Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2009 Early MAC Lookaheads
Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour
Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 31, 2009


The MAC should be wild and crazy yet again with several teams loaded with experience, with Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour looking to lead the way to a possible third title in four years. Check out CFN's early lookahead at each MAC team, what needs working on, and why to be excited.


2009 MAC Lookaheads

East  Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent St | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West  Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | No Illinois | Toledo | West Mich
- 2008 CFN All-MAC Team | 2008 CFN Preseason All-MAC Team

- 2007 MAC Lookback/Recaps | 2008 MAC Lookaheads


 - 2008 MAC Lookbacks/Recaps

Akron
CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 5-7


Why to get excited: Two of the three starters are back on the defensive front with Almondo Sewell and Joe Rash heading the outside. The secondary gets back three key players in the 3-3-5 while Mike Thomas, the second-leading tackler, is back on the strongside. The offense gets four starters back on the line to protect senior-to-be QB Chris Jacquemain.

Why to be grouchy: Two key starters from the linebacking corps are gone, including leading tackler and All-MAC star, Kevin Grant, from the middle. Dennis Kennedy is gone from the running game along with second-leading receiver, Andre Jones.

The number one thing to work on is: Generating a pass rush. The 3-3-5 defensive alignment is supposed to get more speed and athleticism on the field, but it didn’t translate into production in the backfield as the Zips finished 115th in the nation in sacks and 100th in tackles for loss. The secondary held up well despite the lack of help, but the team can’t be a player in the MAC without a dramatic improvement.

Biggest offensive loss: RB Dennis Kennedy
Biggest defensive loss: LB Kevin Grant
Best returning offensive player: WR Deryn Bowser, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: NT Almondo Sewell, Jr.

Ball State

CFN Preseason Prediction: 6-6  Final Record: 12-2

Why to get excited: The defense was tremendous up until the final two games of the season, and seven starters return. The safeties, Alex Knipp and Sean Baker, will be among the best in the MAC while everyone returns to a strong defensive front that was great at getting into opposing backfields.

Why to be grouchy: Losing QB Nate Davis to the NFL a year early hurts, but losing head coach Brady Hoke to San Diego State is a killer. Stan Parrish will need to prove himself early on for a program that’s coming off such a remarkable regular season, but he’ll have to do it with a few key replacements on the offensive line, two new outside linebackers, two new corners, and a new punter as Chris Miller, one of the nation’s best, is gone.

The number one thing to work on is: Getting the mojo back. After all the great things that happened last year, and after such a disastrous ending, it’ll be tough to gear the program back up and be anywhere near the level it was at throughout 2008. Getting QB Tanner Justice comfortable will be step one. If he’s above-average, the Cardinals have a chance to be players in the MAC race.

Biggest offensive loss: QB Nate Davis
Biggest defensive loss: CB B.J. Hill
Best returning offensive player: RB MiQuale Lewis, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Brandon Crawford, Sr.

Bowling Green

CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 6-6

Why to get excited: Depending on the formation, seven starters return to the offense led by veteran QB Tyler Sheehan. The defense welcomes back a nice pair of safeties in P.J. Mahone and Jahmal Brown. Bowling Green won’t be on anyone’s list of preseason conference favorites, but there are enough decent players in place to have a good year.

Why to be grouchy: Lots of work is needed on the defensive front with star end Diyral Briggs just one of three lost starters while linebackers Erique Dozier and John Haneline are also gone. While Freddie Barnes is back, Corey Partridge and Marques Parks are gone from the receiving corps.

The number one thing to work on is: Getting more explosive on offense. Barnes is a good place to start, and RB Willie Geter has nice flash to go along with pounder Chris Bullock. The offense was decent last year and was able to put up points, but cranking out long, productive drives throughout the season was a problem.

Biggest offensive loss: WR Corey Partridge
Biggest defensive loss: DE Diyral Briggs
Best returning offensive player: QB Tyler Sheehan, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: SS P.J. Mahone, Sr.

Buffalo

CFN Preseason Prediction: 3-9  Final Record: 8-6

Why to get excited: Turner Gill is still the Buffalo head football coach. He’s probably only around for one more year, but as long as he’s at UB, the program has a chance to be special. On the field, getting all seven starters back in the linebacking corps and secondary should ensure another year of takeaways. UB was third in the nation in turnover margin.

Why to be grouchy: Willy will be missed. Zack Maynard brings good running skills, but can he be the leader and passer that Willy was? Three starters are gone off the offensive line that did such a great job of paving the way for RB James Starks, but it was mediocre in pass protection.

The number one thing to work on is: Generating a pass rush. For all the good things the Buffalo defense did when it came to forcing turnovers, the lack of solid play from the line was a problem. UB only came up with 14 sacks on the year and struggled to make any plays in the backfield. The secondary struggled because of it as too many of the MAC’s good quarterbacks had time to throw.

Biggest offensive loss: QB Drew Willy
Biggest defensive loss: DE Mike Thompson
Best returning offensive player: RB James Starks, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: SS Davonte Shannon, Jr.

Central Michigan

CFN Preseason Prediction: 6-6   Final Record: 8-5

Why to get excited: Dan LeFevour, Bryan Anderson, Antonio Brown, Kito Poblah, and Rocky Weaver. LeFevour and his receivers are all back, along with three starters on the line, while the defense gets everyone back. Everyone. If this isn’t the preseason favorite to win the MAC title, it’ll be everyone’s No. 2 team.

Why to be grouchy: Do-it-all RB Ontario Sneed is gone along with backup Justin Hoskins. The defense is all back, but the defense is all back … it didn’t come up with enough key stops last season. For good and bad, the pressure will be out of the realm of realistic. It’s MAC title or bust.

The number one thing to work on is: Tightening up the pass defense … again. This has been the constant problem for CMU over the last few years, but it would be a huge help if it could slow down one of the decent MAC passers. Oddly enough, one of the best games the secondary had was against Ball State’s Nate Davis, giving up only 175 yards, but it allowed four touchdown passes. The secondary only came up with eight interceptions with five coming against Temple and Northern Illinois.

Biggest offensive loss: OT Andrew Hartline
Biggest defensive loss: LB David Archer
Best returning offensive player: QB Dan LeFevour, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Nick Bellore, Jr.

Eastern Michigan

CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 3-9

Why to get excited: QB Andy Schmitt returns to revolve the offense around, while the defense has a few decent players to work with like DT Brandon Slater and DE Brad Ohrman up front, and corners Kevin Long and Arrington Hicks in the secondary. Getting English as the head man was a coup for a program in need of a big-time makeover. Four starters return to the offensive line

Why to be grouchy: The defense can’t be much worse, but it’ll have to replace several of its key players including LB Daniel Holtzclaw and safeties Dwayne Harrison and Jacob Wyatt. The top four tacklers of last year are gone. The offense will be without starting RB Terrence Blevins, WR Tyler Jones, left tackle T.J. Lang.

The number one thing to work on is: The defense, in all phases. There was no push into the backfield from the line, the run defense was among the worst in America, allowing close to 200 yards per game, and the secondary was the worst in the MAC in pass efficiency defense. English has to come in and make the defensive more productive from the day he first sets foot on the practice field.

Biggest offensive loss: WR Tyler Jones
Biggest defensive loss: LB Daniel Holtzclaw
Best returning offensive player: QB Andy Schmitt, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Andre Hatchett, Sr.

Kent State

CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 4-8

Why to get excited: The offensive line has the potential to be among the best in the MAC, even without LT Augustus Parrish. The defense struggled throughout last year, but eight starters return with a defense defensive front that should be far better in all areas. Of course, having a back like Eugene Jarvis to work the team around is always a plus.

Why to be grouchy: Are the receivers in place to start throwing the ball more? One of the MAC’s worst passing attacks with Julian Edelman at the helm needs to be better, and it could be with Anthony Magazu throwing. However, Shawn Bayes, the team’s best receiver, is gone. The defense might have plenty of returning experience, but it loses its best player by far, LB Derek Burrell.

The number one thing to work on is: A more balanced offense. The return game needs a major overhaul after finishing 115th in the nation in punt returns and 116th in kickoff returns, but the team needs to get the passing attack moving again. When Julian Edelman was under center, it was all about getting him and Jarvis moving on the ground. But to make more MAC noise, there has to be some semblance of an air attack.

Biggest offensive loss: QB Julian Edelman
Biggest defensive loss: LB Derek Burrell
Best returning offensive player: RB Eugene Jarvis, Sr.  
Best returning defensive player: FS Brian Lainhart, Jr.

Miami University

CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5   Final Record: 2-10

Looking Ahead: New head coach Mike Haywood inherits a veteran team, but can anyone play? The RedHawks have ten miles to go before they can even think about playing for a MAC title, but with the right attitude adjustment, and better play from the lines, a turnaround and a winning season might not take all that long.

Why to get excited: The top skill players are back … for good and bad. The offense might have struggled last year, but QB Daniel Raudabaugh, RBs Thomas Merriweather and Andre Bratton, and receivers Dustin Woods, Eugene Harris, and Chris Givens are all back. Six starters return on defense.

Why to be grouchy: Both kickers, PK Nate Parseghian and P Jake Richardson, First Team All-MAC selections, are gone, as are the great linebackers. The offensive line that struggled so much last year will have to deal with a lack of experience with three starters gone.

The number one thing to work on is: Scoring. The defense might not have been a prize, but the offense did nothing to help the cause with few long drives and little in the way of scoring pop. Nothing worked. The passing game came up with yards, but that was mostly because of the need to go into comeback mode. The running game averaged a paltry 109 yards per game, and the offense averaged a MAC-worst 18.42 yards per outing.

Biggest offensive loss: PK Nate Parseghian
Biggest defensive loss: LBs Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins
Best returning offensive player: RB Thomas Merriweather, Jr.
Best returning defensive player: NT Martin Channels, Sr.

Northern Illinois

CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 6-7

Why to get excited: Eight starters return to an offense that ran well throughout last year, finishing third in the MAC, while both safeties are back to the league’s top pass defense. Alex Kube is one of the MAC’s best all-around defenders, and he’ll be back to anchor the back seven. Mike Salerno is one of the league’s best placekickers.

Why to be grouchy: The offensive line has to rebuild on the right side with guard Dan Keller and tackle Jon Brost gone. The defense isn’t going to be better without MAC Defensive Player of the Year Larry English off to the NFL, and it also loses top corners Melvin Rice and Chase Carter.

The number one thing to work on is: Get the passing game going. It’ll be Chandler Harnish’s offense now, or at least he’ll be in a good battle with DeMarcus Grady for the job. Whoever wins it has to start throwing better. NIU was dead last in the MAC in passing offense and 11th in the league in passing efficiency. The running game should still work, that’s what head coach Jerry Kill is good at cranking out, but there’s a ceiling on what the team can do without being able to throw the forward pass with some semblance of consistency.

Biggest offensive loss: OT Jon Brost
Biggest defensive loss: DE Larry English
Best returning offensive player: C Eddie Adamski, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Alex Kube, Jr.

Ohio

CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 4-8

Why to get excited: Veterans. QB Boo Jackson is back along with six other starters including almost all the key skill players. The defense loses CB Mark Parson and SS Michael Mitchell, but gets back eight starters. The return game was among the best in the MAC, and all the key returners are back.

Why to be grouchy: The offensive line needs work. It wasn’t great last year, and now it has to replace three starters. The defense has to start generating more pressure into the backfield without top tackle Jameson Hartke. Losing CB Mark Parson will be a problem; he was a nice shut-down coverman.

The number one thing to work on is: Turnover margin. The Bobcats turned it over 31 times and only came up with 19 takeaways. More importantly, the turnovers ended up coming at the worst times. While finishing 110th in the nation in turnover margin was a big part of the problem, consistent kicking was another thorn averaging a mere 30.8 yards per punt.

Biggest offensive loss: LT Josh Leuck
Biggest defensive loss: DE Jameson Hartke
Best returning offensive player: QB Boo Jackson, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Noah Keller, Jr.

Temple

CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 5-7

Why to get excited: Eight starters return to an offense that struggled last year, but will be much more experienced, and nine starters are back to a defense that should be among the MAC’s best. Making the team even more exciting going into next year is the return of all the top return men. The pieces are there to do what Buffalo was able to.

Why to be grouchy: The offense was held together by QB Adam DiMichele, who managed to fight through injuries to help the attack overcome a miserable running game. DiMichele is gone. Yeah, plenty of starters are back on offense, but the ground game is starting from scratch production-wise after finishing last in the MAC. Terrance Knighton was the anchor of the defense; 291-pound, active defensive tackles don’t hang around Temple too often.

The number one thing to work on is: Scoring, scoring, scoring. The defense has always been good under Golden, but he needs to get his offense rolling without DiMichele. A new quarterback has to emerge, Chester Stewart could be the one, while Key-ayre Griffin and Joe Jones have to provide some pop to the running attack.

Biggest offensive loss: QB Adam DiMichele
Biggest defensive loss: DT Terrance Knighton
Best returning offensive player: WR Jason Harper, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: NT Andre Neblett, Sr.

Toledo

CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5  Final Record: 3-9

Why to get excited: Ten starters return on defense, and while the one loss is a big one, CB Tyrrell Herbert, SS Barry Church leads an athletic group that should be far better. The offense gets nine starters back including four offensive linemen and QB Aaron Opelt. If that wasn’t enough experience returning, both kickers, PK Alex Steigerwald and P Bill Claus, are back.

Why to be grouchy: Can any of the returning players actually play? Experience is one thing, but will that mean the team can improve after such a nightmare of a season? Yeah, 21 overall starters are back, but losing Herbert is big and WR Nick Moore was fantastic. Overall, it’s a lot to ask of a defense to suddenly find ways to get into the backfield and for the offense to start putting up points in bunches.

The number one thing to work on is: Hitting the quarterback. Toledo came up with a mere ten sacks last year and a pathetic 52 tackles for loss. The rest of the defense struggled to pick up the slack, even though the secondary tried its best, and 2009 won’t be much better unless a pass rusher emerges.

Biggest offensive loss: WR Nick Moore
Biggest defensive loss: CB Tyrrell Herbert
Best returning offensive player: WR Stephen Williams, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: SS Barry Church, Sr.

Western Michigan

CFN Preseason Prediction: 8-4  Final Record: 9-4

Why to get excited: QB Tim Hiller is back to lead the MAC’s best passing attack. Top receiver Jamarko Simmons is gone, along with Schneider Julien, but Juan Nunez is back along with a few other decent prospects who should be ready to step up. The offensive line gets four starters back and should be able to keep Hiller upright after a good year in pass protection.

Why to be grouchy: The entire secondary needs to be replaced including future NFLers Louis Delmas at strong safety and Londen Fryar at corner. While there are some decent receivers coming back, losing Jamarko Simmons and Schneider Julien will hurt after the two combined for 164 catches for 1,990 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also gone is tight end Branden Ledbetter, who caught 45 passes for 464 yards and six scores.

The number one thing to work on is: The pass defense. Considering the talent in last year’s secondary, allowing 255 yards per game was appalling. Now the Broncos have to come up with four new starters, and while the pass rush should be decent, it’s asking a lot to be able to do more considering the lack of star power. Getting a bit more out of the punting game would be nice.

Biggest offensive loss: WR Jamarko Simmons
Biggest defensive loss: SS Louis Delmas
Best returning offensive player: QB Tim Hiller, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Austin Pritchard, Sr.