Weeknight MACtion provides us the opportunity to space out our excitement, slashing the amount of time our collective heart rates spend at levels consistent with a serious cardiac event. But 2015's first edition of this staple of American life left us with much to talk about and plenty of helmet stickers to give away despite having just eight teams in action for week nine; or nine and a half. I'm not sure what to call it.
KICKERS ARE PEOPLE TOO
Andrew Haldeman - kicker, person, Western Michigan Bronco
Awarding a helmet sticker to a kicker in a game decided by 30 points seems wrong. Even if Haldeman missed every kick on Saturday, the Broncos still win by two scores. But with Haldeman everything is different. For this kicker, on this team, a 3/3 on Field goals and 7/7 on extra points feels about as likely as a "kick six." Take it from whoever ran the Twitter account Thursday night (I promise it wasn't me this time), Haldeman's otherwise pedestrian performance was actually notable:
HALFTIME: Broncos lead Eagles 23-14, Haldeman has three field goals.— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) October 30, 2015
Kickers are often forgotten, and if you're remembered it's usually for being really good, or painfully bad. I'd argue no player on the field at any time carries the weight of an entire fan base's psyche like the kicker, and unfortunately Andrew has come out on the wrong end of things. Thursday was huge for Haldeman, and damn it, I'm just flat out happy for him.
So while I'm still being a homer...
Jamauri Bogan - Western Michigan
Bogan spent so much time in the Eastern Michigan end zone on Thursday that I think they're starting to forward his mail there. He crossed the goal line largely untouched on four separate occasions, giving him seven trips to the end zone on the season. Bogan isn't exactly built like a goal line back at 5-7 174 pounds, so you'd think he must have just ran all over the Eagles. Wrong. Red zone time was Bogan time, and he only needed eight carries to do all of this damage, meaning Bogan was a touchdown scoring coin flip on Thursday. Bogan now leads the Broncos in rushing touchdowns on the season - not bad considering he scored his first one just three weeks ago. In that span, he has scored touchdowns on 19.4% of his overall carries. Really makes you wonder how many other backs Mike Hart is hiding on that roster.
Darius Jackson and Shaq Vann - Eastern Michigan
Albeit in a 30 point loss, I have to give some love to my second favorite member of Directional Michigan University. I mean, they did trail by just nine at half time. Part of the reason they trailed by such a slim margin by Eagle standards at the break is the 204 rushing yards in the first half. That is not a typo. No, really, Eastern Michigan had 204 yards rushing and it wasn't against its own defense. Now, they only managed 22 yards in the second half, but I think its okay to give out a shared sticker to the EMU stable of running backs. To their credit, Jackson and Vann looked amazing against the WMU defense early on, and they did finish with 174 yards between them. Lord knows how ugly this might have gotten had these two not shown up with their A game, even if just for two quarters.
Ron Willoughby - Buffalo
Jamauri Bogan's performance was pretty damn special, what with scoring a touchdown on 50% of his carries, but what do you get when you score on 100% of your touches? I don't know, I guess you just get a helmet sticker, but nevertheless, Ron Willoughby had a "quiet" day hauling in just two catches, but both for touchdowns. The second score was what you'd expect, a red zone score from nine yards out, but the first was a 78 yard toss from Joe Licata that ended with WIlloughby stading alone in the Miami end zone.
Brison Burris - Miami
PICK SIX ALERT. Aside from kick/punt returns for touchdowns, the pick six is the most exciting play in football. Those tuned in for Miami vs Buffalo on Thursday night were treated to such a play as Brison Burris snagged a Joe Licata pass that didn't find Ron WIlloughby for a touchdown and ran it back 76 yards for a touchdown of his own. This gave the RedHawks their only lead of the game at 7-3, and was a much needed score from the defense to support an offense that, quite frankly, isn't getting it done these days. The RedHawks came up short once again, however, and really could have used another score from Burris.
KeVonn Mabon - Ball State
Roger Lewis isn't the only receiver in this league capable of putting up big yards. KeVonn Mabon can torch defenses as well, especially a defense like UMass. Mabon took advantage of the Minutemen secondary to the tune of six catches for 150 yards, overshadowing (at least for a day) his always sensational teammate Jordan Williams, who's been on this list a time or two. Mabon is going to get another shot to duplicate this performance next week against a WMU secondary that lives to leave players wide open downfield. Riley Neal will have to hide his excitement watching film this week.
Anthony Rice - Central Michigan
Jesse Kroll is usually the one doing the work on the other end of Cooper Rush's passes for the Chippewas, but on this day it was Anthony Rice, hauling in nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. If you haven't heard of Rice until this moment, it's probably because he's been relatively quiet this season, catching five or more passes only twice before Saturday's win at Akron. Rice's production helped the Chippewas overcome an always stingy Zips defense.
Thanks for joining us this week, and make sure to stop by next Sunday as we have MAC games pretty much every day of the week, including three teams we were missing this weekend, Bowling Green, Toledo and Northern Illinois. Weeknight MACtion is upon us, and it feels so right.