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Misc The MAC The MAC Archive The 2012 MAC Football Preview Part Two
Written by Mike Spinelli

Mike Spinelli

Football TCF Preview 2Welcome to Part Two of the 2012 MAC Football Preview. In Part 2 we finish off the West Division with the three heavy hitters, Western Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois. This trio is often referred to as the “Best in the West”.





WesternMichigan helmet

The Western Michigan Broncos have been playing football in Kalamazoo since 1906, and joined the MAC in 1947. Last year they finished with a 7-6 record, including a loss in the Little Caesar’s Bowl to Purdue. They are trying to regain their status from 1997-2000 as a MAC powerhouse.

Head coach Bill Cubit is 47-39 in seven years with the Broncos. His career record, 81-57-11 in 11 years. His offense features one of the MAC’s top quarterbacks, senior Alex Candor, who completed 63% of his passes for 3334 yards with 30 TD’s to go with 12 int’s. In five of his 12 games he passed for more than 400 yards. His receivers and tailbacks are all first-time starters though, with senior Eric Monette, Redshirt frosh Kendrick Roberts and Junior Josh Schaefer expected to win the starting spots. Juniors Brian Fields (2 starts last year) and Tevin Drake Jr. (3 starts in 2011) vie for the starting running back slot. The line returns 4 starters.

On the other side of the ball, defensive back Paul Hazel, tackle Demetris Anderson, and corner Dave Celiscar lead a defense returning seven starters. Gone is MAC Defensive Player of the Year DT Drew Nowak. First year coordinator is installing the 3-3-5 defense featuring Johnny Simon as “rover” (a combination linebacker/safety in the 3-3-5).  Simon led the team with 114 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Team success depends on Candor finding a rhythm with his new receiving corps, and the defense learning the new nickel D. Looking at their schedule (they host Toledo and Northern Illinois) and the number of  starters those teams lost this year, I have them travelling to Detroit for the conference championship this fall.


 The Toledo Rockets started playing pigskin in 1917, and joined the MAC in 1950. They’ve been ranked in the Top 25 four times, including a #12 ranking after their 12-0 1970 season. Brand new head coach Matt Campbell leads the Rockets into the new era of Rocket football, the youngest coach in Division I at 32. Matt replaces Tim Beckman who took the head coaching job at Illinois.

One thing that won’t change this season is the quarterbacking duo of senior Austin Dantin (66% completions for 962 yards and 4 TD) and junior Terrence Owens Jr. (60% completions for 1244 yards and 13 TD’s). The only other starter at a skill position is Wideout Bernard Reedy, who averaged 19.0 yards per catch. Other probable starters include RB David Fluellen and wideouts James Green and Dwight Macon. WR Corey Jones, who scored 39 TD last year in high school, will make an impact on the offense.

The Rockets also return only four starters on D, including DE T.J. Fatinikun, linebackers Dian Molls and Robert Bell, and strong safety Jermaine Robinson.

Despite the lack of lack of experience (including head coach), this is still the program that has gone 8-5 and 9-4 the past two seasons, and they’re not going away that easy. I have them finishing second in the West.

northern-illinoisNow onto DeKalb, Illinois to take a look at the Northern Illinois Huskies. The Huskies have been playing football since 1899, and joined the MAC in 1975 (and again in 1997). NIU head coach Dave Doerer is in his second year, after leading the Huskies to an 11-3 record last year.

The offense looks to replace eight starters, including quarterback. Junior Jordan Lynch looks to be the starter next week after garnering 13 passing yards and 362 rushing yards last year. Senior JUCO transfer Jamal Womble and junior Leighton Settle are expected to battle it out for the running back position. The receivers include returning starters Martel Moore, who averaged 12.8 yards per catch, totaling 714 yards, and Perez Ashford who gained 10.0 yards per catch tallying 289 yards. The line returns one starter.

The defense is a lot more experienced, with eight returning starters. Players to watch include DE Sean Progar, SS Jimmie Ward, and FS Dechante Durante. The defense looks to be the strength of the team again this year. The leading tackler, MLB Devon Butler, is fully recovered from an off-season shooting incident. The secondary looks strong again this year, an important ingredient in the MAC.

The defending MAC champions look to be among the West leaders again this season, the new faces on offense (and new OC Mike Dunbar) spell trouble for me, I rank them third in the MAC West.

In Part Three we move to the East Division, and visit Bowling Green, Buffalo, and UMass.

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