2. BALL STATE Quarterback Nate Davis is a big play waiting to happen, equally capable of beating foes with his arm or his feet. Diminutive tailback MiQuale Lewis (5-6/185) is looking to regain his form after suffering a knee injury last September.
3. KENT STATE This unit will be strength. Running back Eugene Jarvis is the nation's leading returning rusher (1,669 yards) and Andre Flowers will provide a great complement. Coaches need to settle on a quarterback after four were used last season because of injury.
4. NORTHERN ILLINOIS Quarterback Dan Nicholson is a decent passer with savvy and a quick release, but he must be over offseason shoulder surgery. Tailback Justin Anderson is tough, strong and durable, rumbling for more than 1,200 yards last season. Montell Clanton is back after injury ruined his 2007 season, giving NIU a great duo of backs.
5. BOWLING GREEN Lots of talent but no superstars in a versatile group of running backs led by Anthony Turner. Tyler Sheehan is a veteran, strong-armed quarterback.
6. BUFFALO Drew Willy has improved over the course of the past two seasons and just needs to be more consistent. There are two capable running backs, headed by 1,000-yard rusher James Starks.
7. TOLEDO The Rockets are set under center with Aaron Opelt, who continues to blossom for an explosive offense. Staffers feel running back DaJuane Collins can adequately replace standout Jalen Parmele.
11. MIAMI This is much to prove, as running back looks like a weak spot. Quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh is coming off an average season, and don't be shocked if touted redshirt freshman Clay Belton eventually takes over.
13. OHIO The quarterback spot has potential but remains unsettled with Theo Scott and touted junior college transfer Boo Jackson competing. A slew of running backs will try to replace 1,000-yard rusher Kalvin McRae. It can't be done.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
1. BALL STATE Tight end Darius Hill and wide receiver Dante Love, who combined to catch 165 passes and 21 TDs last season, form a deadly duo. Each will play on Sundays. It would help if one more wide receiver emerged as a 30-catch guy.
4. BOWLING GREEN All the key players are back at the team's deepest position. Freddie Barnes is the leader of the group. His 82 catches last season were third-most in school history. Corey Partridge catches just about everything.
5. TOLEDO Stephen Williams is a rangy target who can be dominating. Nick Moore is another dependable option in a strong passing attack. Each could be an All-MAC selection.
6. OHIO The Bobcats return four of their top six pass-catchers, including second-team All-MAC tight end Andrew Mooney. He set a school record with nine touchdown receptions in 2007.
7. BUFFALO Naaman Roosevelt, a former quarterback, is a steady target who always gets open. But a down-field threat is needed to open up defenses.
8. TEMPLE Jason Harper led the Owls in rushing last year but now is a wide receiver. He'll help 2007 All-MAC wideout Bruce Francis, an explosive option, be even better. Dy'Onne Crudup is another to watch.
9. MIAMI A weakness last year is now a strength. There's a litany of sure-handed pass catchers with speed. And there is a trio of fifth-year senior tight ends.
10. NORTHERN ILLINOIS Nothing flashy here, but Britt Davis and Matt Simon are reliable options who move the chains.
11. KENT STATE Improvement is needed, as the Flashes finished last in the MAC in passing. Of course, part of that was that quarterback was a revolving door. One big addition to the group will be tight end Jameson Konz, who moved from linebacker in the spring and is the best athlete on the team.
6. KENT STATE Tackle Augustus Parrish will anchor what otherwise will be a young group. Pass protection will be a key.
7. MIAMI This unit looks solid. Three of five starters are back, led by third-team all-league guard Dave DiFranco. Keep an eye on redshirt freshman guard Brandon Brooks, who could be a future star.
8. WESTERN MICHIGAN Problems could crop up if youngsters such as projected left tackle Anthony Parker, a redshirt freshman, struggle.
9. OHIO This group returns three of five starters but will have to replace the right side.
10. BOWLING GREEN Trouble looms in what is the team's biggest area of concern. A new center and two new tackles will be broken in.
11. AKRON The unit needs an answer at center. Otherwise, the group is set with four starters back. Tackle Chris Kemme is one to watch.
12. TOLEDO Start worrying. If the big guys can't protect, it could ruin quarterback Aaron Opelt's confidence. The interior returns intact, but there are two new tackles. Redshirt freshman Mike VanDerMeulen gets the tough job of replacing standout tackle John Greco.
13. EASTERN MICHIGAN The left side of the line looks strong, paced by tackle T.J. Lang and guard Andy Fretz. But the other spots need to develop quickly.
2. TEMPLE This is a rugged three-man front that returns all three starters. It's also the strength of an underrated defense. Nose tackle Andre Neblett will play in the NFL. End Leyon Azubuike is another standout.
3. NORTHERN ILLINOIS This will be a strength in DeKalb, with three starters back. Don't be shocked if end Larry English earns some All-America mention.
4. MIAMI This group looks good with three starters returning from a line that paced the MAC in sacks. Ends Joe Coniglio and Travis Craven are the stars.
6. BUFFALO With three starters back, there's potential for this group to be salty against the run for a program that's improving fast.
7. CENTRAL MICHIGAN End Frank Zombo has the potential to be one of the best ends in the league, but CMU struggled to get pressure on the quarterback last season.
8. OHIO This could be the Bobcats' deepest position. Two-time All-MAC end Jameson Hartke is the leader.
9. KENT STATE The emergence of Monte Simmons at end in the spring solidified this group, which can go two-deep at every position.
10. AKRON The line may come together if Iowa transfer Ryan Bain is a cog at tackle inside. He'll be aided by two returning starters, including rising star Almondo Sewell at end, giving the Zips hope to be tough vs. the run.
11. TOLEDO There are many worries here for a unit that breaks in three new starters and got run over in 2007. Tackle Maurice Hill could be a breakout player for a defense that generated just nine sacks last year.
12. BALL STATE There's lots of work to do for a unit that lost three starters and often gets rag-dolled. It's hoped end Brandon Crawford, a 31-year-old ex-Marine, is an anchor for the Cardinals.
13. EASTERN MICHIGAN There are concerns here for the Eagles. Coaches need tackle Josh Hunt and end Spenser Smith to lead the way with star Jason Jones and Eric Young gone. Jones was an NFL draft pick.
1. MIAMI This is a corps without peer in the MAC and is led by reigning league defensive player of the year Clayton Mullins. Joe Hudson is a two-time all-conference pick. Staffers feel Caleb Bostic may be the best of the bunch. Oh, and depth is outstanding, too.
5. BUFFALO Youth was served last season, but the Bulls will reap the dividends of those growing pains. Strong safety Davonte Shannon was a freshman sensation in 2007. There's plenty of experience at cornerback.
6. TOLEDO This group has the chance to excel if a rebuilt front seven develops. Strong safety Barry Church is an NFL talent, while corner Desmond Marrow is someone to watch.
7. OHIO The Bobcats return three of four starters in corners Mark Parson and Julian Posey and strong safety Mike Mitchell. The trio combined for 17 pass breakups last season, and Mitchell was the third-leading tackler on the team.
8. EASTERN MICHIGAN All four starters are back, so staffers expect improved play. Free safety Ryan Downard is the star, making six interceptions and notching 43 tackles. Depth is decent, too.
9. NORTHERN ILLINOIS There are several proven and capable options at cornerback, headed by Chase Carter. He's a quarterback for the defense.
10. KENT STATE There is work to do. Rico Murray needs to assume Jack Williams' role as a shut-down corner. The rest of the starters are athletic but young.
11. BALL STATE The cornerback duo of B.J. Hill and Trey Lewis is solid. Hill made 77 stops last season and paced the club with five picks.
12. CENTRAL MICHIGAN This unit is a work-in-progress after being shuffled in the spring. Cornerback Josh Gordy is the lone sure thing.
13. AKRON This unit was burned often last fall, allowing 24 TD passes. Bryan Williams, a former all-league running back, may be a surprise at strong safety.
1. MIAMI Every vital cog is back, including the holder and snapper. Punter Jacob Richardson is one of the nation's best, but the kicking needs to become steadier. Return men Eugene Harris and Jamal Rogers are big-play threats.
3. BOWLING GREEN This may be the Falcons' best set of special teams in years. Kicker Sinisa Vrvilo and punter Nick Iovinelli are back. Roger Williams is one of the nation's most underrated return men.
4. AKRON Bryan Williams and Andre Jones are big plays waiting to happen in the return game. More good news: The punter (John Stec) and kicker (Igor Iveljic) are back.
5. BALL STATE While the kicking is a work-in-progress, there's no doubt that Chris Miller is one of the nation's top punters.
6. WESTERN MICHIGAN Everyone's fingers are crossed as the Broncos break in a new punter and a new kicker. This could prove costly.
7. TEMPLE There's good athletic ability for the coverage and return games. Kicker Jake Brownell is decent but lacks oomph. Jeff Wathne is back to punt.
8. OHIO The Bobcats look to replace first-team All-MAC kicker Michael Braunstein. Ohio returns punter Matt Schulte but will need to replace long-snapper Ryan Senser, who was signed as a free agent by the New Orleans Saints.
9. TOLEDO There will be a new punter, but the Rockets will be bolstered by the return of kicker Alex Steigerwald - one of the MAC's best. He was 13 of 13 on field-goal attempts last season. The return and coverage teams need to improve.
10. NORTHERN ILLINOIS All of the keys pieces are back except for one: kicker Joe Nendick. Too bad, because he was one of the best in the nation.
11. BUFFALO A.J. Principe looks to take the next step as a kicker after a solid debut last season. The punting spot is still developing. Naaman Roosevelt is a threat on punt returns.
12. KENT STATE Nate Reed is one of the MAC's better kickers. The punting is iffy, and freshmen may be needed. The return game should be solid.
13. EASTERN MICHIGAN Zach Johnson kicks and punts. A lack of athletic ability hinders coverage teams.
3. CENTRAL MICHIGAN Butch Jones is one of the nation's hot coaches. He kept his staff intact, which hasn't happened in Mount Pleasant in more than a decade. And the staff has lots of ties to the university, either as former players or assistants under previous head coaches.
4. MIAMI Shane Montgomery is good, having won two East titles in his three seasons. But he has an overall losing record. Defensive coordinator Jay Hood oversaw a unit that led the conference in most categories in 2007.
5. BALL STATE Brady Hoke may not be long for Muncie. Last season, he led the program to its first bowl since 1996. Offensive coordinator Stan Parrish is a master at developing quarterbacks.
7. TEMPLE Al Golden is a looming force who slowly is putting his stamp on the program. Credit defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio for building the best defense you've never heard of.
8. TOLEDO Tom Amstutz seems to have lost his magic touch. Chris Hedden takes over as offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Tim Rose needs to fix the defense.
9. BUFFALO Turner Gill continues to grow into this job and may be destined for bigger things if he keeps making the Bulls better. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Williams does a great job maximizing the talent he has.
10. AKRON J.D. Brookhart is a smart, savvy coach. His cause is being bolstered by some of the best facilities in the MAC.
11. NORTHERN ILLINOIS Jerry Kill takes over for Joe Novak, bringing impressive credentials from I-AA Southern Illinois. Kill should thrive for a program that has good resources.
12. KENT STATE Continuity is good, and this staff has it. The group enters its third season together with a combined 38 years of experience at Kent State.
13. EASTERN MICHIGAN Jeff Genyk is a cerebral tactician who almost always has lesser talent.