Preview 2008 - CFN Central Michigan Preview
Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour
Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour
Posted Apr 21, 2008

Oh sure, the SEC East will be fun and there will be several good conference races, but none will be more competitive than the MAC West with Ball State, Western Michigan, Toledo, and Central Michigan all loaded. Can Dan LeFevour pull off a third straight title? Check out the CFN Central Michigan Preview.

Central Michigan Chippewas

Preview 2008

Interested in blogging about MAC football?  Let us know

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Central Michigan Preview | 2008 CMU Offense 
- 2008 CMU Defense | 2008 CMU Depth Chart 
- 2007 CFN Central Michigan Preview | 2006 CFN Central Michigan Preview 

It's easy to forget now, but Central Michigan went from 1995 to 2004 with just one winning season and was an afterthought in the MAC race year after year. Now it's a superpower, and it did so with one of the most bizarre seasons a conference champion could possibly have.

Thanks to the phenomenal Dan LeFevour, who came within one rushing score of joining Tim Tebow as the only quarterbacks in the 20-20 club (20 rushing touchdowns and 20 passing touchdowns in the same season), Central Michigan had the MAC's top scoring offense and was second in the league in total offense, averaging a mere 1.5 yards fewer than Toledo. The defense, well, the defense got their championship rings, too.

Head coach: Butch Jones
2nd year: 8-6
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 22, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best CMU Players
QB Dan LeFevour, Jr.
2. WR Bryan Anderson, Jr.
3. WR Antonio Brown, Soph.
4. LB Nick Bellore, Soph.
5. OT Andrew Hartline, Sr.
6. RB Ontario Sneed, Sr.
7. RB Carl Vouchy, Soph.
8. SS Chaz West, Jr.
9. DE Frank Zombo, Jr.
10. CB Josh Gordy, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 28 Eastern Illinois
Sept. 6 at Georgia
Sept. 13 at Ohio
Sept. 20 at Purdue
Sept. 27 Buffalo
Oct. 11 Temple
Oct. 18 Western Michigan
Oct. 25 at Toledo
Nov. 1 at Indiana
Nov. 12 at Northern Illinois
Nov. 19 Ball State
Nov. 28 at Eastern Michigan

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 8-6

Sept. 1 at Kansas L 52-7
Sept. 8
Toledo W 52-38
Sept. 15 at Purdue  45-22
Sept. 22
North Dakota St L 44-14
Sept. 29 Northern Illinois W 35-10
Oct. 6 at Ball State W 58-38
Oct. 13 Army W 47-23
Oct. 20 at Clemson L 70-14
Oct. 27
at Kent State W 41-32
Nov. 6 at Western Mich W 34-31
Nov. 17
Eastern Mich L 48-45
Nov. 23 at Akron W 35-32
MAC Championship
Dec. 1 Miami Univ. W 35-10
Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26 Purdue L 51-48

The Chippewas led the the MAC in run defense allowing 156.5 yards per game, but in a nearly impossible statistical oddity, they still finished last in the league in total defense because everyone was able to bomb away on the nation's second-worst pass defense (only Rice allowed more passing yards per game). Granted, many teams had to chuck on CMU because they were down, had to keep up, or were in comeback mode, but the defense really did have its problems.

Even so, CMU won its second straight league championship and is among the favorites to come up with three in a row, but last year's performance won't cut it. The 2007 MAC was weak, rebuilding, and reloading. Now the conference is full of experienced, veteran teams with enough solid contenders to knock off CMU on a given day. And now that the bull's-eye is squarely on the Chippewas' back, it'll be an every week battle to stay in contention.

While there are some major changes happening on defense, mostly in personnel turnover, the offense should be even better. LeFevour is a veteran junior who's starting to get a sniff from the NFL scouts, Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown form one of the nation's most productive tandems, and Ontario Sneed, Justin Hoskins and Carl Vouchy are good backs to balance things out. Yeah, CMU is beatable, but you'll likely need to hang 40 on the board to do it.

Now, for the program that wasn't even on the radar a few years ago, anything less than a MAC title will be a major disappointment. This is the league's shining star and the type of fun team that BCS-fan snobs will need to go out of their way to watch. Now if there's just a little bit more defense ...
What to watch for on offense: A little less running from LeFevour. Several offensive stars, like Sneed, Hoskins and Anderson, were out this spring healing up. While the attack needs all of them to run at peak efficiency, the one guy it can't be without is LeFevour. While the junior might put up Tebow-like numbers, he's not the bruiser like the Heisman winner. At 6-3 and 226 pounds, LeFevour is hardly a lightweight, but with excellent backs to carry the ground game, there should be a few less carries for the star of the show.

What to watch for on defense: The pass defense. It has stunk for the last two seasons and CMU still won MAC titles. The coaching staff is trying to patch up the leaks with excellent tackling corner Chaz West, who hits like a linebacker but also covers like one, moving to strong safety where he should blossom into an All-MAC star. It's not like there isn't talent in the secondary, Josh Gordy is a good corner, there just needs to be a bit more production.

The team will be far better if … there's more pressure from the defensive front. It's the domino effect. If the line can get into the backfield more often and get to the quarterback, something it had a rough time doing last year, the secondary will get more of a break and there will be better production against the pass. Frank Zombo and Antrione Archer are good ends, and now they have to start racking up the sack totals.

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: Junior QB Dan LeFevour. The two-year numbers are astounding. 65% completion percentage. 6,683 passing yards, 53 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 1,643 rushing yards with 26 touchdowns with a 5.1-yard-per-carry average, and two catches for 34 yards and a score. Oh yeah, and two MAC titles. In a league that has seen in recent years talents like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Omar Jacobs and Bruce Gradkowski, LeFevour, if he has one more big year, is about to be the greatest quarterback to ever play in the league.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore LB Nick Bellore. The defense had a big hole at linebacker, and Bellore stepped in and cleaned up everything All-MAC stars Red Keith and Ike Brown didn't get to. Bellore, the 6-1, 234-pound man in the middle, made 102 tackles as a true freshman and now will be the leader of the corps, and possibly the defense, as the main stopper against the run.

Key player to a successful season:
Sophomore DT Sean Murnane. The team has won with bad pass defenses before, and the secondary should be a bit better this year, but the Chippewas can't win another MAC title if the run defense is struggling. Gone is All-MAC star tackle Stephen Friend and in comes Murnane, an undersized inside player checking in at a plucky 6-1 and 237 pounds. The defense isn't big up the middle, so Murnane has to prove he can hold up.

The season will be a success if ... it's threepeat time. After the last two years, and with the loaded offense returning, nothing less than another MAC title will sit well. There's too much talent, the coaching is too good, and LeFevour is too fantastic to shoot for anything lower.

Key game: Nov. 19 vs. Ball State. There will be several landmines to sidestep if CMU wants to get to another title game, but beating the Cardinals will be the biggest issue. Get a big bag of chips, a comfy chair, and enjoy the ride as Nate Davis and the Cardinals should be able to match LeFevour and the high-octane Chippewas yard for yard in what should be a terrific shootout.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 18 of 31 (58%) – Central Michigan 6 of 21 (29%)
- Average yards per game: Opponents 303.5 yards – Central Michigan 267
- Fumbles: Opponents 25 (lost 12) – Central Michigan 15 (lost 10)



Related Stories
Johnson Excited to Join CMU Program
 -by  Apr 12, 2008 NFL Draft Report Card
 -by  May 1, 2008
Defense Tops Offense, 50-21, in Scrimmage
 -by  Apr 6, 2008

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Central Michigan
[View My HotList]