For this week’s MAC Blogger Roundtable, we were asked a few questions by Let’s Go Rockets, the Toledo football blog.
Here’s a complete list of the blogs involved in the roundtable:
Over The Pylon - Ball State
Maroon Musket - UMass
Saddle Up, Fight On - Western Michigan
The Chip Report - Central Michigan
Eagle Totem - Eastern Michigan
Red and Black Attack - Northern Illinois
Bull Run - Buffalo
Hustle Belt - The Conference
Let’s Go Rockets - Toledo
Falcon Blog - Bowling Green
1) Ohio has the best record in the MAC at 6-0. Are they truly the best team in the conference or is their success a product of a favorable schedule?
I think the Bobcats are the toughest team in the MAC, but I’m not so sure they’re the best.
Ohio has a stout defense, but it seems to have a tough time defending the pass. I think it’s a deficiency that everyone knows about: There have been more pass attempts (259) against the Bobcats than any other team in the MAC. There is little doubt that the loss of cornerbacks Jamil Shaw and Travis Carrie hurts.
Unfortunately for Ohio, the MAC is a pretty pass-heavy conference. Against the right quarterback, the Bobcats will be exposed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami shocks them in Oxford on Oct. 27.
If Ohio is able to get through the regular season unscathed, I’m not sure they can beat Toledo at Ford Field (Yes, that’s my prediction). Despite their obvious deficiencies on defense, the Rockets are probably the most talented team in the MAC. Their team speed is phenomenal, and it looks like years of quality recruiting is starting to pay off.
2) What has been the most surprising aspect of your team’s play so far this season? (offense/defense, personnel, coaching, play calls, etc.)
I’m not all that shocked with how things have looked for the Minutemen on the field. To me, the biggest surprise has been the night-and-day difference between FCS and FBS recruiting.
While there is a definite talent gap between the CAA and the MAC, I figured the recruiting process would be similar: Wait for the big schools to fill their classes, then try to get the best kids left behind.
I was completely wrong.
MAC schools are destinations for a certain type of recruit. I think the various recruiting services are helping kids recognize that not everyone goes to Michigan, but you don’t have to be a Wolverine to go to the NFL. The MAC, and other similarly situated conferences, are the last exit before FCS ball. I think that causes a lot of self-aware recruits to verbally commit early.
UMass fans have never seen this type of recruiting cycle. There is more information, more interest and, at the end of the day, more verbal commitments. Usually news regarding UMass commits starts to trickle in around December and January. This year, we broke the story of Todd Stafford committing back in March.
We’re just starting to see UMass venture into Rust Belt territory, specifically Indiana. That should lead to some interesting MAC recruiting battles and just maybe fuel a rivalry or two.
3) With nearly half the season complete, what game remains on your team’s schedule that is crucial to success or an indication of failure for the season?
For UMass, this season’s success hinges on getting at least one victory. It doesn’t matter where the win comes from – some fans just want a sign that the move the FBS wasn’t a mistake.
I haven’t gone in depth with the remaining opponents yet, but it appears the Minutemen may have two chances to pull out a victory. The Akron game on Nov. 10 strikes me as UMass’ best opportunity, but I think the Minutemen can compete with Buffalo the following weekend. The thing that scares me about the Bulls is their running game and UMass’ complete ineptitude against the rush.
Most realistic prognosticators would not be surprised to see UMass go winless this year. The newness of the whole thing still hasn’t quite settled. However, the constant improvement tells me that Charley Molnar’s system is starting to take hold. At this point, the players and coaches are looking for some validation that the hard work is paying off.
I think a win would do the trick.