2007 Temple Owls

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Temple Owls Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

Temple Owls

Recap: A laughingstock no more, Temple won four games in its first year in the MAC, or as many as the program had won in its previous four years combined.  Finally playing in a league that better matches their talent level, the Owls rebounded from an 0-5 start to go 4-3, including the school's first three-game winning streak since 1990.  While the offense was hit-or-miss, the defense came a long way after September, leading the MAC in total defense and allowing an average of just 19 points over the final seven games.               

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Adam DiMichele

Defensive Player of the Year: S Dominique Harris 

Biggest Surprise: The defense.  While very young and not so big, the Owl D showed great range and quickness over the final two months of the season.  Names, such as Junior Galette, Andre Neblett, and Amara Kamara are unfamiliar to most, but they could be household names in MAC circles as early as next fall.      

Biggest Disappointment: Temple beat Connecticut on Sept. 15.  The refs, however, saw it differently.  Although WR Bruce Francis clearly tapped one foot in the end zone for the apparent winning score with 40 seconds left, the Big East replay official refused to reverse the call, denying the Owls a chance at picking off a Big East opponent.       

Looking Ahead: Look out, MAC.  Temple has some momentum and a young head coach that was pursued in December for the opening at UCLA.  Oh, and that team which showed so much progress in 2007 did so with just one scholarship senior on the entire roster.

- 2007 Temple Preview
- 2006 Temple Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10
2007 Results: 4-

Aug. 31 Navy L 30-19
Sept. 8
Buffalo L 42-7
Sept. 15 at Conn. L 22-17
Sept. 22 at Bo Green L 48-35
Sept. 29 at Army L 37-21
Oct. 6
No Illinois W 16-15
Oct. 13 at Akron W 24-20
Oct. 20
Miami Univ. W 24-17
Nov. 2 at Ohio L 23-7
Nov. 10
Penn State L 31-0
Nov. 17 Kent State W 24-14
Nov. 24 at Western Mich L 17-3

Nov. 24
Western Michigan 16 ... Temple 3
It took a while for Western Michigan to wake up, but a five-yard Branden Ledbetter touchdown catch in the second quarter would be all the points needed. The Temple offense gained a mere 146 yards and managed just three points on a second quarter Jake Brownell field goal. The Broncos put the game away with a one yard Mark Bonds touchdown run and a 33-yard Chris Kelly field goal in the third.
Player of the game: Western Michigan RB Mark Bonds ran 24 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for 13 yards.
Stat Leaders: Temple - Passing: Vaughn Charlton, 6-25, 92 yds
Rushing: Jason Harper, 9-40. Receiving: Jason Harper, 2-44
Western Michigan - Passing: Tim Hiller, 24-39, 276 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Mark Bonds, 24-105, 1 TD. Receiving: Herb Martin, 7-100

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... A week after playing so well against Kent State, QB Vaughn Charlton was awful against Western Michigan. While he has the potential to challenge for the starting job next year, accuracy will be his key. He has to be able to make the easy throws to keep the offense moving, and he has to show off a little more of his mobility. With four wins, this was a strong building block of a season for the young team, and now the expectations will be high going into next year.

Nov. 17
Temple 24 ... Kent State 14
Temple held Kent State to 124 yards of total offense while getting four Jake Brownell field goals and a nine-yard Jason Harper touchdown run for the team's fourth win of the year. KSU took a 7-3 lead into halftime on a 21-yard Eugene Jarvis run, and was up 14-6 after a Coleman Lynn blocked punt for a score, but Temple came up with four interceptions and scored the final 18 points of the game helped by a 20-yard DyOnne Crudup catch. The Owls held on to the ball for 38:40.
Player of the game: Temple QB Vaughn Charlton completed 18 of 27 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Kent State - Passing: Jon Brown, 11-27, 76 yds, 4 INT
Rushing: Eugene Jarvis, 13-57, 1 TD. Receiving: Tom Sitko, 2-13
Temple - Passing: Vaughn Charlton, 18-27, 191 yds, 1 TD
Daryl Robinson, 17-105. Receiving: DyOnne Crudup, 7-85

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Vaughn Charlton came up with a strong game against Kent State to provide a little hope that he could end up being the team's top quarterback option going into next year, or at least be a part of the battle. This win was from the defense that stuffed the Golden Flash offense time and again allowing a 65-yard scoring drive and a mere 59 yards the rest of the way. No matter what happens against Western Michigan, this has been a tremendously successful season as Al Golden has served notice that Temple will be a player in the MAC in 2008.

Nov. 10
Penn State 31 ... Temple 0
Jordan Norwood caught two first half touchdown passes, Anthony Morelli threw a third scoring pass to Deon Butler from 14 yards out, and Rodney Kinlaw ran for a ten-yard score as Penn State rolled with ease over Temple. With Lincoln Financial field looking more like Happy Valley, with Penn State fans invading Temple's home park, the Nittany Lions were never threatened, holding Temple to four net yards rushing and 242 yards overall.
Player of the game: Penn State LB Dan Connor made 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks
Stat Leaders: Penn State - Passing: Anthony Morelli, 22-33, 260 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Rodney Kinlaw, 27-168, 1 TD. Receiving: Derrick Williams, 7-104
Temple - Passing: Vaughn Charlton, 26-43, 238 yds
Jason Harper, 8-26. Receiving:
Bruce Francis, 6-75
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It was Penn State. This was hardly a chance for Temple to show what it could do, but it was still a painful performance for the offense that got overwhelmed on the line. Vaughn Charlton didn't have much room to breathe, but with the entire offense pinned on him, he didn't throw any picks and didn't make any huge mistakes. Now the Owls have to regroup and beat Kent State and Western Michigan to close out a terrific turnaround season. To do that, Charlton has to be better. He had an excuse this week, he won't next week.

Nov. 2
Ohio 23 ... Temple 7
Ohio ran for 219 yards with Kalvin McRae leading the way with 151 yards and a 30-yard touchdown, and Michael Braunstein connected on field goals from 47, 43 and 19 yards. Temple only gained 209 yards of total offense, with WR Bruce Francis getting 101 of them, and a 42-yard touchdown catch to pull within three in the first half. Ohio owned the second half, holding on to the ball for close to 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, with two of Braunstein's field goals and a 22-yard Vince Davidson touchdown run. Temple's Alex Joseph made 18 tackles.
Player of the game: Ohio RB Kalvin McRae ran 28 times for 151 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for seven yards
Stat Leaders: Ohio - Passing: Theo Scott, 7-12, 94 yds
Rushing: Kalvin McRae, 28-151, 1 TD. Receiving: Andrew Mooney, 5-55
Temple - Passing: Vaughn Charlton, 17-25, 161 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jason Harper, 14-40. Receiving:
Bruce Francis, 8-101, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
It's not fair to pin all the blame for the loss to Ohio on the injury to QB Adam DiMichele, but while Vaughn Charlton threw efficiently, he didn't keep the offense moving and didn't make the Bobcat defense pay for loading up against the run. The defense did a decent job, but couldn't get off the field in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, and the offense didn't provide any help. With Penn State up next, Charlton will have to start effectively throwing deep or the Nittany Lion linebackers will eat the Owl running game alive.

Oct. 20
Temple 24 ... Miami University 17
Temple held a 24-7 lead late into the fourth thanks to one-yard touchdown runs from Jason Harper and Adam DiMichele, and a 61-yard Bruce Francis touchdown catch, but MU made it interesting with a one-yard Tom Crabtree touchdown run with 1:19 to play, a recovered onside kick, a 33-yard Nate Parseghian field goal with nine seconds to play, and another recovered onside kick, but the last gasp drive was stopped by a Dominique Harris interception. Miami outgained Temple 370 yards to 298.
Player of the game: Temple DL Junior Galette made nine tackles and three sacks
Stat Leaders: Miami University - Passing: Daniel Raudabaugh, 33-57, 314 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Cory Jones, 12-40. Receiving: Eugene Harris, 7-55
Temple - Passing: Vaughn Charlton, 9-13, 109 yds, 1 TD
Daryl Robinson, 13-69. Receiving: Dy'Onne Crudup, 3-28

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... For the first time since 1990, Temple has won three games in a row, but now it'll have to press on without starting quarterback Adam DiMichele after he broke his leg against Miami. Vaughn Charlton is more than ready. He was in the hunt for the starting job this off-season, and he can keep the offense running and the current win streak doesn't have to end here. The defense did a phenomenal job against the MU running game, and now the Owls are deep in the hunt for the MAC East race with a trip to Ohio ahead next week.

Oct. 13
Temple 24 ... Akron 20
Down 20-3 going into the fourth quarter, Temple rallied with three touchdowns on three Adam DiMichele touchdown passes including a 19-yarder to Dy'Onne Crurup with 27 seconds to play. The Zips appeared to be on the way to an easy win, with two Chris Jacquemain touchdown passes highlighted by a 49-yarder to Jabari Arthur, the Owl passing game got rolling in the fourth, and ended up with 242 yards and 378 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Temple QB Adam DiMichele completed 23 of 34 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions, and ran 12 times for 62 yards
Stat Leaders: Temple - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 23-34, 242 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Adam DiMichele, 12-62. Receiving: Dy'Onne Crudup, 8-74, 1 TD
Akron - Passing: Chris Jacquemain, 12-21, 145, 2 TD, 2 INT
Bryan Williams, 22-114. Receiving: Jabari Arthur, 6-84, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Two wins in a row?! Now Temple has shown it can come through with clutch victories, winning two straight in the final minute, and it knows Adam DiMichele can get hot and carry the team on his back from time to time. Akron had little problems moving the ball early, but the Owl defense did a great job of clamping down late, and now the Owls can make some big noise next week with a home date with East leading Miami University. Win that, and then it's time to start thinking about the possibility of a .500 season.

Oct. 6
Temple 16 ... Northern Illinois 15
Jake Brownell nailed a 39-yard field goal with nine seconds to play to stun Northern Illinois and ruin a comeback attempt. The Huskies got touchdown runs from one and 39 yards from Justin Anderson, but both conversion attempts failed, proving to be the difference in the end. Brownell nailed kicks form 25 and 38 yards out, while the Owl defense got the team's lone touchdown on a 55-yard fumble return from Terrance Knighton.
Player of the game: Temple PK Jake Brownell hit 3-of-4 field goal attempts, including the game-winner from 39 yards with nine seconds left
Stat Leaders: Northern Illinois - Passing: Dan Nicholson, 12-25, 101 yds
Rushing: Justin Anderson, 29-163, 2 TDs. Receiving: Marcus Perez, 5-63
Temple - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 18-32, 202 yds, 1 INT
Daryl Robinson, 14-71. Receiving: Bruce Francis, 4-51
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Temple outplayed Northern Illinois, it got the yards, it got a nice game from the defense, and it did what it had to do to get into a position to win. This was a crucial victory for the program, showing that it could come through in the clutch, even when everything wasn't quite working right. The offensive line had one of its best games of the year, while QB Adam DiMichele kept if conservative, and it worked. If the Owls can beat a hot Akron team next week, then it'll really be time to get excited.

Sept. 29
Army 37 ... Temple 21
Army only gained 329 yards of total offense, but started off the game with an 88-yard kickoff return for a score from Corey Anderson, got a fumble recovery in the end zone, and got an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown from Jeremy Trimble. Temple managed to tie it at 21 going into halftime, thanks to a 27-yard Bruce Francis touchdown catch and two Jason Harper scores. But five turnovers and a slew of penalties ended up proving to be too costly. Trimble put the nail in the coffin with a 69-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth.
Player of the game: Army WR Jeremy Trimble had five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown, two carries for five yards, and three punt returns for 128 and another score .
Stat Leaders: Temple - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 23-42, 314 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing: Jason Harper, 24-71, 1 TD. Receiving: Bruce Francis, 6-133, 1 TD
Army  - Passing: Carson Williams, 11-26, 175 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Patrick Mealy, 17-49. Receiving: Jeremy Trimble, 5-125, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Temple is starting to do the big things right, with the passing game humming against Army, to go along with a strong defensive performance, but it's struggling with some of the periphery issues. Five turnovers, special teams breakdowns, and 11 penalties killed the Owls against Army in what was a bizarre game. Even in the double-digit loss to a bad team, there were positive signs, and this actually was a good overall step forward. At least the offense is moving the ball.

Sept. 22
Bowling Green 48 ... Temple 35
Bowling Green's Tyler Sheehan threw three first half touchdown passes, with two to Freddie Barnes, while Temple got two Adam DiMichele touchdown passes and a one-yard scoring run with five seconds to play in a wild 21-21 first half. And then it was all Falcons, as the defense got scores off two fumble recoveries, Sinisa Vrvilo hit two field goals, and Sheehan threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day as part of a 27 point run that put the game away. Temple got two late DiMichele touchdown passes to make it closer than it actually was.
Player of the game: Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan completed 30 of 47 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran seven times for 38 yards.
Stat Leaders: Bowling Green - Passing: Tyler Sheehan, 30-47, 351 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
Tyler Sheehan, 7-38. Receiving: Corey Partridge, 7-71
Temple- Passing: Adam DiMichele, 27-41, 299 yds, 4 TD
Jason Harper, 24-88. Receiving: Bruce Francis, 8-92, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It might not seem like it after losing to Bowling Green 48-35, but the team is making some excellent strides in the second year of the Al Golden era. Recent Owl teams wouldn't have had a prayer to stay alive in a shootout, and despite the turnovers, mistakes, and second half issues, the offense still put up yards. Eventually, the little things will start to come together. For now, getting better protection from the offensive line is a must after allowing six sacks.

Sept. 15
Connecticut 22 ... Temple 17
Connecticut got a five-yard Donald Brown touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to take the lead, and then held on for dear life as Temple got the ball down to the Husky 11 in the final moments, but couldn't score. However, it was close, as QB Adam DiMichelle, in the end zone, battled a pass off a flea-flicker to Bruce Francis, but was ruled out of bounds even after a review. The Owls got touchdowns on a 59-yard Francis catch and a 13-yard Jason Harper run, while the Huskies struggled, getting two Brown touchdown runs and three Tony Ciaravino field goals.
Player of the game: Connecticut RB Donald Brown ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, while catching one pass for a touchdown..
Stat Leaders: Temple - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 9-18, 143 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jason Harper, 22-114, 1 TD. Receiving: Bruce Francis, 4-84, 1 TD
Connecticut - Passing: Tyler Lorenzen, 19-29, 222 yds
Andre Dixon, 21-129. Receiving: D.J. Hernandez, 5-58
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Give the Owls credit for battling well against Connecticut a week after getting blasted by Buffalo. The defense did a fantastic job of getting into the backfield and slowing down the Husky running game, but the offense wasn't consistent enough with little passing game to open things up. Jason Harper ran the ball extremely well, and he'll have to be a steady factor over the next few weeks on the road. The big key will be getting over the bad call at the end of the game. Temple had UConn beaten, but got a wrong review on an apparent touchdown.

Sept. 8
Buffalo 42 ... Temple 3
Buffalo ruined Temple's MAC opener by stuffing the running game for -36 yards helped by five sacks, and outgained the Owls 414 yards to 141. The Bulls made it a laugher in the first quarter on a 74-yard pass from Drew Willy to James Starks on the games opening play, got a 50-yard interception return for a score from Mike Newton on Temple's possession, and put it away on a 33-yard Mario Henry run. Jason Harper ran for a ten-yard score for the Owls, but UB cranked out 21 straight points to end it, helped by a nine-yard Willy run and a five-yard scoring pass to Jesse Rack.
Player of the game: Buffalo LB Larry Hutchinson had a team-high eight tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery, and QB Drew Willy completed 20 of 22 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and a touchdown run..
Stat Leaders: Buffalo - Passing: Drew Willy, 20-22, 190 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Mario Henry, 17-125, 1 TD. Receiving: Ernest Jackson, 5-40
Temple - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 13-23, 160 yds, 2 INTs
Rushing: Jason Harper, 6-25. Receiving: Marcell Grigsby, 3-27
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Just when it appeared Temple was starting to turn a little bit of a corner with a tough showing in a loss to Navy, it gets crushed by Buffalo. The Owl offensive line got destroyed, while the defense didn't do much of anything on short passes; UB was razor-sharp on third downs. Now it's back to the drawing board for the young team before going on the road for three straight games. There won't be any improvement until the lines start to play much, much better.

Aug. 31
Navy 30 ... Temple 19
Navy got pushed a bit, but the running game, and the kicking of Matt Harmon, came through. Harmon connected on three field goals for the final nine Midshipmen points as the Temple defense held tough over the final 35 minutes. The Midshipmen got two short touchdown runs from Adam Ballard and a 44-yard touchdown dash from Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, but the defense had to hold on as the Owls got two Adam DiMichele touchdown passes including a 23-yard strike with just over four minutes to play. Navy was able to run off almost three minutes to finally put it away.
Player of the game: Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada completed three of seven passes for 78 yards and ran 15 times for 102 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Kent State - Passing: Adam DiMichele, 21-29, 199 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Travis Shelton, 3-37. Receiving: Kevin Armstrong, 5-45
Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 3-7, 78 yds
Shun White, 8-122. Receiving: Shun White, 1-37
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Even though it was a loss to Navy, Temple played night and day better than it did throughout last year as this started to look like a team that could end up winning a few games throughout the year. Adam DiMichele didn't take enough deep shots, but he was strong from short to midrange. There wasn't nearly enough of a running game, but the short passing kept the tempo on the Owls' side. The defense did a nice job of stiffening on third downs and was surprisingly disciplined in the second half against the Navy option attack.

Sept. 1 - Navy
Offense: Navy led the nation in rushing in 2005, led the nation in rushing in 2006, and will lead the nation in rushing in 2007. What's the difference? The ground game will be terrific as always, but now it'll be truly special with the best combination of backfield talent and experience head coach Paul Johnson has ever had. There won't be any passing game, but it won't matter with a ground attack that can crank out a big run from anywhere on the field. The big concern will be the line with no experience among the backups whatsoever and a shaky starting five if left tackle Josh Meek's injured knee isn't healthy.
Uh oh. Wholesale changes need to be made with only three starters and seven lettermen returning. The best defense will be a good offense needing the ground game to crank out long drives to keep this inexperienced, woefully undersized, untested group off the field. Pass rushers need to emerge with the hope for Chris Kuhar-Pitters and Casey Hebert to turn into playmakers around rising star tackle Nate Frazier. Clint Sovie and Irv Spencer will turn into reliable inside linebackers, but outside linebacker will be a question. The secondary will be a work in progress around solid corner Rashawn King.

Sept. 8 - Buffalo
Offense: 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.
Defense: 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.

Sept. 15 – at Connecticut
Offense: For two years running, the Husky offense has been painfully inept, particularly in the passing game.  Tyler Lorenzen was recruited from the ranks of the junior colleges to specifically address that vertical shortcoming.  His arrival pushed D.J. Hernandez to slot receiver and set up a heated competition with sophomore Dennis Brown that'll resume in August.  While quarterback is a question mark, running back is not.  Sophomore Donald Brown exploded on to the scene in 2006 with almost 700 yards and five scores in a torrid five-game stretch to finish the season.  With a bunch of linemen back, he's poised for a monster season in an offense that still uses the run to set up the pass.
Defense: The bend-but-don't-break Huskies snapped like a toothpick in 2006.  The main culprit was a run defense that couldn't slow down anyone not named Rhode Island.  Things don't get any easier this year, as the unit will be looking for ways to replace both of last year's starting tackles.  Uh-oh.  Led by senior linebacker Danny Lansanah and junior corner Darius Butler, the back seven will be picking up a lot of the slack on Saturdays.  Expect the pass rush that produced only 11 sacks in the final eight games to get a spark from the returns of junior Cody Brown and sophomore Lindsey Witten, disruptive ends that'll be on the line together for the first time in September.

Sept. 22 – at Bowling Green
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 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 Corey Partridge.
Defense: 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.

Sept. 29 – at Army
Offense: Last year, Army used a veteran offensive line to work the running game behind while the passing game struggled. Now it has to be the other way around. The backfield, while banged up in spring ball, is solid, the line will be a work in progress. The passing game needs to improve hoping for top-prospect Carson Williams to turn into the leader and playmaker everyone's expecting him to become, or else David Pevoto has to take over the reins and be consistent. No matter who's under center, the interceptions have to slow down. Jeremy Trimble leads a potentially strong receiving corps.
The defense has spent most of its time trying to survive. Now it has to start making big plays in all areas after coming up with just 11 sacks, four interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Everyone at every spot can tackle, motor and toughness is never a problem, talent is always the issue. There's good experience and size up front, Caleb Campbell, when he returns from a knee injury, will be one of the nation's most productive safeties leading a decent secondary, and the linebacking corps, in time, will put up plenty of big tackling numbers once new starters Brian Chmura and Frank Scappaticci get comfortable. Overall, the defense has to do a better job of dictating the action instead of letting things happen and trying to make the play.

Oct. 6 - Northern Illinois
Offense: New offensive 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.

Oct. 13 – at Akron
Offense: 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 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.
Defense: 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 it's own. Not a problem. Four starters return in the back five led by veteran corners Reggie Corner and Davanzo Tate.

Oct. 20 - Miami University
Offense: It's 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, 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.
Defense: There were 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.

Nov. 2 – at Ohio
Offense: 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.
Defense: 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.

Nov. 10 - Penn State
Offense: Known for being button-down conservative, now it's time for Penn State to open the offense up. At least, that's what it has to do to play to the team's strengths. The receiving corps has the potential to be the best in the league with three great targets in Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood, and an all-star-to-be in tight end Andrew Quarless. If senior quarterback Anthony Morelli is consistent and gets the ball to his speedy receivers deep, the passing game will be fantastic. The line, despite the loss of Levi Brown, will be excellent with the expected emergence of tackles Dennis Landolt and Gerald Cadogan, but the real question mark will be running back Austin Scott. The one time star recruit Austin Scott has to finally show he can be the workhorse for the running game. If not. it'll be throw, throw and throw some more.
Defense: As always, the defense will revolve around the linebackers. Paul Posluszny might be gone, but Dan Connor, who'll take over in the middle, could turn into a better all-around playmaker, and Sean Lee will be an All-Big Ten performer. The line doesn't have much experience with only one starter returning, but there's plenty of promise on the inside in beefy tackles Phil Taylor and Abe Koroma. The secondary will be stellar if Anthony Scirrotto gets past his off-the-field legal troubles. If not, corner Justin King and safety Tony Davis, who moves over from corner, will keep the pass defense from sliding after a good 2006.

Nov. 17 - Kent State
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.
Somewhat 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.

Nov. 24 – at Western Michigan
Offense: 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.
Offense: 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.



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