2011 MAC Blogger Roundtable, championship week
For the final MAC Blogger Roundtable of 2011 (unless we do a bowl edition), Tim Riordan of Bull Run, who’s worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the roundtable going this year, posed the questions.
1) What was the best thing you saw from your team and can they maintain that next season?
The run blocking was tremendous! It starts with the offensive line, and 83% of the starters will be back (the only departure will be senior Bridger Buche, who started 10 games, missing two with a leg injury). There are six returning players who each started at least four games this year (Korey Neal, Corey Watman, Andrew Sorgatz, Campbell Allison, Lincoln Hansen, and Scott MacLeod) and several more with game experience. Ron English almost has an entire offensive line coming in the 2012 recruiting class, and the depth means that most or all of them will be able to redshirt — a luxury EMU hasn’t always had — setting up a strong offensive line for years to come. EMU also got great blocking from the recievers and tight ends, and most of them will also be back. The only departures will be Trey Hunter (six starts) and Corey Welch (one start).
Add in four returning players who ran for over 500 yards each (Alex Gillett, Javonti Greene, Dominique White, and Dominique Sherrer), and EMU figures to have one of the best running games in the nation in 2012.
2) What was the worst thing you saw from your team and can they correct that this season?
Fans have been griping about the offensive play-calling all year, and rightly so. Whether it was the goal-line offense, the stubborn refusal to throw on “running downs” despite opponents stuffing the box, or the almost-complete lack of misdirection plays, there was a general lack of creativity on offense, and an unwillingness to make adjustments to take advantage of what opposing defenses were doing. Of course, I hope that with so many returning players on offense, we’ll see a more varied playbook, but I’m not optimistic.
3) Where did your season line up with expectations?
My pre-season prediction was for 5 or 6 wins, which EMU managed. I did get a few games wrong; I expected them to beat either Ball State or Kent State while losing to Western Michigan.
4) MACC predictions and all the number of bowls the conference gets.
Northern Illinois will beat Ohio for the championship, with a final score somewhere around 27-21. Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, and Temple will get bowl bids. Depending on how many schools end up bowl-eligible and willing to go (e.g. University of Miami is 6-6 and eligible but staying home, Ohio State is also 6-6 and eligible but may preemptively do the same rather than risk a post-season ban next year), Ball State will probably be the first team left out.
5) Final rankings
2. Northern Illinois
4. Western Michigan
6. Ball State
7. Eastern Michigan
8. Kent State
9. Bowling Green
11. Central Michigan