2009 CFN Central Michigan Preview
Central Michigan WR Bryan Anderson
Central Michigan WR Bryan Anderson
Posted Jun 26, 2009

The CFN 2009 Central Michigan Chippewa Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Central Michigan Chippewas

Preview 2009

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By Pete Fiutak

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

Head coach: Butch Jones
3rd year: 16-11
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 22, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best CMU Players
1. QB Dan LeFevour, Sr.
2. WR/KR Antonio Brown, Jr.
3. DE Frank Zombo, Sr.
4. WR Bryan Anderson, Sr.
5. LB Nick Bellore, Jr.
6. DT Sean Murnane, Jr.
7. LB Matt Berning, Jr.
8. CB Josh Gordy, Sr.
9. DE Sam Williams, Sr.
10. TE David Blackburn, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 8-4
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 at Arizona
9/12 at Michigan St
9/19 Alcorn State
9/26 Akron
10/3 at Buffalo
10/10 Eastern Mich
10/17 at Western Mich
10/24 at Bowling Green
10/31 at Boston Coll
11/11 Toledo
11/18 at Ball State
11/27 Northern Illinois

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

2008 Record: 8-

8/28 Eastern Illinois W 31-12
9/6 at Georgia L 56-17
9/13 at Ohio W 31-28
9/20 at Purdue L 32-25
9/27 Buffalo W 27-25
10/11 Temple W 24-14
10/18 Western Mich W 38-28
10/25 at Toledo W 24-23
11/1 at Indiana W 37-34
11/12 at No Illinois W 33-30 OT
11/19 Ball State L 31-24
11/28 at Eastern Mich L 56-52
12/26 Florida Atlantic L 24-21

Central Michigan was good enough to win its third straight MAC title last year, it should've beaten Ball State, didn't, and ended up missing out on a chance to come into this year with a shot at nailing four in a row. But now winning the MAC title wasn't the problem last year. Not winning the Motor City Bowl, was.

Of course every team wants to win the conference race, but for Central Michigan, there was no real reward to from the bowl matchups if had won it. If the Chippewas had been able to go beat Buffalo and take the title, they would've gone to the Motor City Bowl. They lost to Ball State and to Eastern Michigan in a tremendous shootout and ended up in the Motor City Bowl for the third straight year. Losing to Purdue the year before was acceptable. Losing to Florida Atlantic last year, wasn't.

The bowl defeat to the Owls summed up the CMU year in a nutshell. While going 8-5 with a bowl game is never anything to sneeze at in Mount Pleasant, the year could've been so much more if the weaknesses weren't so glaring. If superstar quarterback Dan LeFevour didn't have to fight through an ankle problem for most of the season ... if there could've been some semblance of a power running game ... if the defense wasn't among the worst in America when it came to stopping the pass ... there were a lot of ifs last year that could be corrected just a little bit going into this year, and the results should be different.

It wasn't like CMU was bad, except on pass defense; it just needed a little bit of tweaking. With ten starters returning on defense, the MAC's elite passing attack getting LeFevour back, along with his star receivers, Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson, and with the league's best special teams, this will be the MAC's best team going into the year. A team with this much going its way should be able to pull out all the close battles, unlike last year when it should've beaten Purdue, Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic, and a team this good shouldn't have to pull so many out of the fire in the first place like it had to against Ohio, Buffalo, Toledo, Indiana, and Northern Illinois.

Nine of CMU's 13 games were decided by a touchdown or less, and six of those were decided by four points or fewer. The team tended to play up or down to the competition, the blow out loss to Georgia excluded, and this year it has to do a better job of ending the discussion before it can start.

The offense is geared up to fun 'n' gun with anyone, even if LeFevour goes down, while the defense should boast a devastating pass rush led by a phenomenal line. The pass defense can't be any worse, and despite several injury issues, it won't be. Now that the team knows what it's like to not win a MAC title, it'll be the favorite to win it all going away ... on the way to another Motor City Bowl.

What to watch for on offense:
Even more of an emphasis on the passing game. LeFevour wasn't quite his 1,000-yard rushing self last season thanks to a few dings and with the upgrade in the passing attack. With Onterio Sneed gone, the running backs aren't going to be quite as strong even though Bryan Schroeder and Carl Volny are good speedsters to crank out a few big runs now and then. With an NFL-caliber passer like LeFevour, and two receivers in Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson who'll get more than just a cup of coffee from the big league, it'll be bombs away for a passing attack that should average around 300 yards per game.

What to watch for on defense:
The pass defense. It was awful for two seasons and CMU won two MAC titles. It was the third-worst in the nation last year and CMU was probably the league's second best team and went to a bowl. Injuries were an issue, and still are, but it's a deep secondary with a fast group of veterans returning at all four spots. It doesn't have to be USC's pass defense of last year, but if it's just average, or merely not miserable, the rest of the team should be able to take care of the rest.

The team will be far better if … the team can get out to a fast start each and every game. Too often the offense had to rally after a sluggish first quarter, and it was average out of the halftime locker room and had to scramble in the fourth. CMU was outscored 85 to 62 in the first quarter last year, but it put up 139 points in the second. The offense has to do a better job of getting on top of teams early so it can weather the storm late.

The Schedule: There's an ugly stretch of five road games in seven starting with a trip to face defending champion, Buffalo, and ending with a Wednesday night game against Ball State. In between there are home games against Eastern Michigan and Toledo, two games that would likely have been winnable if they were on the road, while facing Western Michigan and Bowling Green on the road in back-to-back weeks is a horrible stroke of scheduling luck. On the plus side, the game against Northern Illinois, probably the third best team in the league behind CMU and WMU, is in Mount Pleasant to close out the regular season. The non-conference schedule, outside of the layup against Alcorn State, is challenging starting out at Arizona and Michigan State while travelling to Boston College on Halloween, the worst possible time coming off two tough conference road dates.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Dan LeFevour. Now comes the tricky part. Is the ultra-mobile 6-3, 223-pounder another Chad Pennington or Ben Roethlisberger and able to generate enough buzz from the NFL types to go in the first round, or at least in the first 100 picks, or is he another Nate Davis or Omar Jacobs, who gets a ton of hype, gets talked about as a high pick, and then fizzles? He'll suffer from the spread quarterback stigma, but being in the MAC doesn't hurt him. The big key will be to perform well against Michigan State, Arizona and Boston College by putting up big numbers with his arm, even though the team would do better if he ran wild.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Frank Zombo. Built more like a plugging defensive tackle, the 6-4, 269-pounder is tremendously quick off the ball and has turned out to be the program's best pass rusher since Dan Bazuin. Zombo didn't get any help two years ago when he came up with a big season as the team's only pass rusher, and last year he got a ton of help, and helped take the pressure off of everyone else, and came up with a huge season. Now he should be a lock for All-MAC stardom and he should finish with double-digit sacks.

Key player to a successful season: Senior CB Josh Gordy. The team has been able to win over the years with a bad pass defense, but things could be so much easier if the corners could put the clamps down once in a while. Gordy is an ultra-athletic veteran with 35 games, 169 tackles, seven interceptions and 16 broken up passes under his belt. He has been hurt, but he needs to be 100% and needs to erase one side of the field, or at least handle everyone's No. 1 receiver, so the safeties can help out everywhere else.

The season will be a success if ... CMU wins its third MAC title in four years. The schedule doesn't work out well, but this is the league's best team with several of the league's best players. Anything less than a title will be a failure in LeFevour's final year.

Key game: Oct. 17 at Western Michigan. On the plus side, the MAC game of the year is coming for CMU after a home game and at the start of a run of three straight road games. This is the game the Broncos will be gunning for, and the winner will likely go on to win the West as well as the MAC.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 11-of-22 (50%) - Central Michigan 5-of-18 (28%)
- Fumbles: Opponents 15, lost 8 - Central Michigan 10, lost 4
- Average yards per game: Opponents 423.8 - Central Michigan 423.5

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