Preview 2007 -
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What you need to know:
Thanks to the emergence of
quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to
ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The
passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not
always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home
run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially
Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less
running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for
LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets.
The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key
starters, but it'll be fine.
Passing: Dan LeFevour
247-388, 3,031 yds, 26 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Ontario Sneed
135 carries, 764 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Bryan Anderson
73 catches, 867 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Dan LeFevour
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OT
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Justin Hoskins
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Andrew Hartline
Top three all-star candidates: 1) LeFevour, 2) RB Ontario
Sneed, 3) WR Bryan Anderson
Strength of the offense: Skill positions
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth
Projected Starter: Early in the opening game of the year
against Boston College, now-sophomore Dan LeFevour had to
step in. All he did was come this close to beating the
Eagles with a 221-yard passing day with 72 rushing yards and two
scores, and then he went on to lead the team to the MAC title
with 3,031 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes, 521 rushing yards
and seven scores. He's 6-3, 226-pounds and an effective runner
when he gets a lane to take off. While he threw ten
interceptions, few turned out to be killers. Not afraid to take
chances, he'll try a few throws here and there he probably
shouldn't make, but he's almost always able to pull them off.
Now he'll be the league's signature star going into the season.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Brian Brunner
was the starter going into last year, suffered a concussion
right off the bat against BC, and the rest is history. A good
all-around quarterbacks with 6-3, 241-pound size, good mobility,
and a nice arm, he's more than just a capable backup; he could
step in and lead the team to wins if he had to. He saw a little
bit of work throughout last year completing 25 of 40 passes for
315 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 82 yards and two
Sophomore Duane Brooks is a smallish quarterback compared
to LeFevour and Brunner, but he's a fast runner with a decent
arm. He saw time in ten games, mostly on special teams, and ran
for 74 yards. He struggled with his accuracy. If he's in, it's
Watch Out For ... LeFevour to run less. While he's
not going to become a pure pocket passer, the good running backs
will handle most of the workload, while LeFevour's job will be
to make the passing game more dangerous and to spread it around
Strength: The reserves. Not only is LeFevour an All-MAC star,
but the team could be a champion again with Brunner at the helm.
Weakness: Not much. Brunner is unproven for a long stretch
having only produced in short stints. That's nitpicking.
Outlook: LeFevour is only going to get better now
that he's able to throw the ball more and has a good receiving
corps to throw to. With Brunner only a junior, the situation
will be strong for the next few years.
Projected Starter: It took a while for junior Ontario
Sneed to get going last year, and he was out of the picture
for a late-season stretch failing to get ten carries in four
straight November games, but he showed what he could do with
minimal work, tearing off 130 yards and a touchdown on nine
carries against Ohio in the MAC title game. Even at 5-11 and 203
pounds, he was less of a workhorse than he was as a freshman
having problems staying healthy, but he's still a home run
hitter and a tremendous receiver finishing third on the team
with 52 catches for 415 yards and seven scores.
Projected Top Reserves: The excitement this spring
was over Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, a quick 5-10
and 195-pound junior who was great throughout spring showing the
skills to potentially challenge Sneed for the starting job. As
good as he was, he'll have to battle with sophomore Marcel
Archer for the number two spot. The team's third leading
rusher last season, the 5-11, 193-pound slasher ran for 335
yards and seven scores highlighted by a three score day against
Watch Out For ... Hoskins. He might not take over
for Sneed, but he showed this spring that he could do it if
Strength: Quickness. Sneed, Hoskins and Archer can all zip in
and out, and each has a nice burst when they get the ball in
open space. Sneed is gone with a little bit of room to move.
Weakness: Power. Sneed is big enough to be a bit of a powerback,
but he's not a between-the-tackles runner. Archer and Hoskins
aren't small, but they're better getting to the outside.
Outlook: With the emergence of Hoskins, there
should be an excellent three man rotation that'll take the
running game away from the quarterbacks and keep it in the
backfield. Everyone will be kept fresh, everyone will catch the
ball, and everyone will be involved.
Projected Starters: Bryan Anderson was supposed to
be a part of the offense as a redshirt freshman, but no one
could've seen him coming up with an All-MAC 73-catch, 867-yard,
five touchdown season. While he's 6-5 and 194 pounds, with 4.5
speed, he's not just a deep threat. He's great at making catches
all over the field and isn't afraid to go across the middle. Now
he has to become more of a scorer having gotten in the end zone
just twice, with both touchdowns coming against Buffalo, over
the final eight games.
Taking over on the X for Obed Cetoute will be senior
Justin Gardner, who made 36 catches for 471 yards and five
touchdowns as a consistent fourth receiver. Now the former
walk-on will start on the X, where he'll be expected to be a
big-play target with all the attention being paid to Anderson.
With Anderson moving from the inside Z to the outside W,
redshirt freshman Kito Poblah will take over the opening.
A solid all-around athlete, he should use his 6-2, 196-pound
frame to make several big plays across the middle. He won't be
Anderson, but he'll put up several big plays.
Sophomore Sam Williams, a former linebacker, is an
emerging receiver, but he only caught ten passes for 120 yards.
The offense mostly used four-wide sets last year, so Williams
didn't get any starting nods after the middle of the year. At
6-4 and 218 pounds, he's a tall, tough, fast target who should
be more of a factor in the offense this year.
Projected Top Reserves: While the starters were
set coming out of spring ball, that could quickly change this
fall. Senior Jemmy Jasmin is one of the team's fastest
receivers, but he hasn't been able to break out. While he can
move, he's not all that big at only 5-8 and 171 pounds and has a
hard time holding up. A knee injury has limited him over the
course of his career, but he made several big plays this spring
and should be a decent backup behind Anderson.
Another rising star out of spring ball was junior Joe
Bockheim, a 6-2, 197-pound deep threat who ripped up the
secondary in the spring game with two touchdowns. With his size
and athleticism, he should finally become part of the offense
behind Gardner on the X.
Behind Williams at tight end will be junior Andre Moore,
a former quarterback who's 6-2 and 222 pounds with good speed.
He has the potential to grow into a top receiver, but he hasn't
come up with a catch yet.
Watch Out For ... more from the backups. Anderson,
Damien Linson and Cetoute were tough to get off the field. This
year, Jasmin, Bockheim, and redshirt freshmen Matt Torres will
find their way on the field more than last years reserves.
Strength: Anderson and Gardner. Anderson is a true number one
who can take all the heat off the rest of the receiving corps,
while Gardner should blossom into the number two role Linson
held last year.
Weakness: Deep targets. Anderson can make the big play, but the
home runs were made last year by Linson and Cetoute. Gardner has
deep threat potential, but someone else has to emerge for the
passing game to take off like it's supposed to.
Outlook: The passing game will be the
bread-and-butter of an attack that finished 22nd in the nation
last year, and this corps will get the job done. The emergence
of Jasmin and Bockheim this spring upgrades a corps that was
already going to be good with the 1-2 punch of Anderson and
Projected Starters: Three starters return to the line, but
there's a big hole at left tackle with the departure of Joe Staley to
the NFL. 6-5, 297-pound junior Andrew Hartline will move over
from the right side, where he's been good for the last two seasons
earning All-MAC honors last year. While he's not even remotely at
Staley's level, he's a good all-around blocker who can do a little of
everything well with his run blocking a major strength.
With Hartline moving over, 6-4, 285-pound junior Greg Wojt takes
over at right tackle after seeing a little time in the rotation. A good
athlete, he should grow into a good pass protector now that he has the
full-time job. He might not be huge, but he's physical.
Outside of the loss of Staley, the other big loss is at center, where
All-MAC performer Drew Mormino is off in Miami Dolphins' camp. 6-3,
280-pound redshirt freshman Colin Miller will take over after
bulking up over the last year. Extremely strong, he should be a mauler
in the middle.
There aren't any issues with either of the guards, where seniors Eric
Tunney and Mike Decker return after good years. Decker
started most of the year at left guard before filling in for Mormino at
center in the bowl game. At 6-1 and 286 pounds, he's not huge, but he's
active, athletic, and has the versatility to move around where needed
inside. Tunney, a 6-3, 291-pound former defensive tackle, first got a
little bit of work at center after making the move over to the offensive
side, then he became a rock at guard over the last two years. Starting
out on the left side as a sophomore, he started every game at right
guard last year.
Projected Top Reserves: At 6-6 and 301 pounds,
junior Andrew Cribbs is a big, strong reserve who'll play a bit
at left tackle. He's been a key backup on both sides and now should play
an even bigger role in the rotation to keep Hartline fresh.
The backup guard options are bigger than the starters, with 6-5,
304-pound senior Michael Raffaeli playing behind Decker on the
left side and 318-pound redshirt freshman Jeff Maddux playing
behind Tunney on the right. Each should be great against the run when
they're in, but neither one is as close to athletic as the ones.
Watch Out For ... a dip in the overall production.
You don't lose two NFLers like Staley and Mormino and get better.
However, there's still ...
Strength: The three returning starters. Decker and Tunney
might not be all-stars, but they're plenty good and nice pieces to
revolve around. Tunney is an all-star and a top blocker to work behind.
Weakness: Depth. There are nice prospects across the board, but
there aren't as many battles for spots as you might think. The reserves
are big, but there's a big drop-off.
Outlook: The line wasn't quite as strong as you
might think it would be considering it had three All-MAC performers and
an NFL first round draft pick in Staley. Part of the reason was having a
new quarterback like LeFevour who ran a lot and took 214 yards in sacks.
The line will be great as long as Wojt is great right away and Miller
can hold his own in the middle. If Miller has problems, then Decker has
to move over and the guard situation will be up in the air.