2011 MAC Preview - East Lookaheads
Ohio OT Joe Flading
Ohio OT Joe Flading
Posted Aug 9, 2011

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

Preview 2011

MAC Team By Team Looks

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

- 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

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

Predicted Champion: Toledo over Temple

MAC East Predicted Finish

1. Temple

Offense: New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has experience coaching quarterbacks both at Florida and for the Detroit Lions, while head coach Steve Addazio is the former Gator offensive coordinator and knows how to get an attack moving – last year aside. Seven starters return and the potential is there for the Owls to boast the best group of skill players in the MAC, but it won't matter if the massive line doesn't get the starting combination figured out. The offense worked through many starting fives up front last year, but there's tremendous size and lots of experience to rely on. Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown form a terrific 1-2 rushing punch, the tight ends are fantastic, and there's a great combination of size and speed at receiver. Can the quarterback play be better? Transfer Clinton Granger could be the team's X factor, but veteran Mike Gerardi will get his chances to earn back the starting job.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater was a key part of the coaching puzzle after being a major factor in the success at Florida. He loses several major talents in DT Muhammad Wilkerson, FS Jaiquawn Jarrett, and both Elijah and Elisha Joseph off the front seven, but there are just enough good players returning to hope for another strong year. The Owls finished 16th in the nation in both total defense and scoring defense, but it'll be tough to repeat with so much turnover. The run defense should be fine with tremendous bulk up front to allow pass rushing star Adrian Robinson to shine on the outside, while Tahir Whitehead leads a lunchpail linebacking corps that will put up stats, but not too many big plays. The secondary was a nice surprise last year, and it could be again if Deonte Parker, Kevin Kroboth, and Justin Gildea do more at safety.

2. Miami University

Offense: New offensive coordinator John Klacik will be running a relatively basic pro-style attack, but he'll use plenty of different sets. The strength of the team is a passing game that should be among the best in the MAC with two great quarterback options in Zac Dysert and Austin Boucher and some terrific receivers. The problem is a veteran line that needs to get more of a push for a ground game that finished 113th in the nation and did little in pass protection. The offense will get the ball moving through the air and will try to get vertical on the ground, but there might not be the immediate balance that the new coaching staff is hoping for.

Defense: The defense was the reason MU won the 2010 MAC Championship. Out of the blue, the defensive front was phenomenal at getting into the backfield and was strong against the run, and the production should continue with everyone returning on the line and Jerrell Wedge leading a terrific linebacking corps. The secondary is ridiculously small at corner, but very fast, while the safeties are experienced and productive. This might not be the most physical D in the MAC, but Pete Rekstis will have this group flying around. With all the experience returning, if there's a slide, it'll be on the coaches.

3. Ohio

Offense: Thanks to the running quarterbacks, the Ohio running game improved from 106th in the nation in 2009 to 47th last year, but the passing game didn't come through. The offense was balanced, averaging 164 rushing yards per game and 162 passing yards, and it kicked in the production over the second half of the season scoring 30 points or more in seven straight games before struggling late. Now the attack could be even more dangerous thanks to a veteran offensive line with five starters returning and with star WR LaVon Brazill returning from leg and hand injuries. The running backs have to start doing more, with Donte Harden needing to stay healthy, and the quarterback situation has to be settled, but the pieces are there for the nation's 95th ranked offense to be far better.

Defense: The defense wasn't awful, allowing just 353 yards per game, but it was inconsistent. While that might not change too much with just four starters returning, the D gets two huge pieces of the puzzle back from injury in all-star linebacker Noah Keller and safety Gerald Moore. The front four will undergo a wholesale change and needs to find a steady pass rush for the first time in several years, but the terrific linebacking corps will more than pick up the slack against the run. The secondary will get bombed on again by the better passing teams, but there are several good parts to work with including Moore and corner Travis Carrie.

4. Bowling Green

Offense: The offense that was so fantastic and so productive in 2009 sputtered and coughed in a rebuilding 2010. The problem wasn't just that so many key players had to be replaced; it was that the line struggled through injuries. Now the payoff should come with the potential for the line to be far, far better with several young starters to get excited about. The nation's worst running game isn't going to do too much, but there's speed in the backfield to give it a try. The Falcon offense is all about the passing game, and QB Matt Schilz should be terrific after taking his lumps behind a porous line in his first season. WR Kamar Jorden could lead the nation in receptions and should be a mortal lock for 100 catches.

Defense: The defense that was so good a few years ago and had to undergo a major rebuilding job in 2009 didn't improve enough last year. The pass rush was bad, the run D was worse, and the results were disastrous. Experience has to translate into production with a decent tackle rotation needing to make the line stronger and with four starters back for the 4-2-5 alignment in the secondary. Dwayne Woods is one of the MAC's best linebackers and should once again be a statistical superstar, but size is a problem for the corps and too much time will be spent overcompensating for the issues on the line. The defense has to find one thing it can do consistently well and has to stop someone from running the ball for the first time in a few years.

5. Kent State

Offense: The running game was supposed to be night-and-day better last year with a change around in philosophies, but instead things were worse with little consistency on the ground and not enough big plays for the passing game. The new coaching staff will be looking for a little bit of balance and more of a quick tempo for the attack. The experience is there with 11 players with appreciable starting time returning led by the 1-2 receiving tandem of Tyshon Goode and Sam Kirkland as good as any in the conference. Jacquise Terry and Dri Archer are ultra-quick backs working behind a big, veteran line that should be more consistent. The big key to improving the nation's 102nd ranked offense will be the play of QB Spencer Keith, who's in his third year as the starter and needs to start being more of a playmaker.

Defense: Jon Heacock, the pressure is on. The new defensive coordinator has to keep up the production from a defense that finished fourth in the nation against the run and third in tackles for loss. The goal of the KSU defense over the last few years has been to get to the quarterback and be disruptive, and Roosevelt Nix and the defensive front have the talent and experience to continue the production. The back seven needs to replace two key linebackers and both safeties, including key playmakers in Dorian Wood, Brian Lainhart, and Cobrani Mixon, the team's top three tacklers from last year. This will be an aggressive defense that has work to do, but will be fast and athletic.

6. Buffalo

Offense: The idea of the offense in Jeff Quinn's first year was to be very fast, up-tempo, and very frenetic, but the quarterbacks didn't get the memo. The nation's most inefficient passing game allowed defenses to load up against the run, and it showed as the running game averaged 3.1 yards per carry and the running backs scored just one rushing score. This year, the team is loaded with veterans led by one of the MAC's better receiving corps. However, the nation's worst scoring offense won't get much better unless the veteran line can stay healthy to pave the way for the quick backs, while the quarterback play, from either Jerry Davis or Alex Zordich, has to be night-and-day better.

Defense: The UB 3-4 defense turned in a strong season despite getting little help from the offense. The Bulls finished 32nd in the nation in total defense thanks to a loaded secondary, but the team needs to replace all four defensive backs from a strong pass defense. The defensive front seven should be great on the outside with Khalil Mack one of the league's best all-around players and Jaleel Verser a star if he can stay healthy. The front three won't get to the quarterback, except when Steven Means is getting the job done at one end, but it should be good against the run.

7. Akron

Offense: Offensive coordinator John Latina and head coach Rob Ianello, who came to Akron after heading up the Notre Dame attack under Charlie Weis, tried to get the pro-style passing game to work and trying to convert the former spread offense. It didn't work. Akron finished second-to-last in the nation in total offense averaging just 269 yards per game – just a few ahead of New Mexico – and was 118th in the country in scoring averaging a mere 15.58 points per outing. The line play has to be far better, and while the potential is there if the starting five can stay healthy. The running game is a question mark with no experience whatsoever, and the receiving corps has to find a few new targets to replace Jeremy LaFrance and Jalil Carter. Ole Miss transfer Clayton Moore will battle with incumbent starter Patrick Nicely for the quarterback gig, and both of them have to improve one of the nation's most inefficient passing games.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove knows what he's doing, working as the leader for the Nebraska and Wisconsin defenses for more than a decade, and now he has the experience to start doing more with a D that finished 99th in the nation in yards allowed and 106th in scoring defense after changing out of the quirky 3-3-5 alignment. The line has to start getting to the quarterback on a regular basis, but top pass rusher Shawn Lemon is gone and there aren't many sure-thing playmakers who can get into the backfield. Brian Wagner is a special linebacker with MAC Defensive Player of the Year potential, and he's flanked by good veterans who'll put up stats. Three starters return to a secondary that started to come up with picks late last year, but has to prove it can stop anyone who can throw a forward pass.
- 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