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Monday, August 9, 2010
Around the MAC

By Andrea Adelson

Let us check in with the MAC, to see what happened at media days and find out how the start of fall practice is going.

Preseason favorite: Temple was selected to win the East, while Northern Illinois was picked to win the West.

News and notes: Though the conference media gathering was several weeks ago, it is still worth pointing out that BCS chief Bill Hancock stopped by and held a news conference. He unleashed this gem of a quote: “You MAC schools, you athletes, you are this close to making it in. Don’t forget that.” Gee, thanks for the pep talk.

As a quick reminder, no MAC school has made it into a BCS game. No MAC school has ever come close. Of course, it is Hancock’s job to tout the wonders of the BCS, and yes, it is conceivable for a MAC school to make it in. But how close is a MAC school? For one, there are none ranked in the coaches’ preseason Top 25. For another, one would have to go undefeated. And for another, one would have to trump the non-AQ teams standing ahead of them.

New QB faces: Central Michigan and Western Michigan go into the season without two of the more recognizable faces in the MAC: quarterbacks Dan LeFevour and Tim Hiller. All-MAC QB Tyler Sheehan is also gone from Bowling Green. LeFevour re-wrote a number of MAC, NCAA and school records at Central Michigan, becoming the first player in NCAA history to pass for 12,000 yards and rush for 2,500. Ryan Radcliff, a sophomore, has emerged as the front-runner to replace LeFevour.

But now that fall practice is underway, there is an open competition. Among the others in the mix: junior Derek Rifenbury, redshirt freshman A.J. Westendorp, true freshman Kyle Smith and junior college transfer Brandon Fricke. Radcliff is the only quarterback on the roster who has attempted a pass in a game for the Chips.

Meanwhile at Western Michigan, Alex Carder won the job in the spring to replace Hiller, who set school records for career passing yards and total offense. Carder is a much more vocal leader, so look for some differences when watching the Broncos play this season.

More QBs: There are several other QB battles to watch this fall in the MAC. At Ohio, coach Frank Solich said after the spring the job was wide open between Phil Bates, Boo Jackson and Tyler Tettleton. Jackson had the starting job last season before sustaining a shoulder injury that also kept him out during the spring. Bates, a transfer from Iowa State, sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules and played very well in the spring with Jackson sidelined.

At Buffalo, the competition to replace the departed Zach Maynard is ongoing between Jerry Davis and Alex Dennison. Davis and Dennison are splitting the reps during practice as they learn the new spread offense, and new coach Jeff Quinn hasn’t ruled out playing both of them.

At Bowling Green, redshirt freshman Matt Schilz is listed ahead of Kellen Pagel in the competition to replace Sheehan.

At Toledo, sophomore Austin Dantin and junior Morgan Williams are competing to take over the starting job from Aaron Opelt. Dantin served as the backup last season. Side note on Toledo -- coach Tim Beckman is going to move into the dorms with his players during fall practice, carrying on the tradition he started last season.