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The Ypsilanti Eleven's Mid-Season All-MAC Team of 2023
All-MAC seasons (so far) for offense and defenses, since we're exactly halfway through the MAC's conference schedule.
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Mid-week MACtion is on the horizon, which means the MAC season is halfway over.
Four games in, for everybody, to be exact.
The second-half of the MAC slate will pick up tomorrow with Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan and Miami at Ohio, but I’d like to recognize some standouts around this conference through its first-half performances.
Quarterback: Brett Gabbert (Miami OH)
Brett Gabbert’s season came to an end, but I can’t ignore how good of a year he had up to this point. Up to his tragic injury, Gabbert was the MAC’s leader in passing (1,634 yards), QBR (152.12), and had the highest touchdown throws percentage of all MAC starters at 7.49% (111/187 passing, 14 TD, 5 INT). Gabbert was well on his way to having a career year, and — who knows? — maybe the RedHawks would’ve come back in the second half to defeat Toledo at home last week.
Dequan Finn (Toledo)
Running back: Peny Boone (Toledo)
Toledo’s big, thick running back (6-1, 242 lbs.) is leading the MAC’s rushing efforts in every major category — carries (124), yards (865), rush average (6.98), rushing touchdowns (8), and game average (108.13 yards).
Antario Brown (NIU)
Terion Stewart (BGSU)
Wide receiver: Gage Larvadain (Miami), Jerjuan Newton (Toledo), Sam Wiglusz (Ohio)
Gage Larvadain has burst onto the scene with a league-best 572 receiving yards on 30 catches, and is second with 6 receiving scores, and has an outstanding average of 3.8 receiving yards per route run. Jerjuan Newton, on 29 catches for 379 yards, is second in the MAC with 379 receiving yards. Sam Wiglusz had a slower start to the year, but his last game (10 catches, 155 yards, 1 TD vs. WMU) helped get him on here.
Chrishon McCray (Kent State)
Jesse Prewitt III (CMU)
Junior Vandeross III (Toledo)
Kenneth Womack (WMU)
Tight end: Tanner Koziol (Ball State)
Not a deep race for the MAC’s TE1 chair, but it’s also not a deep race either. Tanner Koziol had a strong 2022 and has the best receiving stats for the current MAC tight ends: 29 catches, 247 yards, 2 TD.
Harold Fannin Jr. (BGSU)
Austin Hence (WMU)
Offensive line: Jacob Gideon (WMU), Nolan Potter (NIU), Nick Rosi (Toledo), Vinny Sciury (Toledo), Addison West (WMU)
Per Pro Football Focus, WMU center Jacob Gideon and right guard Addison West are the only two MAC linemen with 600+ snaps played played and pressure and sack rates lower than 1%. Vinny Sciury, Toledo’s left guard, has no sacks allowed and the second-best pressure rate (0.37%) of all starters. Nick Rosi hasn’t allowed a sack out of his left tackle spot, and Nolan Potter, NIU’s right tackle, has played over 500 snaps, hasn’t allowed a sack, and has been penalized just one time.
Kurt Danneker (Ohio)
Pete Nygra (NIU)
Isaiah Wright (Buffalo)
Defensive ends: C.J. Nunnally IV (Akron), Max Michel (Buffalo)
Akron’s C.J. Nunnally, by way of Jackson State (2021) and Independence Community College (2022), has been a bright spot for his team’s defense. Nunnally leads all MAC defensive ends with 10.5 tackles for loss, and third in sacks with 5. Caiden Woullard leads MAC DEs in sacks (6) and hurries (28) with one pass breakup and one forced fumble. He’s gotten a TFL in each MAC game this year and gotten a sack in all but the Toledo game.
Sidney Houston Jr. (Ball State)
Max Michel (Buffalo)
Brian Ugwu (Miami)
Interior D-line: Rayyan Buell (Ohio), Judge Culpepper (Toledo),
The interior defensive line is one of the hardest positions to come away with tackles from, but Rayyan Buell has gotten at least a share of a tackle for loss in every game this season. Why’s Ohio’s defense playing so well? Buell, a second-year NW Mississippi Community College transfer is killing it in his #0 uniform. Buell leads all interior MAC D-linemen with 10 tackles for loss (24 total tackles, 9 solo), and second in sacks (3.5). Judge Culpepper for Toledo, formerly of Penn State, has always been a steady player for the Rocket D-line, but he’s having his best season right now. Culpepper leads all MAC IDL with 5 sacks, and is second in TFL with 6.5 (24 total tackles, 7 solo).
Jacques Bristol (CMU)
James Ester (NIU)
C.J. West (Kent State)
Linebackers: Bryce Houston (Ohio), Dallas Gant (Toledo)
Dallas Gant of Toledo isn’t blitzing a ton to create more behind-the-line stats (5 TLF, 1 sack), but he’s got the highest grade of all MAC defenders by PFF (88.6) and has one of the lowest missed tackle rates (4.5%) for how many snaps he plays (521). Bryce Houston, with 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble, leads MAC linebackers with most turnovers responsible for. He’s also the the league’s linebackers’ tackles for loss leader (8), and is second in tackles (82) behind Joe Sparacio.
Darren Anders (BGSU)
Cole Pearce (Ball State)
Matt Salopek (Miami)
Joe Sparacio (EMU)
Safties: Devin Grant (Buffalo), Tate Hallock (WMU), Jordan Riley (Ball State)
Devin Grant ties the MAC lead with four interceptions — three in the Central Michigan game — and has the most solo tackles of any safety in the MAC (37). Tate Hallock of WMU has the most total tackles of MAC safeties (57) and is second-most in solo stops (34), and has two interceptions this year (both in the Toledo game); both Grant and Hallock have 1.5 TFL each. Jordan Riley, a Third Team All-MAC selection last year, is tied with Kent State’s Bryce Sheppard for 6 PBU this season (leads MAC safeties) and has 3 TFL (2nd) with 29 solo stops (tie-5th).
Nate Bauer (Toledo)
Bryce Sheppert (Kent State)
Jacquez Warren (Miami)
Cornerbacks: Davon Ferguson (Bowling Green), Jalen Huskey (Bowling Green)
Davon Ferguson is one of two MAC corners with at least 20 solo tackles (24) and multiple interceptions on the year (2). Both of Ferguson’s interceptions this season came in the Buffalo road trip, which finished with a 24-14 win. He’s also one of two corners with 4 tackles for loss, and a sack.
Jalen Huskey leads all MAC defensive backs with four interceptions, including one in each of his team’s wins over Buffalo and Akron, and only three corners have more total tackles than he (37).
Donte Kent (CMU)
Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo)
Raion Strader (Miami)