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 wrst.org.  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.


TTFN

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