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2007 Central Michigan Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 18, 2007


Central Michigan and Dan LeFevour are the favorites to win the title again, and could give teams like Purdue and Clemson a nightmare of a time. The defending MAC champions might be breaking in a new head coach, but they'll still be dangerous.

Central Michigan Chippewas

Preview 2007


By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 CMU Offense Preview | 2007 CMU Defense Preview
-
2007 CMU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Central Michigan Preview 

Central Michigan was knocking on the door of doing some really big things under Brian Kelly, and then the program kicked it in winning the MAC title with a dominant season thanks to an explosive, creative offense led by freshman quarterback Dan LeFevour while the defense was more than solid when it had to be.   

Now Kelly’s gone to Cincinnati and Butch Jones, an assistant from West Virginia and former CMU offensive coordinator, comes in to take over the MAC’s best team in an attempt to keep the momentum rolling with his version of the spread offense.  

Head coach: Butch Jones
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 18, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best CMU Players
1.
QB Dan LeFevour, Soph.
2. RB Ontario Sneed, Jr.
3. WR Bryan Anderson, Soph.
4. DT Steven Friend, Sr.
5. OT Andrew Hartline, Jr.
6. LB Red Keith, Sr.
7. P Tony Mikulec, Sr.
8. SS Curtis Cutts, Sr.
9. FS Calvin Hisson, Soph.
10. OG Eric Tunney, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4

Sept. 1

at Kansas

Sept. 8

Toledo

Sept. 15

at Purdue

Sept. 22

North Dakota State

Sept. 29

Northern Illinois

Oct. 6

at Ball State

Oct. 13

Army

Oct. 20

at Clemson

Oct. 27

at Kent State

Nov. 6

at Western Michigan

Nov. 17

Eastern Michigan

Nov. 23

at Akron

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-7
2006 Record:
10-4
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 Boston College L 31-24
9/9 at Michigan L 41-17
9/16 Akron W 24-21
9/23 at East Mich W 24-17 OT
9/30 at Kentucky L 45-36
10/7 at Toledo W 42-20
10/14 Ball State W 18-7
10/19 Bowling Green W 31-14
11/4 at Temple W 42-26
11/10 Western Mich W 31-7
11/17 at No. Illinois L 31-10
11/24 at Buffalo W 55-28
11/30 MAC Championship
Ohio W 31-10
12/26 Motor City Bowl
Middle Tenn. W 13-14

 However, LeFevour isn’t a normal spread quarterback. While he can run, his emergence as a passer, which started after the season’s first play from scrimmage when starter Brian Brunner got knocked out against Boston College, was the difference in the championship season. He has all the throws in the book and isn’t afraid to take his shots down the field. He’ll have the weapons to keep firing to go along with the talent in the backfield to hand off to.

With a rushing punch of Ontario Sneed and Marcel Archer, along with Notre Dame transfer, Justin Hopkins, top receiver Bryan Anderson returning, and a decent offensive line, even without tackle Joe Staley, there’s no reason to expect anything less than another title.

The secondary could stand to be tighter, getting to the quarterback will be a bit tougher without Dan Bazuin, and the return game could use a bit of an upgrade, but those are all fixable if everything else is going right. LeFevour and Jones will be good enough to make sure the offense makes up for any of the team’s shortcomings. Which mean the spotlight is now squarely on Jones.

Jones knows the school, he knows the offense, and he knows what it takes to put together a winning program after being tutored by Rich Rodriguez. Now he has an almost no-win situation of winning the MAC championship or the season will be seen as a failure. The team is that good, even with its head man in Cincinnati.
 
What to watch for on offense: More of the same. LeFevour was tremendous over the second half of last year showing a great command of the offense, and now he’ll likely run a little bit more (after gaining 521 yards and seven touchdowns last year) even though the backs are good enough to carry the load. Jones coached receivers at West Virginia and won’t be afraid to make sure LeFevour gets the ball in the hands of his weapons to avoid taking too many big shots.

What to watch for on defense: Improvement in the secondary. All the defense has to do is not stink it up and the team will be fine, and this one should at least be average.  A major question mark throughout last year, the defensive backs should be a strength if corner Josh Gordy and free safety Calvin Hissong keep improving. Finding defensive ends to replace Bazuin and Mike Ogle will be a major problem, but the tackles should be excellent.

The team will be far better if … someone can return a kick. The Chippewas averaged a mere 5.33 yards per punt return and 18.79 yards on kick returns. The returners had bad years, but the blocking wasn’t quite helping the cause. The kicking game should be excellent, so if Jones and his staff can get a little more pop out of the returns, the special teams will be a plus.

The Schedule: If the defending MAC champions are going to repeat, they’re going to have a tough road to do it, literally. The Chippewas have to go on the road for four of the final five games, with the one home game the easiest of the bunch against Eastern Michigan. The end, along with only playing seven conference games, might mean they have to own the first half of the season, especially against MAC teams getting Toledo, and Northern Illinois at home.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Dan LeFevour. After generating a big buzz in off-season practices, LeFevour took over early on last year and became a star, playing like a seasoned veteran, leading the team to the MAC title. Now he'll be asked to throw more, run less, and win a second straight championship.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Steven Friend. Playing next to Dan Bazuin, Friend never quite got all the attention he deserved, even though he earned second-team All-MAC honors. With good size at 6-2 and 294 pounds, and tremendous quickness, he can do it all. He'll be the star on a defense that should be even better than last year's title winning group.

Key player to a successful season: Junior OT Greg Wojt and redshirt freshman C Colin Miller. Wojt replaces Andrew Hartline, who moved from the right side to the left to replace NFL first round draft pick, Joe Staley. Miller is stepping in at center to replace all-star Drew Mormino, but if he struggles, Mike Decker might move over from guard and throw the entire line off. Wojt has to hold his own and has to give LeFevour time to operate.

The season will be a success if ... CMU wins the MAC title again. With a tough non-conference schedule facing Kansas, Purdue and Clemson on the road, a big record isn’t as important as coming up with another good conference season. It’ll take a few key wins on the road, but the team is good enough to do it.

Key game: Nov. 6 at Western Michigan. This game decided the MAC West last year and could go a long way to doing it again. The Chippewas will have already faced Northern Illinois and Toledo at home, the two man contenders for the division crown, so if all goes well, a win over the Broncos could seal a second straight trip to the title game.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Interception return average: Central Michigan 20.1 – Opponents 8.5
- Field goals: Central Michigan 12 of 20 – Opponents 7 of 14
- First quarter scoring: Central Michigan 93 – Opponents 66

  

Related Stories
2007 Central Michigan Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 18, 2007
2007 Central Michigan Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 18, 2007
2007 Central Michigan - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 18, 2007








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