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MAC Pre-Spring Preview - What Needs Work?
Buffalo WR Alex Neutz
Buffalo WR Alex Neutz
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 1, 2013


2013 MAC Pre-Spring Preview - What Every MAC Team Needs To Work On.

2013 Pre-Spring Preview   

What To Work On - MAC

 
2013 MAC Pre-Spring Preview
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On  
- MAC East Schedule Breakdown
- MAC West Schedule Breakdown
- MAC Composite Schedule Breakdown
- 2013 MAC Pre-Preseason Rankings 
 
EAST


Akron
Start: April 2 Spring Game: April 27

The defense has to tighten up and come up with more key plays. Stunningly, for a defense so bad, coming up with third down stops wasn’t much of a problem, but there were almost no game-changing moments with a mere five interceptions and just three recovered fumbles over the final eight games. The offense will still be a work in progress, but to start improving on the 1-11 record the secondary that got torched on too many big plays has to give quarterbacks something to worry about.

Bowling Green
Start: March 13 Spring Game: April 12

The passing game has to be more efficient and effective. Matt Schilz regressed after a terrific sophomore season throwing for almost 500 fewer yards and 14 touchdown passes after bombing for 28 in 2011. With three years of starting time under his belt, he knows what he’s doing and is one of the team’s leaders. With the Falcon defense so strong, Schilz doesn’t have to take any unnecessary chances and doesn’t have to bomb away, but he needs to be able to hit on his downfield passes on a regular basis and has to cut down on his interceptions with 39 for his career and 12 last season including six in the final two MAC games.

Buffalo
Start: March 26 Spring Game: April 20

The special teams need to be night and day better. The punting game was abysmal averaging a horrendous 32.75 yards per try in Tyler Grassman’s true freshman season, while the punt and kickoff returns games were non-existent. On the plus side, kicker Patrick Clarke had a good year with a few clutch field goals, but the coverage team was a disaster. For a team with so many concerns getting the offense moving, there’s no room to struggle in the third phase.

Kent State
Start: April 2, Spring Game: April 27

The secondary has to be tighter. It didn’t give up a ton of huge plays on a regular basis, but it was among the worst in the MAC in yards allowed giving up 272 per game and 200 or more in each of the last eight outings. While the pass defense gave up 27 scores, it made up for it with 23 picks and has to prove it can keep on ball hawking. Making things worse is the loss of corners Sidney Saulter and Norman Wolfe along with free safety Leon Green. Fortunately, playmaking strong safety Luke Wollet returns.

Massachusetts

Scoring, scoring, scoring. The Minutemen need to improve in just about every area, with miles to go on defense and plenty of concerns on offense, but more than anything else the attack has to find ways to score after finishing last in the nation averaging just 12.67 per game – the second-worst team, Idaho, averaged just 15.83. It all starts with a running game that averaged a mere 92 yards per outing. Defensively, the front line has to start getting to the quarterback on a regular basis after coming up with a paltry 12 sacks.

Miami University
Start: March 25, Spring Game: April 26

The run defense has to improve. The ground game might always be an issue in a passing offense, but the bigger problem as the year went on was a run defense that got ripped up for 35 rushing scores and almost 3,000 yards. Buffalo was the only team to run for fewer than two scores against the MU D that generated more than one sack in just three games. Both starting defensive ends are gone with Jason Semmes and Luke Kelly needing to be replaced.

Ohio
Start: March 13, Spring Game: April 13

The offensive line has to keep Tyler Tettleton upright. He’s a good runner and takes several sacks, but it wasn’t helped that the line got him popped on a regular basis. The punting game needs to be far better statistically after a rough season from Grant Venham, who averaged 39.5 yards per kick. Defensively, it would be nice to get off the field faster after giving up way too many third down conversions, allowing teams to hit on 44% of their chances.

WEST


Ball State
Start: March 26 Spring Game: April 20

Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. The offense will be terrific and should be among the best in the MAC, but the games were way too tight last season because the defense struggled to come up with regular stops. It’ll all starts up front for a run defense that was entirely too soft and needs to find pass rushers and playmakers after averaging a pathetic four tackles for loss per game. The ends, Nick Miles, Jonathan Newsome and Michael Ayers, have to step up their respective games and they have to be far more aggressive. This is one of the MAC’s key teams in the title chase, but it needs to be more complete.

Central Michigan
Start: March 12 Spring Game: April 13

The defensive front has to make a play behind the line of scrimmage. Losing both starting defensive ends might not be the end of the world considering the Chippewas finished second-to-last in the nation in tackles for loss and couldn’t generate any semblance of a pass rush. The secondary didn’t struggle too much, but it could’ve used some more help. This spring, it’ll be vital to come up with a few new wrinkles and get more creative, and fortunately, the veteran linebackers are in place to utilize more.

Eastern Michigan
Start: March 12, Spring Game: TBD

The defensive line has to be better and stronger after allowing a nation-worst 267 rushing yards per game and finishing next-to-last in sacks. Kalonju Kashama is back at one end but it’ll be up to juniors Cy Maughmer and Travis Linser in the interior to raise their level of play. With a brand new set of starting linebackers, the line has to do all the heavy lifting until the other parts of the defensive puzzle get in place. Giving up 34 rushing scores was a major step back after allowing just 12 in 2011.

Northern Illinois
Start: March 20, Spring Game: April 13

The pass defense is going to have to tight up against the stronger teams. Florida State’s E.J. Manuel took target practice in the Orange Bowl, and Toledo, Central Michigan, Ball State and Western Michigan had few problems pushing the ball deep. The overall numbers weren’t bad, but it helped to have Army, UMass, Eastern Michigan, Kansas and other passing-challenged teams to deal with. With so much defensive turnover, it might take a little while to tighten up with Iowa and Purdue up in September.

Toledo
Start: March 14, Spring Game: April 12

The defensive front has to start getting behind the line. The secondary gave up 200 yards or more in every game, and while it came up with 17 picks, it also gave up two touchdowns or more five times. Five of the 24 sacks came against Coastal Carolina and four came against Akron. When the Rockets weren’t hitting the quarterback, the secondary was ripped to shreds. There won’t be much to do on offense, but the line could stand to be a bit better in pass protection.

Western Michigan
Start: March 19, Spring Game: April 20

Last year’s 4-8 team lost four games that could’ve easily swung the other way. To get those wins, the Broncos have to improve in turnover margin. The quarterbacks came up with a steady stream of picks, giving away 21, to go along with the team’s ten fumbles including three against Eastern Illinois and three more in the loss to Kent State. The bigger issue was a defense that failed to come up with enough big plays with no interceptions over the final four games and just eight on the year, while recovering a mere nine of the 23 opposition fumbles.
 
2013 MAC Pre-Spring Preview
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On  
- MAC East Schedule Breakdown
- MAC West Schedule Breakdown
- MAC Composite Schedule Breakdown
- 2013 MAC Pre-Preseason Rankings