got back to form thanks to the development of Alex Carder, a great-looking junior bomber who threw for 3,334 yards. The return of receiver Jordan White for a sixth year gives Carder a star target to work with, but the rest of the veteran corps is good enough to spread the ball around to. The running backs fit the system with quickness and athleticism, and there should be a good rotation of five runners looking to hit the home run. The line isn’t anything special and needs to figure out the starting three in the interior, but Dann O’Neill is a great right tackle and Anthony Parker is a big veteran who can work inside or out.

Defense: The defense finally stepped up and produced as expected with defensive coordinator Dave Cohen taking over the job and getting far more out of a group that always had the athleticism, but struggled to put it all together. The defensive front wasn’t a rock against the run on a regular basis, but it was far better at getting into the backfield and generating pressure on the quarterback. Now the line should be phenomenal with all four starters back and plenty of depth to form a good rotation. Mitch Zajac is a tough veteran middle linebacker who’ll have everything funneled his was in the 4-2-5 alignment, and the secondary is loaded with speed and quickness with the ability to clean up everything the front six doesn’t take care of. Young corners Lewis Toler and Garrett Smith should become one of the best tandems in the MAC over the next few years.

3. Northern Illinois

Offense: Offensive coordinator Matt Canada isn’t going to change things around too much. He knows the program having cut his teeth as an assistant during the Joe Novak days working with the offensive backfield, and he has a whale of a talent base to play around with. There will be some no-huddle and the overall tempo and pace will be quickened, but there’s not need to tinker much with an attack that finished seven in the nation in rushing and first in the MAC in yards, points, passing efficiency, and sacks allowed. MAC Player of the Year Chad Spann is gone, but there are more than enough good running backs to work with. QB Chandler Harnish might be the best player in the MAC if he can stay healthy, and he gets all his top weapons back to work with. Best of all, the line will be the best in the league by a ten-mile-wide margin with all five starters back and at least three sure-thing all-stars in tackle Trevor Olson, center Scott Wedige, and guard Joe Pawlak.

Defense: The defense will be fine, and head coach Dave Doeren is a defensive whiz, but it’s going to take a little while. The NIU offense should be dominant. It might need to be. The Huskie defense didn’t get enough credit last year, overshadowed by the offense, but it was among the best in the MAC and did what it needed to. New defensive coordinator Jay Niemann has to rebuild several parts of the D that finished 26th in the nation in yards allowed and 14th in scoring defense, and it all starts up front with the top tackles and leader on the end Jake Coffman needing to be replaced. The tragic shooting of star middle linebacker Devon Butler – he’s recovering – took away the team’s best linebacker, and now the spotlight will be on a slew of untested options. The secondary is a bit more stable than the front seven, but not by much.

4. 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.

5. Eastern Michigan

Offense: The idea will be for offensive coordinator Ken Karchner to get more out of the passing game after a disastrous year throwing the ball, and the parts are there to do it in the receiving corps. EMU has a slew of young, speedy targets who can stretch the field, but QB Alex Gillett has to push the ball deep. More of a runner than a thrower, Gillett led the team in rushing, but was wildly inefficient. He has to get the ball out of his hands quicker and do more with his receivers, but his worth is making plays on the move. The offensive line is loaded with veterans and could be the team’s strength, and it’ll have to be with an untested trio of running backs trying to add more pop to the ground game.

Defense: Once again, the Eastern Michigan defense was among the worst in America, allowing 454 yards and 44 points per game. The pass defense was bad, the run defense was worse, and there wasn’t any pass rush whatsoever. How poor was the D? The team came up with a total of two picks. Seven starters return and there’s a glimmer of hope for a better season helped by some newcomers. JUCO transfer Justin Cudworth is a decent-looking outside linebacker, and Marlon Pollard comes in from UCLA to take over a starting corner job, but the veterans like tackle Jabar Westerman and safety Willie Williams have to come through and start to produce.

6. Ball State

Offense: After a miserable 2009, the offense was supposed to be far better and far more efficient and effective last year. Instead it was last in the MAC in passing and finished 106h in the nation in total yards. Expect a major change with the coaching staff going with an up-tempo, no-huddle attack – but it’s NOT a spread offense; the coaches are emphatic about that – that can adapt to the situation. The passing game is going to start doing much, much more with the passing game going to be the main mode of transportation thanks to a veteran receiving corps and more expected from second-year quarterback Keith Wenning. The running backs are deep and quick, and they should shine behind an experienced, good line with five players with starting experience back.

Defense: The D might have finished tenth in the MAC in total defense and scoring defense, but it wasn’t all that bad. The pass rush was non-existent and the run defense was soft, and now the hope will be that experience translates into more production. New defensive coordinator Jay Bateman spent the last four years at Elon, and he’s great at putting together top-shelf run defenses. That could be a problem right away with a line that has experience, but not a lot of talent. The secondary should be one of the team’s biggest strengths with safety Sean Baker and corner Jason Pinkston two of the MAC’s better pickoff artists. Middle linebacker Travis Freeman leads an experienced, but smallish corps that’s built like a bunch of safeties, but can move.

EAST
- 2011 Akron Preview | 2011 Bowling Green Preview
- 2011 Buffalo Preview | 2011 Kent State Preview
- 2011 Miami Univ. Preview | 2011 Ohio Preview
- 2011 Temple Preview

WEST
- 2011 Ball State Preview | 2011 Central Michigan Preview
- 2011 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2011 Northern Illinois Preview
- 2011 Toledo Preview | 2011 Western Michigan Preview
 
- 2011 MAC Preview | 2011 MAC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-MAC Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 MAC Schedules & Picks
- 2011 CFN All-MAC West Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 MAC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2011 MAC Thoughts
- 2011 MAC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2010 MAC Preview