Breaking down the rest of the MAC
Sports Editor Aaron McMann breaks down every non-Michigan football team in the Mid-American Conference.
Head coach: Rob Ianello (first year)
2009 record: 3-9, 2-6 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Syracuse (Sept. 4), vs. Gardner-Webb (Sept. 11), at Kentucky (Sept. 18), at Indiana (Sept. 25)
Breakdown: If you like rushing-dominated offense, you’ll love Akron. The Zips, under new head coach Rob Ianello, return running back Alex Allen for his sixth year along with junior Dale Martin, a transfer from Louisville. Three offensive linemen who played all 12 games last season come back, making for a strong offensive line. The defensive line is even better, with two juniors and two seniors led by two-time All-MAC defensive tackle Almondo Sewell. Quarterback Patrick Nicely, who played in eight games last season, is only a sophomore and should have a better grasp of the game and offense in his second season.
Ball State Cardinals
Head coach: Stan Parrish (second year)
2009 record: 2-10, 2-6 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Southeast Missouri State (Sept. 2), vs. Liberty (Sept. 11), at Purdue (Sept. 18), at Iowa (Sept. 25)
Breakdown: After a year in which Ball State started 12-0 and made a case for a BCS berth, the Cardinals tanked in 2009. They return 17 starters in 2010, including 10 on the offensive side of the ball. Senior running back MiQuale Lewis is back for his fifth year and is less than 700 yards away from setting the BSU all-time rushing record.
Bowling Green Falcons
Head coach: Dave Clawson (second year)
2009 record: 7-6, 6-2 MAC
Non-conference schedule: at Troy (Sept. 4), at Tulsa (Sept. 11), vs. Marshall (Sept. 18), at Michigan (Sept. 25)
Breakdown: This will be a rebuilding year for the Falcons, who return just eight starters from a year ago. Clawson’s big guns, quarterback Tyler Sheehan, who threw for over 4,000 and 27 touchdowns, and receiver Freddie Barnes (1,770 yards, 19 touchdowns) graduated. The receiver corps is still experienced, with two seniors and three juniors.
Head coach: Jeff Quinn (first year)
2009 record: 5-7, 3-5 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Rhode Island (Sept. 2), at Baylor (Sept. 11), vs. Central Florida (Sept. 18), at Connecticut (Sept. 25)
Breakdown: Former CMU assistant under Brian Kelly takes over at UB for his first season with youth at quarterback. Zach Maynard, who threw for 2,694 yards last season, transferred to California in the offseason, leaving freshman Rudy Johnson, sophomore Jerry Davis and redshirt freshman Alex Dennison to battle for the starting job. The Bulls are deep at runnning back with seniors Ide Nduka and Brandon Thermilus combining for more than 1,100 yards last season. An experienced offensive line led by second-team All-MAC selection Peter Bittner should allow for even bigger rushing numbers. On the defensive side of the ball, first-team Freshman-All American linebacker Steven Means is part of an improved linebacker core. Look out for second-team All-MAC cornerback Domonic Cook and free safety Davontae Shannon, first-team all-conference selection, in the secondary. UB will be tough to throw the ball against.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Head coach: Doug Martin (seventh year)
2009 record: 5-7, 4-4 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Murray State (Sept. 2), at Boston College (Sept. 11), at Penn State (Sept. 18), vs. Army (Nov. 13)
Breakdown: Kent State could turn out to be a surprise this season in the East. The Golden Flashes return sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith (2,147 yards, 14 touchdowns) and receivers Eugene Jarvis and Kendrick Pressley. Running back Eugene Jarvis returns after sitting out most of last season with injury. Despite rushing for only 158 yards before going down, Jarvis ranks fourth on KSU’s career rushing list with 3,426 yards. Junior Jacquise Terry rushed for 649 yards last season in Jarvis’ place and could compliment his nicely. Its offensive line returns three starts from last season, however Pat Reedy is being moved to tight end. The defensive line is without Kevin Hogan and Aaron Hull, who combined for 70 tackles and 10 sacks last season.
Head coach: Mike Haywood (second year)
2009 record: 1-11, 1-7 MAC
Non-conference schedule: at Florida (Sept. 4), vs. Colorado State (Sept. 18), at Missouri (Sept. 25), at Cincinnati (Oct. 9)
Breakdown: Head coach Mike Haywood enters his second season in Oxford, Ohio, after an ugly 2009. Working in his favor is that 20 starters return, the most of any team in the MAC. Quarterback Zac Dysert put up decent numbers last season, throwing for 2,611 yards and 12 touchdowns. All three of his receivers are back, including senior Armand Robinson, who had 788 yards receiving. The offensive line returns three seniors, while the defense returns three starters. MU has the potential to compete for a MAC East crown following its one-win season last year. Look for a much-improved RedHawks in 2010.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Head coach: Jerry Kill (third year)
2009 record: 7-6, 5-3 MAC
Non-conference schedule: at Iowa State (Sept. 2), vs. North Dakota (Sept. 11), at Illinois (Sept. 18), at Minnesota (Sept. 25)
Breakdown: Predicted by many to win the MAC West Division, NIU returns eight starters on offense, including junior quarterback Chandler Harnish and senior running back Chad Spann. Harnish threw for 1,670 yards and 11 touchdowns while Spann rushed for more than 1,000 yards. The offense line is stacked with juniors and seniors on both sides. The defensive line took a blow in the offseason with the departure of First-Team All-MAC defensive end Jake Coffmann and Second-Team All-MAC defensive end Brandon Bice.
Head coach: Frank Solich (sixth year)
2009 record: 9-5, 7-1 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Wofford (Sept. 4), at Ohio State (Sept. 18), at Marshall (Sept. 25), vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Oct. 30)
Breakdown: OU looks to compete for another MAC East crown. The Bobcats lost quarterback Theo Scott, leaving senior Boo Jackson and Iowa State transfer Phil Bates to compete for the starting job. LaVon Brazill, a first-team All-MAC punt returner and second-team All-MAC receiver, lead the receiving corp that includes two other seniors. A.J. Strum, Joe Flading and Eric Herman combined to start 31 games last season. First-Team All-MAC linebacker Noah Keller (115 tackles, two sacks, one interception) heads a younger linebacker unit after Lee Renfro (110 tackles, two sacks) graduated following the 2009 season. The offensive lines returns three starters while the defensive line returns four, making OU solid in the trenches and another legitimate contender for a MAC East title.
Head coach: Al Golden (fifth year)
2009 record: 9-4, 7-1 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Villanova (Sept. 3), vs. Connecticut (Sept. 18), at Penn State (Sept. 25), at Army (Oct. 2)
Breakdown: Temple has made an incredible turnaround after being kicked out of the Big East in 2004. The Owls had their first winning season in 18 years last year and are the favorites to win the MAC East this season. Junior quarterback Chester Stewart returns, but it really doesn’t matter who’s behind center when you have sophomore running back Bernard Pierce. Named first-team All-MAC and MAC freshman of the year, Pierce rushed for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns. The school has even launched an early Heisman Trophy campaign for him. When Stewart does decide to throw, he’ll have a diverse set returning wide receivers to choose from. Senior Michael Campbell and juniors Joe Jones and James Nixon combined for more than 1,000 yards receiving. The offensive line is loaded with experience with three seniors and two juniors, including first-team All-MAC selection Colin Madison. On defense, the Owls are just as loaded, featuring first-team defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and MAC Defensive Player of the Year Adrian Robinson. First-team All-MAC Elijah Joseph leads one of the best linebacker units in the conference, while the safety includes second-team All-MAC kick returner Marquise Liverpool and first-team All-MAC safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. This team is loaded and, barring any significant injury bug, will cruise through the East.
Head coach: Tim Beckman (second year)
2009 record: 5-7, 4-4 MAC
Non-conference schedule: vs. Arizona (Sept. 3), at Purdue (Sept. 25), vs. Wyoming (Oct. 2), at Boise State (Oct. 9)
Breakdown: The core is built for Beckman, but there are still missing pieces in Toledo. The Rockets return four starters on the offensive line, two on the defensive line and three in the secondary, but are without reliable skill players on offense. Aaron Opelt, who threw 1,997 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, graduated. Sophomore Austin Danton and junior Alex Pettee will compete for the quarterback position while sophomore wide receiver Eric Page (1,159 yards, seven touchdowns to earn First-Team All-MAC awards) will be expected to lead a fairly young receivers unit. Senior linebacker Archie Donald had 116 tackles last season.
CM Life MAC Football Picks
3. Kent State
5. Bowling Green
1. Northern Illinois
2. Central Michigan
3. Western Michigan
5. Ball State
6. Eastern Michigan
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