Friday, September 2, 2011

WIAC Football 2011 Preview

WIAC Preview:

2010 Standings:

1.  UW-Whitewater  15-0 overall, 7-0 WIAC
 2.  UW-Stevens Point 7-3, 5-2
3.  UW-Stout 6-4, 4-3
4.  UW-Oshkosh 4-6, 3-4
5.  UW-Platteville 5-5, 3-4
6.  UW-La Crosse 3-7, 3-4
7.  UW-Eau Claire 4-6, 2-5
8.  UW-River Falls 1-9, 1-6

2011 Schedule

Games to Watch

Week 1: UWL @ UWW (nc)
It’s a non-conference match-up between these teams and the first game for Coach D at
La Crosse.  It is always good to see a game between the two most storied teams in the conference.

Week 2: UWEC @ St. John’s
UWEC knocked off the Johnnies in surprising fashion last year at home and now will have to head up to Collegeville, MN to face a St. John’s unit that certainly has revenge on its mind.  Not only that but the Johnnies have some of the most passionate fans around and a hard to pronounce but still pretty cool tailgate party.

Week 3: Wheaton (IL) @ UWP
If Platteville wants to come out of non-conference with a winning record they will probably have to beat Wheaton to do it.

Week 4: UWL @ UWP
It is the only conference game on the slate for the week and whoever wins gets to be on top of the conference for a week.

Week 5: UWEC @ UWST
An early rivalry game between 2 schools that are about a 30 minute drive apart.

Week 6: UWST @ UWSP
This game will basically be for 2nd place in the conference and give the winner a chance to make the playoffs.

Week 7: UWST @ UWW
If Stout wins the week prior they’ll carry momentum and their stout defense (see what I did there) into Perkins Stadium with a chance to knockoff the Warhawks.

Week 9: UWP @ UWRF
Despite the struggles that River Falls has had of late it has been a while since UWP was able to beat the Falcons at Ramer field. They’ll need to get a W there this season in order to stay afloat.

Week 10: UWSP @ UWW
If Point wins their week 6 match-up against Stout they will have a chance to repeat what they did in 2008, beat Whitewater at Perkins Stadium en route to a conference title.

Week 11: UWO @ UWSP
A late season rivalry game that Oshkosh will have to win in order to start to make the jump from pretender to contender.

Week 12: UWEC @ UWRF
This week matches up all the teams that play their phony-baloney non-conference games against each other.  River Falls gave former coach John O’Grady a win in their final game against Eau Claire last season for their only win of the year.  UWEC will surely be sure not to have a letdown this season.

2011 Outlook:

I’ll go through each team in order of how I think they’ll finish and give best case scenario, worst case scenario and predicted conference record.  They will also be grouped with teams in similar circumstances.

Group 1: UW Whitewater (a class unto themselves)

Best Case Scenario: 7-0, 7th consecutive WIAC title and a 3-peat for the national title
Worst Case Scenario: 6-1, lose to Point or Stout; lose in title game to Mt. Union
Prediction: See Best Case Scenario

Group 2: UW Stevens Point &UW Stout (contenders with strong defense and questions on offense)

UW Stevens Point
Best Case Scenario: 7-0, Conference champs and make a run in the playoffs
Worst Case Scenario: 4-3, Losses to Stout, UWW and a lower team make 2011 a disappointment
Prediction: 6-1 with their only loss being to UWW, slight edge over Stout because they're at home

UW Stout
Best Case Scenario: See Point
Worst Case Scenario: 4-3, Losses to Point, UWW and a lower team make 2011 a disappointment
Prediction: 5-2 with losses @ UWW and Point

Group 3: UW Platteville, UW Oshkosh & UW Eau Claire (middling teams looking to break through)

UW Oshkosh
Best Case Scenario: 6-1, break through beating everyone but the Warhawks
Worst Case Scenario: 2-5, fall back with loses against any team as good as or better than them
Prediction: 3-4, wins over UWRF, UWP and UWL

UW Platteville
Best Case Scenario: 5-2, get a win at Point in nonconference but lose to the Pointers at home
Worst Case Scenario: 2-5, inexplicably lose at UWRF
Prediction: 3-4, wins over UWRF, UWEC and UWL

UW Eau Claire
Best Case Scenario: 4-3, only unable to get past the top teams in the conference
Worst Case Scenario: 1-6, Unable to control time of possession take several tough losses
Prediction: 3-4 wins over UWRF, UWO and UWL

Group 4: UW La Crosse and UW River Falls (Once proud programs that have fallen on hard times)

UW La Crosse
Best Case Scenario: 4-3, Coach D works some magic and gets the Eagles up with the big boys
Worst Case Scenario: 0-7, lack of continuity leads to disaster
Prediction:  1-6, this program is too proud to go 0-7 they beat UWRF

UW River Falls
Best Case Scenario: 3-4, Coach Walker uses the ground game to get his team some wins
Worst Case Scenario: 0-7, No late season magic this time for the Falcons, they are overmatched
Prediction: See Worst Case Scenario

Big Question:

Can anyone beat Whitewater?

Probably not but if someone can my money is on Stout.  They have a very good defense and have the more proven QB between them and fellow contender Stevens Point. (I still like Point head to head against Stout but only because of home field advantage).  If you’re going to beat UWW it will have to be through the air and if there is a team that can do that and slow down Levell Coppage, Stout is that team.

Player to Watch:

Levell Coppage

Coppage is a sick talent.  He has rushed for over 2,100 yards the past 2 years and that was with Antwan Anderson with him in the backfield.  Coppage is good enough to make up for UWW’s losses on the O-line and has a legit shot to earn the 2,400 yards he needs to become the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher regardless of division.  That means Coppage can end up with more rushing yards than this man.  If you only watch one player this year watch Coppage.

Bottom Line:

This is Whitewater’s title to lose.  The conference is stronger this year than last year so games against the Warhawks will be closer but likely not close enough.  Stout and Point should battle for the 2 spot while UWO, UWP and UWEC will fail to break through losing to the top teams and playing a proverbial game of rock, paper, scissors against each other due to match-ups.  While there is some optimism at UWL I just don’t see a team with that few starters coming back off an already bad team and it will take more than 1 season for Matt Walker to get River Falls off the deck.

Extra Point:

Thank you so much for reading and for more information on the WIAC Football scene including my interview with Doug Wagen, voice of the UW-Platteville Pioneers, you can listen to the WRST WIAC preview show at 12pm on Saturday September 3rd at  Just click on the listen now button.  That show will be followed by the broadcast of the UW-Oshkosh v. Central College game, yours truly will be on the broadcast and it should be a good one.  Thanks again for reading.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

WIAC preview two-a-days Part 8: UW-Platteville


Fast Facts:

Head Coach: Mike Emendorfer; 13th season at UWP; 42-77
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 9/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Zak Brinkman (Sr., Punter, 2010-Second); Corey Marks (Jr., DL, 2010-First); Nick Snyder (Jr., LB, 2010-Honorable); Lee Vlasak (Jr., All-Purpose, 2010-Second)

2010 Recap:

Platteville was a young team in 2010 and their youth showed in the outcomes of their games. After opening with wins over Buena Vista and rival Dubuque the Pioneers dropped a 51-20 decision.  They then lost to UWW before rattling of wins against Eau Claire and La Crosse but then laid an egg in Oshkosh losing 14-41.  UWP bounced back with a win against River Falls but finished the season with back to back losses to Stout and Stevens Point.  Lee Vlasak emerged as a real threat as he had over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the Pioneers. At quarterback Nick Anderson had a pretty good year but went through some growing pains throwing for over 2,000 yards and 11 TDs but also threw 9 picks.  The defense was pretty good against the run allowing just over 150 yards per game but the pass defense was last in the WIAC in pass defense allowing over 230 yards per game.  The Pioneer rush offense also ranked last in the league.

2011 Schedule

2011 Outlook:

The Pioneers will probably be a better team in 2011 but will it make any difference in their final record/conference standings.  I don’t think it will.  The problem for the pioneers is that everyone should be as good as or better than they were last year with the possible exception of La Crosse.  Platteville does get both teams that are at a similar level as them, Oshkosh and Eau Claire, at home and get Stevens Point at home in the last week of the season as well.  The schedule couldn’t get much better for UWP and they might just have a breakthrough season, unfortunately I’ve said that about 3 other teams so far as well.

Big Question:

Can Platteville win at River Falls and beat Point in one of their two games against the Pointers?

In the words of Doug Wagen, voice of the Pioneers, it has been a long time since either of those things has happened.  If the Pioneers manage to knock off the Pointers and take care of business against Falls then they should achieve their goal of a winning record in conference.  If not, the pioneers can expect another mediocre record.

Player to Watch:

Lee Vlasak

While Coach Emendorfer’s philosophy regarding the run game has always been “we’ll run it after we catch it” when your best player is a running back you should probably adjust your game plan a little bit.  That being said I think Coach E will always be more concerned with Vlasak’s all-purpose yardage more than just straight rushing yardage.  Vlasak scored 13 touchdowns last year, including 5 in one game, and will look to reach pay dirt even more often this season.

Bottom Line:

Platteville will probably end up near the middle of the pack this year.  While they look to be improved there is very little room for upward movement in the WIAC this season.  The Pioneers are looking really good for the 2012 season with the number of juniors on this roster but for 2011 I expect more of the same from Mike Emendorfer’s team

Extra Point:

If you want to hear my interview with Doug Wagen, voice of the Pioneers, you can listen to the WRST WIAC preview show at 12pm on Saturday September 3rd at  That show will be followed by the broadcast of the UW-Oshkosh v. Central College game.

Tomorrow I’ll give some quick hits on each team (in case you missed any of the 2-a-days), give you key games to watch this season and make my full conference predictions in my 2011 WIAC preview.


WIAC Preview two-a-days Part 7: UW-La Crosse

UW-La Crosse

Fast Facts:

Head Coach: Joel Detwiler; 1st season at UWL
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 4/7
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Derek Dreher (Sr., DB, 2008-Second, 2009-Honorable); Lee Lauters (Sr., RB, 2010-Second); Donovan Winter (Sr., DB, 2010-Second)

2010 Recap:

Larry Terry’s final year was not a happy one.  After several successful seasons, particularly with 3 conference titles from 2002-2004, the Eagles have fallen on hard times.  The Eagles finished 5-5 in 2009 and 2-5 in conference play and then finished 2010 with a 3-7 record overall with a 3-4 record in the WIAC.  UWL did get close to knocking off Mary-Hardin-Baylor, a perennial power in the SAC but lost their first 4 games of the season including their first loss to UW-Oshkosh in almost 40 years.  UWL did scrap together home wins against River Falls and Eau Claire and in their biggest win of the season beat Stout on the road on a last minute drive 29-28 on October 30th.  UWL was lead in rushing by Lee Lauters who rushed for 746 yards and 6 TDs.  Nick Anker had a shaky season at quarterback throwing for over 2,000 yards and 14 scores but also threw an alarming 12 interceptions.  It was a mixed bag at wide out as Travis Bordeau caught 65 balls for 650 yards and one score while Kyle Steffen led the team in TD catches with 5.  The defense did pretty well against the pass but struggled in the running game allowing 188 yards per game on the ground.  But it wasn’t the defense that lost this team games in 2010, it was the offense that only scored 21 points 4 times and went 3-1 in those contests.

2011 Outlook:

Coach Terry is out and Joel Detwiler is in for UWL.  Detwiler is from Oregon Wisconsin and played 4 years at UW-Platteville as a defensive, so he knows the conference well.  He worked as an assistant at UWP from 2000-2004 until he took a position at Wartburg College in Iowa.  From 2004-2008 he was the linebackers and strength coach for the nights before taking over as defensive coordinator in 2008.  The Knights won 2 IIAC titles with Detwiler heading up the defense.  Detwiler will be calling the plays on defense and work closely with the DBs this season.  Detwiler also brought in Reed Hoskins who was on the offensive side of the ball at Wartburg while Detwiler was running the defense.  In his time at Wartburg Hoskins’ offense ranked second in the IIAC in total offense and 3rd in total scoring.  It will be an uphill battle for both Detwiler and Hoskins this season.  Detwiler will have to shore up a defense that struggled against the run last year and Hoskins will have to deal with at least 7 new starters on an offense that struggled to score last year.  UWL will come out in a pro-set on offense and a 4-3 defense this season.  Offensive line will be a problem this year for UWL.  They only return 1 starter on that line and he only started the final 5 games of last year in Sophomore Andrew Hermann.  UWL’s number 2 receiver a year ago, Alex Maxinoski, is back as is Tight End Ross Slovensky.  Luckily for the Eagles Lee Lauters also is back for his senior season.  The defensive backfield should be well off with Derek Dreher and Jake Meckstroth back.  On the defensive line Nicholas Matthews and Donovan Winter could have break out years but the linebacker position is pretty thin.

Big Question:

Who is going to start at quarterback?

With Nick Anker gone word on the west coast is that a quarterback battle brewing in La Crosse,  between Mike Butterfield and Andy Sires.  Now I’m not at practice everyday but to me this seems pretty simple that Butterfield should get the job.  He was 6 for 7 passing last season for 86 yards and a score.  He also ran for 171 yards and a score. But the coaches like Sires' arm.  At least early I'll take the guy with game experience thus I think Butterfield is the logical choice.

Player to Watch:

Lee Lauters

Lauters might want to get Taylor Edwards’ phone number, or friend him on facebook or follow him on twitter or whatever people are doing these days because those two are going to be in very similar situations, good running backs on bad teams.  Lauters is more talented than what his rushing total shows.  Lauters averaged 5 yards per carry in 2010 and averaged 93.2 yards per game, not bad.  The problem for Lauters this year is that his O-line will be the most inexperienced in the conference.  The passing game might also take a hit with Anker gone as well.  What might help him, or could hurt him, is the pro style offense. Lacrosse ran a zone-read shotgun look under Larry Terry, which fit Lauters’ style but kept his number of carries low.  If Lauters can adapt to this new system (we’ll see Saturday how different it really is) and get a higher number of carries he will solidify himself as one of the conference’s top backs.

Bottom Line:

This shapes up to be a rough year for the Eagles.  The return the fewest starters by far of any WIAC team not named UW-Whitewater and they still have 2 fewer returning starters than the Warhawks.  Add in a tougher schedule, playing at Mary-Hardin-Baylor who is ranked 6th to start the season and playing UWW twice, loss of not just quantity of players but also quality at key positions and a new coach and new system.  I personally don’t see La Crosse having that much success this year, despite what this video says.

The Platteville Preview will be out later this afternoon with the WIAC overview coming out Friday.