2007 CFN MAC Preview
Predictions & Quick Team Previews
Miami Univ. |
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Central Michigan |
Northern Illinois |
2007 CFN MAC Preview
CFN All-MAC Team &
Top 30 Players
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Prediction: Central Michigan over Miami University
Conf. record: 6-1
QB Mike Kokal,
all about the offensive line. The front five was hit by injuries
last season and the whole machine broke down with no running
game, an obscene amount of sacks allowed, and not enough of a passing
game. Now the line is experienced with decent depth, the running
backs should be solid as long as Brandon Murphy is over his
ankle problems, and Mike Kokal has the potential to be the MAC's
most effective all-around quarterback. And then there's the
receiving corps. With Ryne Robinson gone, there's no proven
number one receiver, but there's a boatload of speed on the
outside in Dustin Woods and Armand Robinson. While they'll make
big plays, someone has to become a go-to guy.
huge concerns about the defense going into last season with only two
returning starters, but the lumps taken against the run and against way
too many mediocre offenses should pay off in a return to the days when
MU had one of the MAC's best defenses. While just six starters are back,
there are more than enough promising options at several positions to
create good overall competition and have more depth than there's been in
a long time. The pass rush needs to be better with Craig Mester needing
to get back to form to help out junior end Joe Coniglio. Joey Hudson and
Clayton Mullins form one of the MAC's best 1-2 linebacking punches,
while the secondary should be one of the team's strengths led by speedy
corner Jerrid Gaines and veteran safety Robbie Wilson.
Conf. record: 5-3
You know the fastball is coming, but
can you hit it? Ohio will try to add more passing to the attack,
but this is a running team that'll pound away with Kalvin McRae
behind a good, though not as good as last year, offensive line.
The attack has to be more versatile after being stuck in the mud
against the good teams on the schedule, and that's where new
starting quarterback Brad Bower comes in. He'll be looking to
add more passing to the mix, but he doesn't have a great
receiving corps to work with. The tight ends will get more
involved this year to try to keep things moving.
The defense made a night-and-day
improvement from 2005, and should be among the best in the MAC
again if replacements can be found for the three star
linebackers and All-MAC corner T.J. Wright. The defensive line
is big and active, and it needs to be stronger against the run.
Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with All-MAC end
Jameson Hartke leading the way. The safeties will be fantastic
leading a deep and talented group. It's all up to the
linebackers, who have talent, but are relatively inexperienced
and haven't stayed healthy.
Conf. record: 3-5
OT Chris Kemme, Jr.
LB Brion Stokes, Sr.
The offense was a major disappointment last season with
almost no production from a veteran offensive line and too much
of a reliance on the passing game. Now the running game, with a
good 1-2 punch of Dennis Kennedy and Andre Walker, should
provide more pop, but the line, with four new starters, has
to be far better. The quarterback situation will be unsettled
going into the fall with Carlton Jackson, Chris Jaquemain, and
Sean Hakes all in the race. The receiving corps is fast and
experienced, and now everyone has to play beyond their talent
level to help out whoever the new passer will be.
The 3-3-5 defense of Jim Fleming was excellent last year,
and it should be even better with eight starters returning and the right
pieces in place. To run this type of defense, you need big linemen.
Check. The Zips have 300-pounders in a rotation at tackle and big size
at the other two spots. You need playmaking linebackers. Check. Three
starters return with excellent depth to rotate in. You also need a
secondary to hold its own. Not a problem. Four starters return in the
back five led by veteran corners Reggie Corner and Davanzo Tate.
Conf. record: 3-5
C Kory Lichtensteiger, Sr.
LB Erique Dozier, Jr.
Offense: The offense went from being
all-pass, no-run in 2005 to being a running team last year
thanks to mobile quarterbacks in Anthony Turner, and early on,
Freddie Barnes. Now there's a battle between Turner and Tyler
Sheehan for the starting job with the hopes of balancing things
out. The backfield should be excellent with the addition of JUCO
transfer Eric Ransom to go along with power of Chris Bullock and
Dan Macon. All-star center Kory Lichtensteiger leads a good
line that should get better and better as the year goes on. The
one area of development will be receiver with some deep threats
needing to emerge to go along with mid-range possession-target
Bowling Green might not always be a
brick wall on defense, but it will do whatever it can to make
plays all over the field. Last year this was a break-but-don't
bend defense giving up points, but not yards. Now it needs to
stiffen. With an emphasis on speed and quickness, the front
seven will be flying around looking to get into the backfield to
dictate the tempo, while the solid secondary will benefit. There
might be problems against the better power running teams with a
new set of tackles and smallish linebacking corps, but that'll
be offset by the big plays ... at least that's the hope.
Conf. record: 3-5
QB Julian Edelman, Jr.
CB Jack Williams, Sr.
The Kent State offense was all pass,
no run in 2005 (and it was really no run). It was all
run, little pass in 2006. Now the ground game should be even
stronger with the 1-2 rushing punch of Eugene Jarvis and Greg
Keys along with the mobility of QB Julian Edelman. Four starters
return to a line that needs to be better in pass protection, and
a go-to receiver has to emerge with the loss of WR Najah Pruden.
In the end, it'll all come down to Edelman. If he's playing
well, the offense will shine.
quietly, Kent State had one of the MAC's best defenses last
season getting into the backfield, and to the quarterback, on a
regular basis, while getting a phenomenal statistical season out
of the secondary. CB Jack Williams and SS Fritz Jacques are good
defenders to build around, but the rest of the secondary is a
question mark. The front seven, in KSU's 3-4, should be
excellent led by tackle Colin Ferrell and the Buck, the hybrid
of end and linebacker, Kevin Hogan, should be one of the MAC's
top pass rushing terrors. The D won't be as good as last year,
but it won't be bad.
Conf. record: 2-6
C Alex Derenthal, Jr.
DE Brian Sanford, Soph.
Offense: There was a little bit of improvement; the
offense averaged 10.92 points per game after averaging 9.73 in 2005.
There's plenty of experience and a major infusion of talent at running
back and receiver, but can any of them play? The attack will rely on
several true freshmen all over the place while praying for a major,
major improvement on the offensive line. The quarterback situation
is solid with Adam DiMichele and Vaughn Charlton each good enough to
start after seeing plenty of time last season. Whatever happens, the
offense will average more than a nation's worst 215.67 yards per game.
The good: The D improved giving up nine fewer yards and
four fewer points per game than in 2005. The bad: The Owls were 117th in
the nation in total defense and 118th in scoring D. The 2008 version
should be tremendous once all the freshmen and sophomores are crusty
veterans, but for now, there's good competition at almost every spot
with no sure-thing starter. The defensive line should be far better with
an instant infusion of talent, while the back seven has potential,
especially at linebacker, to make a big jump in production. It would be
nice if a true shut-down corner could quickly emerge with the hope that
JUCO transfer Tommie Williams will be that guy. Don't expect miracles,
but the overall numbers should improve.
Conf. record: 1-7
RB James Starks, Soph.
DE Trevor Scott, Sr.
The overall offensive production improved from ten points per game to 18.33. Now the attack has to be more
consistent and explosive, and that all comes from the offensive line.
It's a big, experienced line that has to give the promising skill
players a chance to do their thing. UB can win with QB Drew Willy and RB
James Starks, but they haven't had any chance to show what they can do
with no time or room to work. Naaman Roosevelt has to be used somewhere.
If he's not the starting quarterback, he'll provide a boost to a
mediocre receiving corps.
Last year was a big transition year
with several young players getting time as the scheme was
switched from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3. Size is sacrificed for speed
almost everyone, but there are big backups at tackle. Now the
production against the run has to be better. Getting into the
backfield won't be an issue as UB could be among the MAC's
leaders in sacks and tackles for loss led by senior Trevor Scott
on the end. The secondary has the potential to be far better if
safeties Kareem Byrom and Mike Newton, along with rising corner
Kendric Hawkins, can spend all their time trying to make plays
against the pass instead of always having to deal with the run.
Conf. record: 6-1
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.
Statistically, the defense struggled
throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of
the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's
D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend
leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good
rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike
Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last
year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with
promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense,
but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Conf. record: 6-2
OT John Greco,
Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the
production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left
tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five
should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and
Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense
should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and
Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving
corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could
quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen
Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that
needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard
Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Defensive coordinator Tim Rose has done a good job over
the last two years using a flexible 3-4 alignment that
occasionally morphs into a 4-2-5. Now it has to be better after
getting bombed on by everyone over the first half of last year
and only produced once the schedule lightened up. Seven starters
return along with plenty of depth, especially up front, and now
there have to be more big plays and more pressure into the
backfield. Greg Hay and Keith Forestal form a strong 1-2
linebacking punch, while the safety tandem of Tyrrell Herbert
and Barry Church is among the best in the MAC.
Conf. record: 5-2
QB Tim Hiller, Soph.
DT Nick Varcadipane, Jr.
The parts are there, and now the
production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie
Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in
the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the
world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and
Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one
can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it
needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more
prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can
play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard
back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch.
Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as
average as it was last year.
It's not a big D, but it's very
quick, very disruptive, and very good. After a big year, the
MAC's number one defense gets eight starters back. The line will
get in the backfield early and often with the return of Zach
Davidson and big-play tackles Nick Varcadipane and Cory Flom.
The secondary is loaded with speed and experience with all four
starters returning after helping the D pick off 24 passes. The
big concern is at outside linebacker after losing Ameer Ismail
and Paul Tithof, but Austin Pritchard is a rising star and
Dustin Duclo is good in the middle.
Conf. record: 4-3
QB Nate Davis, Soph.
LB Wendell Brown, Sr.
The offense grew
into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star
passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman
season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have
more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by
tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good
number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with
the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.
Defense: Awful for the last two seasons, the defense started to
get a little better as last year went on and should make even bigger
strides with plenty of experience returning. Six starters are back, and
most of the new starters have seen enough time to be ready to hit the
ground running. The 3-4 is good at getting into the backfield, but there
haven’t been enough sacks and not nearly enough consistent production
against power running teams. The pass defense has been non-existent for
the last two seasons. Corners Trey Lewis and Trey Buice have been
around, and can hit, but if they don't cover better, the Cardinals won't
be able to take the next step.
Conf. record: 4-3
WR Britt Davis, Jr.
DE Larry English, Jr.
coordinator Roy Wittke will put his stamp on the attack early on with
more passing plays, more variety, and more funky motions and formations.
That'll all mean more from the passing game, and while it wasn't ignored
last year, it was mostly used when Garrett Wolfe was either tired or
shut down. Six starters return, but this is still a young group with
only two seniors on the depth chart. The line was a problem this spring,
but it's very big with the potential to be great ... next year. There
will be a steady rotation of backs, led mostly by Montell Clanton and
Justin Anderson, and more passes spread around, with Britt Davis the
number one target. Dan Nicholson has to be a steady leader of the show.
Defense: The NIU defense is steady with several good, sound
players, but for all the quickness and all the athleticism, there
weren't nearly enough big plays, not enough production from the
secondary, and a good, but not great, year against the run. While the
corners will be better, expect more of the same from the front seven;
for good and bad. End Larry English and tackle Craig Rusch will be
regulars in the backfield. This won't be the nation's 90th ranked
defense again, and it'll do a good job of bending, but not breaking.
Conf. record: 1-7
QB Andy Schmitt, Soph.
LB Daniel Holtzclaw, Jr.
offensive coordinator Scott Ispohording has his work cut out for him
despite getting seven starters back along with a ton of experienced
depth. The supposed wide-open offense was awful with no ground game from
the running backs and even less of a passing attack with quarterbacks
Andy Schmitt and Tyler Jones basically running, running and running some
more. The line should be better with three returning starters and a
decent interior, but the offense won't go anywhere unless Pierre Walker,
or possible Jones, turns into a reliable tailback. The loss of top
receiver Eric Deslauriers means the passing game will be spread out
among several options with the hope for former quarterback Dontayo Gage
to turn into a true number one.
Defense: EMU's defense hasn't been productive in years, but if
there's not a major improvement this year with ten starters returning
along with a slew of experienced depth, it might never happen. Junior
Daniel Holtzclaw is a superstar middle linebacker who'll be the one the
rest of the defense revolves around. Tackles Jason Jones and Josh Hunt
can't stop the run, but they're regulars in opposing backfields. As long
as the corners and ends start to produce, and the experience and
quickness at all spots makes up for a general lack of size, things
should be better after finishing 116th in the nation against run and
98th in total defense.