2009 Central Michigan Preview - Offense
Central Michigan WR/KR Antonio Brown
Central Michigan WR/KR Antonio Brown
Posted Jun 26, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Central Michigan Chippewa Offense

Central Michigan Chippewas

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Central Michigan Preview | 2009 CMU Offense 
- 2009 CMU Defense | 2009 CMU Depth Chart 
- 2008 CMU Preview | 2007 CMU Preview | 2006 CMU Preview    

What you need to know: Keep ... Dan LeFevour ... healthy. That's the difference between a MAC title and another disappointing conference finish. Dinged up throughout last year, the spread superstar was fine, but he wasn't quite the effective playmaker he was in his first two seasons. He has a tremendous tandem of receivers to work with led by Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson, who'd be good enough to start at several BCS schools and will get long looks from the NFL. The passing game that finished 12th in the nation last year should be even more explosive and effective, while the running game will be along for the ride with small, quick backs in Bryan Schroeder and Carl Volny needing to prove they can produce on a regular basis. The line was a big problem last year, but it's more athletic, if inexperienced on the outside. The interior will has three decent starters returning, but there aren't any stars.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Dan LeFevour
251-376, 2,784 yds 21 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Dan LeFevour
168 carries, 592 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Antonio Brown
93 catches, 998 yds, 7 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Dan LeFevour
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman OT Jake Olson
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Bryan Schroeder
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Antonio Brown
Top three all-star candidates: 1) LeFevour, 2) Brown, 3) WR Bryan Anderson
Strength of the offense: Dan LeFevour, The Receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Sure-Thing Runners, Line Depth


Projected Starter: One of the best quarterbacks in college football over the last three years, senior Dan LeFevour is due for a huge senior season after fighting through ticky-tack injuries, mostly to his ankle, throughout last year. He led the team in rushing, again, with 592 yards and six scores, but he tore off 1,122 yards and 19 touchdowns two years ago. He threw for 3,652 yards and 27 scores in 2007, and while he completed 67% of his throws, he only threw for 2,784 yards with 21 touchdowns. On the plus side, he was more careful with the ball throwing just six picks with two of them coming against Purdue. At 6-3 and 223 pounds, he has NFL size, he's a good leader and a proven winner who carries his team as much as any quarterback in America not named McCoy or Tebow, and he has the right attitude. He'll sling it around and get into shootouts with anyone, and he'll pop up time after time despite taking too many big shots. This is salary drive time. He's on the radar of the NFL scouts, but he needs to have a special final campaign to avoid being an afterthought like Ball State's Nate Davis was in the 2008 draft.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 211-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Radcliff surprisingly pull out the No. 2 job after spring ball and will serve as the likely understudy behind LeFevour with an eye on the 2010 starting job. A strong passer with a live arm, he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies, he'll get the passing game moving with the deep ball. However, he's not nearly the runner LeFevour is.

Sophomore Derek Rifenbury appeared to be the man for the backup job, but was beaten out by Radcliff. He'll get a chance again this fall with all the tools to be solid. Extremely smart, he knows the offense is a good passer, and at 6-3 and 206 pounds, has good size. Now he has to be more consistent in practices.

Watch Out For ... passers. As good as LeFevour is throwing the ball, Radcliff might be a better pure passer and Rifenbury can throw extremely well. With the receiving corps CMU has, there should be good passing production no matter who's under center.
Dan LeFevour. He's a special player who might not ever be adequately replaced. Coming out of high school he never thought he'd be anywhere near a star, much less attain this level. Now he could make himself a good NFL draft pick by showing off a bit more of a deep arm and by coming through with a big year.
Backup experience. There isn't any. Brian Brunner was a great No. 2 option, who was going to be the starter before getting dinged up and Wally Pipped. Gone, he'll be sorely missed unless Radcliff and Rifenbury can show they're ready.
Outlook: If he can stay healthy, LeFevour is the type of playmaker who can keep the Chippewas in games against almost anyone in America. He could be the best all-around quarterback in college football, or at least in the discussion. However, it'll be vital to get the backups some meaningful time so they don't go into 2010 cold.
Rating: 8.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter: Sophomore Brian Schroeder will get the early shot at taking over the top tailback spot after finishing third on the team with 208 yards and two scores, highlighted by a 106-yard, one touchdown day in the win over Western Michigan. The 5-9, 212-pounder had a nice true freshman season coming off a knee problem, and he even got a start. Very quick and with a nice burst when he gets a hole, he should do more this year. However, he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry in his first year and caught just six passes for 38 yards.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Carl Volny appeared to be all set to become the team's rushing star before suffering a season-ending injury. He ran for 41 yards in his limited time, but the 5-10, 193-pounder from Miami showed off excellent speed and tremendous potential in practices. With his flash, he can be used in a variety of was, but he has yet to do much on the field and he has to be durable.

5-9, 175-pound sophomore Paris Cotton will get his chances in the rotation after seeing a little time in his true freshman season rushing for 101 yards with 29 of them coming against Toledo. Extremely quick, the Miami native showed enough this offseason to be used both in the passing game and as a regular in the rushing rotation.

The Chippewas rarely used a fullback, but if and when they do, 5-11, 206-pound junior Tyler Reed will get the call. A pure blocker, he's a tough player with enough athleticism to potentially get the ball, but he won't. He'll hit people and will be used on special teams.

Watch Out For ... Schroeder. He didn't get too many chances to be special, but he has the potential to be the all-around star that Ontario Sneed was. There's supposed to be a rotation, but Schroeder could end that in a hurry with a few nice performances.
Quickness. The CMU backs are a certain type. They're all fast, they can all cut on a dime, and they all have the potential to tear off big plays. In a perfect world, they can catch, too. 
Power. Forget about power running in this offense. For the really hard yards, Dan LeFevour does what he can to get those. The running game relies on speed and flash ... and LeFevour.
Outlook: LeFevour will still be the team's best rushing option, but the loss of Sneed will be big. Schroeder has great potential and Volny is a good one if he can stay healthy, but the backs will mostly be along for the ride.
Rating: 5


Projected Starters: Senior Bryan Anderson has had problems with a shoulder injury, but he played through it last year and is expected to be fine going into this year. The offense wouldn't be the same without the All-MAC star who caught 226 passes for 2,864 yards and 21 touchdowns in his first three seasons. At 6-5 and 201 pounds he has tremendous size and creates a matchup nightmare with 4.5 deep speed. Even with his shoulder he's a proven tough target who'll do whatever is needed to make a play. While he's not exactly consistent, when he's on he's unstoppable. Last year he tore up Indiana for nine catches for 132 yards and a score and has 11 career 100-yard games.

Anderson might be considered the go-to target because of his seniority, but junior Antonio Brown has been the better receiver over the last two years. After catching 102 passes for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns, while setting the D-I record for all-purpose yards as a freshman with 2,267, he was even better as a sophomore catching 93 balls for 998 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 116 yards and finishing with  2,315 total yards. The 5-10, 180 pounder is extremely quick and an elite kick and punt returner, and he can strike from anywhere on the field evidenced by a 93-yard touchdown play against Eastern Michigan. Insanely fast, he was an all-state Florida high school sprinter, he's more than just a deep threat; he can make grabs anywhere.

Junior Kito Poblah turned into a nice No. 3 target and a spot starter catching 43 passes for 532 yards and three scores. Able to play inside or out, he's one of the team's most versatile receivers with 6-2, 203-pound size and the speed to get deep. After not making a catch in the first three games he was a steady playmaker the rest of the way highlighted by a five-catch, 110-yard, one score day against Ball State. Now he'll be a starter.

With tight end Rocky Weaver moving to tackle, 6-3, 232-pound sophomore David Blackburn will take over after mostly working on special teams. He got a start early on against Georgia but was mostly used as a special teamer. A great recruit for the program, he got offers from Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, and now he has to use his great hands to become a steady receiver. He can also hit and should be strong for the ground game.

Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Jahleel Addae was originally considered a possible running back after rushing for 1,426 yards and 15 touchdowns in his senior year of high school in Tampa, but he was moved over to wide receiver where he'll work as a slot target behind Brown. With his speed and quickness, the 5-10, 188-pounder will also see a few carries. His brother, Jahmile, was a great defensive back for West Virginia.

6-1, 181-pound redshirt freshman Jerry Harris will work behind Bryan Anderson as an ultra-athletic deep threat. He has the size and he has the tools, but he has to prove he can be a consistent wide receiver who can make the big play.

At 6-3 and 210 pounds, sophomore Jeremy Wilson is one of the team's bigger receivers. He caught one pass for 15 yards against Northern Illinois, but he has the high school track star wheels to go along with the size to be a dangerous option in the rotation behind Kito Poblah. He can also be used as a return man.

Junior Chris Starkey will once again be the team's top long snapping option as well as the backup tight end after missing most of last year hurt. A good special teamer, he's a tough all-around athlete who should see a few passes his way in two tight end sets. At 6-3 and 237 pounds he has good size and the smarts to not make many mistakes.

Watch Out For ... the receivers to finally start to get a little attention. When the media focuses on Central Michigan football it's all about LeFevour, but this year Brown and Anderson will deserve more attention. These two will get a hard look by all the NFL types keeping an eye on LeFevour.
Anderson and Brown. The most productive receiving tandem in school history has combined for 421 career catches for 4,865 yards and 34 touchdowns. There are plenty of BCS schools that would love to have these two. Poblah isn't a slouch as a No. 3, either. 
Backup experience. Wilson's one grab for 15 yards accounts for all the returning production among the top reserves. That's not to say they can't play, Harris and Addae will be great, but they're not proven.
Outlook: Anderson and Brown are a devastating tandem who can do it all. These two should be even better, if that's possible, while Poblah should flourish. Addae is a great talent who needs to be folded into the mix as soon as possible while Harris will be a deep threat who'll hit a few home runs.
Rating: 8

Offensive Lineman

Projected Starters: The line needs to be far better and it needs to be far more athletic on the outside against the quicker pass rushers. Enter sophomore Rocky Weaver, last year's starting tight end who made eight catches for 65 yards and a score. He's not going to barrel over anyone at 6-6 and 251 pounds, but he'll be great in pass protection now that he has moved over to right tackle replacing Greg Wojt.

Junior Colin Miller is back in the middle after starting six times last year. He got a few starts at left guard and missed time hurt, but he should be an anchor up front with his experience at center. At 6-3 and 287 pounds, he has bulked up over the last few years and should be one of the team's steadiest run blockers.

6-5, 314-pound junior Jeff Maddux is the team's other returning starter after working at both guard spots last year. He'll start out at left guard this season and will be the one the team runs behind for the hard yards. Even at his size he's good on the move, and while he's not the best in pass protection, he makes up for it by mauling his man to open up holes.

The biggest move, other than Weaver from tight end, is redshirt freshman Jake Olson stepping in for Andrew Hartline at left tackle, protecting Dan LeFevour's blindside. At 6-8 and 268 pounds, he's a very tall, very interesting prospect with tremendous athleticism. A high school high jumper, he should be to handle the speed rushers on a regular basis.

Senior Allen Ollenburger was a feisty 245-pound blocker last year but beefed up into 274-pounder on his 6-4 frame. Very athletic, he's good on the move at right guard and could be moved to tackle, where he sttarted three times last year, if needed. The former tight end got three starts at right guard and now will get the full-time nod after a good offseason.

Projected Top Reserves: Soon to be one of the stars on the line is Jeff Fantuzzi, a 6-4, 280-pound true freshman who came to school early and was great this spring. While he won't win a starting job right away, he's a great talent who can be a key backup at either guard spot and will start out working behind Ollenburger.

Redshirt freshman Matt Kanitz is a former high school hockey player with 6-6 and 288-pound size. He has the lateral quickness to grow into a nice left tackle with a little more time and seasoning. He'll start out working behind Olson, but he could move over to right tackle if needed.

Watch Out For ... the tackles. The pass protection can't be much worse than it was last year, and while Olson and Weaver don't have any experience at tackle but they're more athletic options than last year's starters.
: Quickness. CMU has had bruisers and it has had athletes. This group falls into the latter category with a bunch of big tight end types who can all move. They won't have to plow over anyone, but for the spread, they should be able to wall of their men and they should be able to get down the field and make things happen.
Overall experience. Maddux, Miller and Ollenburger are veterans on the inside, but the tackles need time and there's nothing to count on right away among the backups.
Outlook: Bad in 2006, great in 2007, and lousy in 2008, the hope has to be that the CMU line is good in all the odd years. If nothing else, this year's front five will be more athletic and it should be better in pass protection after allowing 30 sacks and too many hits on the franchise, LeFevour. There won't be any power run blocking unless it's Maddux doing it, but that's not the job of this line. Get on the move, make one big block, and keep the quarterbacks as clean as possible. This group, eventually, should be able to do all three.
Rating: 5.5