>Pre-Season Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas

>Pre-Season Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas

zz College Football Zealots

>Pre-Season Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas

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>2009 Record: 12-2 (8-0 in MAC)
2009 Bowl: GMAC Bowl (Beat Troy 44-41)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: #23
Head Coach: Dan Enos (First Year at Central Michigan)
Non-Conference Schedule: Hampton (9/2), at Northwestern (9/25), at Virginia Tech (10/9), at Navy (11/13)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 33.9 points per game (1st in MAC, 13th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 168 (3rd in MAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 255 (5th in MAC)
Total Yards/Game: 423 (2nd in MAC) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 18.9 points per game (1st in MAC, 17th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 122 (2nd in MAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 221 (9th in MAC)
Total Yards/Game: 344 (4th in MAC)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.36 per game (3rd in MAC)
Penalties: 50 yards per game (7th in MAC)

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 5
Kicker/Punter: 1

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Ryan Radcliff, Soph (10 of 21 for 115 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT)
Rushing: RB Carl Volny, Sr (82 carries for 390 yds, 3 TD, 5.8 ypc, 27 ypg)
Receiving: WR Kito Poblah, Sr (53 rec, 681 yds, 4 TD, 3.8 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Nick Bellore, Sr (132)
Sacks: DT Sean Murnane, Sr (3.5); NG John Williams, Jr (3.5)
Interceptions: LB Nick Bellore, Sr (2); FS Dannie Bolden, Jr (2)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Sporting News: #73
Athlon Sports: #95

2010 Pre-Season MAC West Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #3
Phil Steele: #5

Central Michigan has gone 32-7 in the last 5 years in MAC competition and has been a dominant force in the conference. Head Coach Butch Jones has exited after 3 years (he was 20-3 in the MAC) to take the Cincinnati job. Also gone is NFL Draft Pick QB Dan LeFevour. LeFevour left Central Michigan with the most TDs in NCAA FBS history with 149. LeFevour also holds the MAC records for career completions, attempts, passing yards, passing TDs, and total offensive yards. To say he leaves big shoes to fill who be a huge understatement. Central Michigan will be breaking in a new QB and a new coach this year. We reached out to Kyle Warber, who covers the Chippewas for MLive and Scout.com, to find out what to expect from the 2010 Central Michigan Chippewas.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

The major strength of the 2010 Central Michigan Chippewas is the defense. While CMU lost a great defensive end and a couple great defensive backs to graduation, they return everybody else and some of the underclassman like safety Jahleel Addea look to be better than the players they are replacing.

The major weakness is our untested QB Ryan Radcliff, who could turn out to be an excellent player but given his prior outings — two pick sixes — he leaves something to be desired. We also lack athleticism at the wide receiver position with the departure of wide receiver Antonio Brown to the NFL.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test?

The Temple Owls might have been the best team in the MAC last year, but they flopped against Ohio, and never got to face CMU in the MAC Championship Game. CMU plays Temple at Philadelphia in their second game of the year. Most people — myself included — feel this will be a preview of who is going to win the championship in December. Temple is definitely the early favorites but Central Michigan could change that with a solid showing in their first game against Hampton on September 2nd.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

It’s pick your poison for Central Michigan. The only break we get is getting to play our biggest rival Western Michigan at home. After that we will play pre-season favorite Northern Illinois in De Kalb, IL and rising power Toledo at their place as well. These are road venues that Central Michigan rarely wins and will certainly be a challenge for a rebuilding Chippewas team.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Sophomore Jahleel Addea is a 5-10 heat seeking missile who Central Michigan was able to land despite offers from Iowa State and West Virginia. He played sparingly last year due to our loaded secondary, but he is shaping to be one of the best safeties Central Michigan has ever had. I am so high on him that I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes first team defense in the MAC and potentially the defensive player of the year.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Our good defense (haha)? In all honesty, the best player on our offense might be either of our two running backs. Junior Paris Cotton is game tested — he tied our game with a great TD catch against Michigan State last year — and he could have a break out season in our new power running game. And then there is Tim Phillips. Nobody has more more hype on our offense going into 2010 than the 5-foot-5 Phillips who could never get past his injuries in 2009, and is looking for redemption in 2010.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Linebacker Nick Bellore is the captain of the defense and probably the most respected player on the team. He is just a hard worker in the mold of all those great Chicago Bear’s linebackers like Brian Urlacher, who bring a lunch pail to work and create absolute havoc when it’s game time..

What player needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it’s full capability?

Sophomore QB Ryan Radcliff has more pressure on him than any other player on the team. Right now things are shaping up to be like that recent Bears Super Bowl team or CMU; that Bears team who got to the promise land thanks to their defense and just asked wild man QB Rex Grossman to limit his turnovers and score at least two touchdowns. There is no doubt in my mind that the members of the defense are just begging Radcliff to just manage the offense and get a couple scores so they can do the rest.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Deon Butler is a 6-foot-4 wide receiver who would have been headed to Michigan State or Michigan if he played football as a junior. In his first season catching touchdown passes for Inkster High School (Inkster, Mich.) he was a dominant force who led his team to the D-II Championship Game. I expect him to start as a true freshman for the Chippewas.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

We took one JUCO defensive back from Grand Rapids Community College named Anthony Hollis who is expected to come in and contribute right away. He also reported an offer from Illinois and the CMU coaches are very confident in his talents.

Who is your pick to win the MAC this year (excluding Central Michigan)?

Temple has everything going for it, and it would be a major upset if they didn’t win the title in 2010.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

The expectations for this team are very high. If we lose to our rival Western Michigan or fail to compete for another title you will hear fans calling for our new coach Dan Enos to be fired. After three championships in four years can you blame them? I am predicting a 7-5 campaign in 2010 with losses to Temple, Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Toledo, and Northern Illinois.

Follow the MAC action this year by reading Kyle’s stuff at MLive and Scout.com. Follow him on twitter @FireUpChips.

Previous MAC Previews 
Ball State Cardinals
Bowling Green Falcons
Buffalo Bulls
Temple Owls 
Toledo Rockets

Next Up: Colorado State Rams

2010 Previews
ACC- Boston College Eagles, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Maryland Terrapins
Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston CougarsTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MWC- UNLV Rebels, Utah Utes
Pac-10- Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies

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