On Saturday I took a look at Central Michigan in general and today I get to take a look at what the Chippewas' offense will look like come September 1st.
BOLD implies returning starter
Quarterback: Dan LeFevour
Central Michigan will open the year with (most likely) 7 quarterbacks on their roster, but there is no question who is #1 on the depth chart. While we are still scrambling to find a starter, even while just about everyone with a take on the situation believes it will be Kerry Meier in the end, they have a well established starter in sophomore redshirt Dan LeFevour, their starter all of last season as well. Danny played exceptional for stretches last season, including a 360-yard performance against the Mike Archer-led Kentucky defense. Combined with his stretches of brillance through the air, he also is a proficient running quarterback running as often as 18 times last year (vs. Ball State) and 2 TD's (vs. Boston College and vs. Ball State) and helps the more and more obvious comparison to our own Kerry Meier. Both are going to be redshirt sophomores, both given the job as freshmen and while LeFevour hung onto his and Meier gave it up by either injury or poor play, the comparison goes beyond their class. They are both 6'3" 215 (at least according to their bio pages) and both are semi-running quarterbacks. However, I think that LeFevour, mainly due to the more playing time he received last season, is the more developed quarterback and will out play Meier come September 1st.
Other Possible Factors: Brian Brunner
Runningback: Ontario Sneed
For the third year in a row Ontario Sneed figures to come into the season as the Chippewas' starting runningback. After being the full-time runningback as a freshman with 220 carries he began to split time last season with Marcel Archer, a sophomore-to-be who stole away 84 carries and 335 yards from Sneed. Add to the fact that a running QB in LeFevour took over the reins of the offense and there you have the significant lack of production. However, this little threesome of running prowess could lead their team to an even better year this season. While Sneed will remain the starter in the true sense of the word, having a backup of comparable talent is the rage in the NFL which means it will start to spread across campuses nationwide. One would not pick Mt. Pleasant (not Kalamazoo, that is where Western Michigan is located; sorry for my mistake in my last post) as one of the first places to have this kind of setup, but yet here we are with a perfect example. Add LeFevour to the equation and we have a very good running game, quite possibly the best in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
Other Possible Factors: Troy Doane
Wide Receiver: Bryan Anderson, Obed Cetoute and
Does this team have any talent that isn't young? The receiving corps is led by yet another young gun, this time in sophomore Bryan Anderson. He caught as many as 8 balls in a game last season, ending up with 73 catches for 867 yards and 5 TD's. I think some receivers had those stats against us in one game last year with how bad our secondary was, hopefully we can actually put some talent around Aquib Talib next season back there. Otherwise, the LeFevour-Anderson combination will be said repeatedly throughout the game as the 6'5" Anderson is very talented. They actually lost the guy (Damien Linson) with the second most production last season to graduation and will have to replace him with Obed Cetoute. He has increased his production each year and figures to see another significant spike in production with the more playing time he will be given. Jemmy Jasmin figures to be the third starter. He is extremely fast and could give our backfield loads of trouble.
Other Possible Factors: Justin Gardner, Vince Hendon
Tight End Sam Williams
Yet another young part of the team is TE Sam Williams, although a possibly unproductive one. He only caught 10 passes all of last season as the starting tight end, including not catching a single one in the final 5 games. He wasn't a factor at all in the Red Zone either, catching as many TD's as I did last season. Zero. Remember though, with the new West Virginia coach coming in and the spread formation figured to be implemented a TE will be a less valuable commodity. Instead we will see plenty of 4 and 5 WR sets in Lawrence and for the Chippewas' sake, Sammy might stay on the bench for a little longer than expected. Especially given the sad state of our defensive backfield.
Other Possible Factors: Allen Ollenburger
Two of their five starters last year, LT Joe Staley and C Drew Mormino, were both drafted in this spring's draft, giving you an idea of how good this line was. And despite losing the two best pieces (including one of the best LT's in college football in Joe Staley) they will still put together an above average unit. Here is a look at a possible starting offensive line, but keep in mind that offensive line is probably the most fluid position on offense and it's only June 11th. Think of that as a disclaimer if you will...
Left Tackle: Andrew Hartline
While Hartline has always had the talent for the left tackle position, one Joe Staley has always stood in the way. So Andrew has been the starter at right tackle the past couple of seasons and now figures to head on over to the other side of the line now that Staley has moved on to the NFL.
Left Guard: Eric Tunney
Tunney, a senior this upcoming season, has started at both guard positions throughout his college career and while he was most recently at right guard, I think he will move back over to make room for Andrew Cribbs. Tunney is a converted defensive tackle and figures to be a better run blocker at a light 290 pounds than at pass protection. Yet another reason for the coach to run the ball some more.
Center: Mike Decker
While Joe Staley received all of the attention last year on the Chippewas' offensive line, Drew Mormino was quietly becoming one of the best centers in the college game. He was a smallish center and was more of a road grader, much like his replacement in Mike Decker. Decker is only 6'1" 282 which is extremely small for an offensive lineman, another reason for Coach Jones to get the offensive line moving and run the ball more. With how small these guys are a zone blocking scheme might work wonders, but that isn't the West Virginia spread offense that Butch is used to. Of course, the 'Eers center last year, Dan Mozes, was a bit on the smaller side as well.
Right Guard: Andrew Cribbs
After being the primary backup to both guard positions last year, it is time for Cribbs to step in and become a full time player on the right side. He could also play left guard, just figured that Tunney was forced to move out of necessity last year and is a natural LG so I allowed him to move back there. Cribbs is an anomaly on this line with great size compared to the undersized Tunney and Decker. Cribbs stands an imposing 6'5" 309, a weight that would admittedly be hard to run in.
Right Tackle: Colin Miller?
I really have absolutely no idea on this one. With Hartline switching over to the left side there really is no replacement ready on the right. I just went with a freshman with decent size for the position (6'3" 270) most likely implying his readiness to play in the MAC. That was Colin Miller. Granted that isn't super-duper ready but much more than the other freshman. Just something to keep in the back of your minds, watch out for the name "Jake Olson". He kind of reminds me what Joe Staley must have looked like coming into Mt. Pleasant as Mr. Olson stands an imposing 6'8" but only weighs a slim 240. With a likely redshirt year this year and a couple more years in the weight room he could just be the next major pro prospect out of Central Michigan. Maybe.
RETURNING STARTERS: 7 (QB, RB, WR (2), TE, T, G)
INCOMING STARTERS: 5 (WR, C, T, G)
Next, I will take a look at their defense on Tuesday.