Preview 2009 -
2009 CFN Central
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2009 CMU Offense
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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
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
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
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.
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.
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
Strength: 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
Weakness: 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.
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
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
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
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.
Strength: 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
Weakness: 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.