Friday Primer: MAC Championship Preview

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Friday Primer: MAC Championship Preview
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

MAC championship game
Central Michigan vs. Ohio
(Tonight, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN 2)

Prospects to keep an eye on:

Central Michigan

Dan LeFevour: No. 13, QB, 6-3, 238

One of the nation’s most overrated quarterback prospects, LeFevour has been awfully productive throughout his career but isn’t asked to make many NFL-type throws and lacks the ideal arm strength and accuracy to try to get the ball down the field.

Antonio Brown: No. 27, WR, 5-10, 182

A dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands who has the ability to consistently get down the field vertically and separate on all levels. Also doubles as a very gifted return man and is one of the MAC’s top NFL prospects.

Bryan Anderson: No. 7, WR, 6-5, 215

A king-sized receiving threat who possesses impressive body control for a guy his size. However, he plays at one speed and lacks the burst to separate vs. NFL-caliber corners at the next level.

Frank Zombo: No. 98, DE, 6-3, 269

Plays with a good motor and works hard to disengage but doesn’t display the type of athleticism to reach the corner and be much of a threat off the edge in the NFL.


Ohio

Taylor Price: No. 23, WR, 6-1, 212

Possesses an intriguing blend of size and speed and has the ability to consistently threaten defenses vertically. However, he isn’t real shifty off the line and struggles to beat press coverage and get into his routes quickly vs. physical corners.

Thad Turner: No. 12, CB, 5-11, 183

A corner who really caught my eye a couple weeks ago and possesses the length and speed to efficiently play press coverage. It will be interesting to see how he handles the talent of the Central Michigan receiving corps.

Others worth watching:

Ernie Hodge: No. 95, DT, 6-2, 295

Bryan Anderson APCentral Michigan WR Bryan Anderson

Scout’s key matchup

Central Michigan WR Bryan Anderson vs. Ohio CB Thad Turner

Coming into the year, Central Michigan’s Bryan Anderson was considered one of the nations top wide receiver prospects. His 6-5 frame paired with his ball skills and body control simply made him too much for most MAC corners to handle down the field.

However, after watching him on tape last summer and repeatedly this year, he doesn’t strike me as a guy who can separate vs. athletic corners at the next level, as he struggles to generate any kind of a burst out of his breaks. Anderson has still caught 50 passes this season for 646 yards and will go down as one of the most productive receivers in the history of the MAC. But his inability to consistently escape press coverage and separate vs. man will definitely be a big concern tonight, especially going against the likes of Ohio cornerback Thad Turner.

Turner is a thinly built corner at 5-11, 183, but he showcases impressive length and does a great job getting his hands inside receivers initially off the snap and disrupting their timing in the pass game. Now, he possesses only average balance when asked to open up his hips and change directions, but he’s a gifted straight-line athlete who has the ability to consistently turn and run down the field and does a great job closing quickly on throws underneath.

I really can’t see Anderson creating much separation tonight vs. Turner on any area of the field. So the key will be Turner’s ability to get his head around in coverage, find the football and make a play on it. Because as we’ve seen in the past, Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour isn’t afraid to throw the ball up to Anderson when covered, knowing his big target will likely come down with it.

Key to the game

Dan LeFevour APExpect too much LeFevour for Ohio to handle tonight.

As a potential NFL prospect, I’m not very high on the overall skill set of Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour. However, from a college standpoint, he does a great job quickly distributing the football underneath and allowing his receivers to create for him after the catch. But what makes LeFevour so difficult to stop on a week-to-week basis is his ability to keep drives alive with his feet and beat you once he breaks containment outside the pocket.

LeFevour has rushed for 650 yards with 14 touchdowns and forces defensive coordinators to either play nearly exclusively zone coverage to keep an eye on him if/when he decides to take off, or consistently use a defender to spy him underneath. Either way, he’s done a great job making sound decisions with the football all year and consistently is able to feel pressure around him and take off when needed.

Ohio needs to be sure to keep LeFevour in the pocket, especially in third-and-long situations and tackle in space when given the opportunity. If not, the Bobcats are going to have a tough time getting the Central Michigan offense off the field and keeping points off the board.

The outcome

Central Michigan simply has too much talent on the offensive side of the ball for Ohio to keep pace with and is led by an experienced quarterback who knows how to beat opposing defenses through the air or on the ground. I like Central Michigan to coast to a big win and claim the MAC championship.

Follow me on Twitter: WesBunting

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