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January 23 2020

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      Back Issues

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      Politics blog
  "Life in the UK"

      American Groups
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• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud

NCAA Preview 2009
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Mid–American Conference
Dan LeFevour's senior season isn't just the attention–grabber for Central Michigan, writes Richard L Gale, it's the key to a MAC championship. But not if Tyler Sheehan or Tim Hiller have anything to say about it. Once again, the MAC is not short of quality quarterbacks.

MAC East

100–Word Dash:  Bowling Green
With Nate Davis gone from Ball State, Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan should step up as the conference rival to Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour. The two compare arms October 24, but for an opportunity to meet again in the MAC Championship game, the Falcons have to be careful in the East Division. While Sheehan may be an NFL prospect, and he has decent returning targets, the team fields two new starters at corner and on the defensive line: shoot–outs will be great for Sheehan's stats, but they might cost the East. Small untested runner Willie Geter hardly seems the counter–balance.

100–Word Dash:  Akron
Former Pittsburgh and Stanford head coach Walt Harris arrives as QB coach, so senior Chris Jacquemain's already tidy stats could take another step forward. His catch corps returns nearly intact, and while the Zips lose RB Dennis Kennedy, fleeting glimpses of Alex Allen suggest a worthy replacement. The new InfoCision stadium can be the site of a winning season that final week when Eastern Michigan visit, but to challenge for the MAC East, Temple and Bowling Green must be taken care of before that. While their offense may edge the first, their defense may not match up for the second.

100–Word Dash:  Temple
Maybe I'm mad or biased (maybe both), but for the first time since the Carter administration, Temple could be bowl–bound. The D, especially the front seven, is robust enough to make up for a docile rushing game, but whether the narrow losses of last year (five by less than a touchdown, three on the last play) can be turned into wins this year depends on one of Chester Stewart or Vaughn Charlton becoming a clear leader rather than the least erratic passer. A seven win season and a share of the MAC East — they don't meet Bowling Green — is credible.

100–Word Dash:  Buffalo
Buffalo didn't have a good season in '08, — they had a MAC Championship season. With an experienced, though young defense — notably soft against the run last time out — they could push again in 2010, but this season could be more about working out the kinks. Star QB Drew Willy has departed and spindly sophomore Zach Maynard steps in behind a line that is rebuilding. At least the line has size, and Buffalo will load up on RB James Starks, who rushed for over 1300 yards and 16 TDs season. Problem is, opposing defenses will be loading up on him too.

100–Word Dash:  Ohio
The old adage 'If you have more than one quarterback, you don't have any' may be less true in college football than it is in the pros (see Chris Leak/Tim Tebow) but Boo Jackson — who threw 19 scores last season and ran for two more — needs not to hear about backup Theo Scott during his senior year. His mediocre surrounding cast on offense needs leadership and rhythm, and if it happens, there's enough complementary defense here to blow my MAC East rankings apart — the back seven includes six seniors, and the one junior — LB Noah Keller — is no slouch.

100–Word Dash:  Kent State
The success of Kent State's season relies on Eugene Jarvis not wearing down. Jarvis rushed for 1670 yards in '07, and while he missed a month last season, he carried well in big games, 139 yards v Iowa State, 185 off 34 carries v Temple, 150 v Buffalo. With dual–threat QB Julian Edelman and the receiving corps gone, 'handoff to Jarvis' could be metronomic. Or indeed metro–gnomic: Jarvis is 5'5" 170lb. Is an injury–free '09 credible? Fortunately for him, the defense may be poor enough that whoever quarterbacks will be forced to fling more often than the game plan asks.

100–Word Dash:  Miami (Ohio)
This looks a little like the perfect storm. A new coach — Mike Haywood, ex–offensive coordinator at Notre Dame (supply your own comments), the static and unspectacular Daniel Raudabaugh at QB, an offensive line so shuffled it may not know which way to face, a very inexperienced defense, and the beatable part of their schedule (Kent State, Ohio) on the road. In fact, by the time the team plays back–to–back games at home, they could be 1–6 en route to a last place finish in the MAC East. A winless season isn't impossible while all the new pieces find their place.

MAC West

Cent. Michigan
LeFevour fever went a little cold last season. After a 2007 campaign that saw LeFevour produced 4774 yards of offense and 46 combined TDs, Central Michigan set up shop next to the 2008 Big Ten media day and threw their quarterback's name into the Heisman chase. However, in an injury–affected season, LeFevour never had the big performances in big games — 250 yards and 2 TDs against Georgia was fine, but not big–league, the 361 yard day the next week was okay, but against Ohio it was not headline. The TD passes dropped from 27 to 21, and the scoring runs were down from 19 to a mere 6. In the MAC, those figures were so–so.

And now, LeFevour's senior year. His college swansong is hardly set up as a Heisman push — Arizona and Michigan State are road games to open the season, and Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Boston College are a three–game road trip in October. With only Toledo and Northern Illinois at home after October 10, the LeFevour's farewell could be muted if things don't fall well early on. And they might not, with both offensive tackles new to their position as starters — for a QB coming off a gimpy season (though LeFevour finished strong) that's not a situation without some disquiet. Another year without their offensive lynchpin at full fitness will be another year of settling for a minor bowl.

Then again, think of it the other way. LeFevour's receiving corps is intact, unlike some of his division rivals', and the defense returns almost completely intact, including starting DEs Sam Williams and Frank Zombo, who should provide some twists to games billed as QB shoot–outs. RB Ontario Sneed is gone with no automatic successor, but the rushing game always was a committee of LeFevour plus bit–part players. Special teams also play their part, so imagine if those road trips play out a little differently. Playing in Arizona aside, the Chippewas are a better team than the Wildcats, and if favoured Michigan State comes in sleepy after their own opener against FCS Montana State, LeFevour's back on the national radar. Boston College looks a lot like a 'W' for Central Michigan too. A repeat of last year's 8–5 season would be a certain disappointment, and if — IF — they can come away from Bowling Green with a win, they should be on the inside track for the MAC title.

100–Word Dash:  Northern Illinois
The most impressive thing about the Huskies' prospects for 2009 is they made a bowl in '08, when agile QB Chandler Harnish threw more picks than scores, and fellow freshman Me'co Brown dashed for less than 500 yards. A year on, with a talented line largely intact, their productivity should blossom. If the pass is more of a threat, the team is set, as the defense returns a good defensive front, and though the corners are a little green, packed special teams must be factored in as a significant third phase. That schedule–ending visit to Central Michigan could be massive.

100–Word Dash:  Western Michigan
Senior QB Tim Hiller looks like another of the big (6–5, 230lb) MAC quarterbacks that translate as NFL talent. The Broncos return a 1000–yard rusher and most of the line. What they don't have is most of last year's receivers. Also, sophomores pepper the defensive depth chart, with last year's secondary gone. Oh, how the draftniks are going to love Hiller's stats after this campaign! With decent special teams play, the Broncos are capable of stealing away a MAC championship, but if so, Hiller will have to do it over the vanquished bodies of Tyler Sheehan and Dan LeFevour.

100–Word Dash:  Ball State
Some have written off Ball State in 2009, and there are good reasons: Nate Davis, most his receivers and coach Brady Hoke are gone, the line is also starting over, and a lot of players are gone from the defensive back seven. Then again, didn't Davis detractors call this a 'system' offense? If so, coach Stan Parrish (promoted from offensive coordinator) and QB Kelly Page still should produce some numbers, with 1735–yard runner MiQuale Lewis still here. Expecting another bowl game seems a stretch, but expecting a 12–2 team (8–0 MAC) to crash and burn may be overstating the crisis.

100–Word Dash:  Toledo
Toledo still have backs DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams running behind last year's line — a combination worth 1700 yards — and QB Aaron Opelt is now in his fourth season. That solidity and stability still produced only 3 wins last season. Part of the reason was defense, which failed to frighten opposing passers and was largely absent against the run in 2008, and for that reason Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator Tim Beckman was selected as new Toledo head coach. Expect improvement there, but the non–conference schedule (Purdue, Colorado, Ohio State) destroys all hope of a breakthrough when it comes to wins.

100–Word Dash:  Eastearn Michigan
The Eagles have been a losing team for 14 years, and that situation is unlikely to change this year. The most recent cause of their futility — defense — may improve with the addition of defensive–minded coach Ron English, but with only four senior starters on that side of the ball, 2010's graduating class may reap the rewards in the win column. Offensively, Eastern Michigan can compete, with Andy Schmitt to Jacory Stone a combination to watch, but there's simply not enough to make up for the existing defense. There's a lot of recruiting to do before the Eagles can be contenders.

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