CFN Take: Central Michigan Fights In Loss

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 27, 2014


Central Michigan Chippewas 2014 ... Head Coach: Dan Enos


2014 Central Michigan Chippewas 

2014 Schedule
Record: 2-3

Aug. 28 Chattanooga W 20-16
Sep. 6 at Purdue W 38-17
Sep. 13 Syracuse L 40-3
Sep. 20 at Kansas L 24-10
Sep. 27 at Toledo L 42-28
Oct. 4 Ohio
Oct. 11 at Nothern Illinois
Oct. 18 Ball State
Oct. 25 at Buffalo
Nov. 1 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 15 Miami Univ.
Nov. 22 Western Michigan
Sept. 27 at Toledo 42, Central Michigan 28
And You Care Because … The Rockets took control in the first half helped by a six-yard Alonzo Russell touchdown catch with 27 seconds to play for a 20-7 lead, but Central Michigan stayed alive with a four-yard Jesse Kroll touchdown catch to open up the second half. Toledo took the game back with Russell making a 12-yard scoring grab and Damion Jones-Moore running for a three-yard score. CMU wouldn’t go away with Thomas Rawls running for two short scores to pull within six, but Toledo once again had an answer with an 80-yard drive finishing with a 12-yard Logan Woodside run.
What Else? Toledo QB Logan Woodside completed 23-of-34 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran six times for 20 yards and a score
- Central Michigan RB Thomas Rawls ran 17 times for 65 yards and two touchdowns, and Titus Davis caught six passes for 128 yards
- Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush completed 24-of-31 passes for 291 yards and two score with an interception.
- Toledo WR Alonzo Russell caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: B+

Sept. 20 Kansas 24, Central Michigan 10
And You Care Because … Kansas woke up just in time to get past Central Michigan for its second win of the season. The game was tied at 10 entering the final quarter, but Jayhawk QB Montell Cozart sealed the victory on a pair of touchdown passes. The Chippewas’ attempts to mount a comeback were stifled by their own ineffectiveness and the play of the Kansas D.
What Else? For Cozart, it was a career-best day in Lawrence, highlighted by 226 yards passing and those critical fourth-quarter scoring strikes.
- Central Michigan’s offensive struggles continued in Week 4. Against an average defense, QB Cooper Rush couldn’t stretch the defense, and the runners averaged less than three yards per carry.
- Kansas LB Jake Love lived in the Central Michigan backfield on Saturday. He only had five tackles, but four of them were for minus yards.
- As is often the case lately, LB Justin Cherocci was the best Chippewa on the field. He had a game-high 18 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, helping keep the Kansas backs under wraps.
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 13 Syracuse 40, at Central Michigan 3
And You Care Because … It was a very impressive win for the Orange, which came out of its bye week refreshed and sharp. Syracuse thoroughly dominated a Central Michigan team that beat Purdue—in West Lafayette—just a week earlier. The Orange and coach Scott Shafer corrected the problems it had with Villanova in the opener, and now looks like a team that can nab one of the ACC’s automatic bowl berths in December.
What Else? The Orange controlled the line of scrimmage throughout, outgaining the Chippewas on the ground, 289-34. Adonis Ameen-Moore rushed for 106 yards, and QB Terrel Hunt scored three times on the ground.
- While it probably wouldn’t have impacted the outcome, Central Michigan was without two of its best weapons, RB Thomas Rawls and WR Titus Davis. Davis is injured, while Rawls was mysteriously scratched on Friday.
- Hunt didn’t stretch the Central Michigan defense in this one, but he didn’t have to either. He went 20-of-30 for 175 yards, a touchdown to Brisly Estime and no interceptions.
- While the loss doesn’t rest on the shoulders of Cooper Rush, it’s clear the young quarterback can lead the offense without the help of Rawls. Rush had just one completion beyond 20 yards, and the Chips were 1-of-10 on third downs.
Game Rating: D-

Sept. 6 Central Michigan 38, Purdue 17
And You Care Because … Central Michigan got out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and was up 21-7 at halftime, and was never truly threatened the rest of the way. Brandon Greer returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown, and Anthony Rice caught a 65-yard touchdown pass to get things started for CMU, and Thomas Rawls put it away with his second touchdown run of the game, scoring from 16 yard out. Purdue tried to rally with Austin Appleby hitting Danny Anthrop for a 23-yard score, but 31-17 was as close as it got late.
What Else? Thomas Rawls was brilliant, running 31 times for 155 yards and two scores and catching three passes for 50 yards for CMU.
- Purdue has a quarterback issue now. Danny Etling completed 17-of-32 passes for 126 yards and two scores including the pick six, but he tied for the team lead with 53 rushing yards and a score on ten carries.
- The CMU defensive front did a nice job of controlling the Purdue backs. Joe Ostman made two sacks, but the linebackers got the job done to keep the big plays to a minimum.
- Purdue didn’t abandon the running game, but it didn’t work. Raheem Mostert ran for 53 yards, but couldn’t get free averaging 2.8 yards per carry, and Akeem Hunt ran just three times for nine yards.
Game Rating: C+

Aug. 28 at Central Michigan 20, Chattanooga 16
And You Care Because … Down 16-0 after the second of two Tommy Hudson first half touchdown catches, Central Michigan took over scoring 20 unanswered points with Cooper Rush connecting on touchdown passes to Jesse Kroll from 18 yards out and Courtney Williams from 26 yards away, and Thomas Rawls running for a score from six yards away.
What Else? Don’t just assume this was an ugly win over an FCS team – it was – but Chattanooga is good enough to have pulled this off. CMU could’ve and should’ve lost, but the secondary tightened up in a huge way after the first half finishing with four picks, and the offense didn’t screw up when it had to keep thing moving.
- Thomas Rawls carried the Chippewas with 123 yards and a score on 25 carries. CMU only averaged 3.3 yards per carry, but held on to the ball for 36:53
- LB Justin Cherocci picked up where he left off last year with a team-leading 11 tackles, but it was Tony Annese who came up with the big performance picking off two passes.
Game Rating: C

2014 Central Michigan Preview  

This is it. This is the year. This is the time when the Dan Enos era is supposed to truly kick in and the Chippewas are supposed to be back to being a MAC powerhouse.

It took more of an overhaul and a rebuilding job than it originally seemed when the transition to the post-Dan LeFevour era started, but Enos has had a full recruiting cycle and has had a chance to set the foundation to do what he wants. Now he has the experience and the momentum to challenge for the MAC title.

Yes, Central Michigan took advantage of the lighter portions of the last two schedules to avoid disaster, starting out 2012 2-5 before winning five of the last six games including the Little Caesars Bowl. Last year, the Chippewas were 3-6 before beating up Western Michigan, UMass and Eastern Michigan teams that combined to go 4-32 to finish 6-6.

With a team loaded with veterans, it has to start beating the good teams, too.

There have been a few big wins here and there under Enos, shocking Northern Illinois in 2011, beating WKU in the bowl game in 2012, and beating Ohio last year, but there haven’t been enough of them. The 12-2 2009 season might seem like it was eons ago, but the program knows success and it has always done a great job of whacking the true losers in the MAC. If there aren’t any big mistakes, and if there could be a few key victories, all of a sudden, CMU is a player.

The offense hasn’t rocked anyone’s world lately, but just about everyone is back including pass-catching terror Titus Davis and returning star RB Saylor Lavallii back ofter a terrific year. The defense that was so soft against the run is loaded with veterans and has bulk and depth up front.

So now it’s time. It’s not going to be easy with Ball State, Northern Illinois and Toledo in the West to deal with, but now, those teams will have to deal with Central Michigan.


What to watch for on offense: There isn’t any excuse for the offense to not blow up big. It might not be the 2007 attack that ripped up the world for close to 6,300 yards, but the 4,093-yard campaign of last season was all about rebuilding after losing top running back Zurlon Tipton to injury and trying to get then-freshman Cooper Rush to figure out what he was doing. Not having Eric Fisher around anymore didn’t help, either. This season, though, it’s not crazy to ask for 1,500 more yards of offense with all five starters back up front, explosive ability at receiver and a veteran backfield that should be steadier. Transition time over.

What to watch for on defense: The defense has to utilize its excellent hitting ability and experience in the 4-2-5 to start doing more to come up with stops. With veteran defensive backs who all know what they’re doing, and five returning starters in the defensive backfield, it’s time to figure out how to get off the field. On the year, CMU allowed teams to convert 45% of their third down chances, and while the blowout loss to Ball State was an aberration – the Cardinals converted just 1-of-10 tries – for the most part, life was better when they were making big plays getting killed by Northern Illinois and Toledo, who combined to convert 18-of-27 attempts. Part of the problem? No pass rush. The Chippewas failed to generate a sack in two games last season – NIU and Toledo – and wasn’t nearly consistent enough generating 21 on the season.

The team will be far better if … the offense comes away with scores when it gets the puck around the net. There were only three games last year decided by less than a touchdown, but for the offense to go from good to great, there can’t be any empty trips. The Chippewas were in the red zone ten times and didn’t score, partly because of five missed field goals, and partly because of big mistakes. This didn’t end up proving to be costly last season, but failed opportunities will come back to bite them this year.

The schedule: It’s going to be interesting to see if the veteran Chippewas can handle themselves against the mediocre big names on the non-conference schedule. After the scrimmage against Chattanooga to kick things off, they have to go on the road to deal with Purdue and Kansas and host Syracuse – if they can win one of those three, there will be a buzz. However, it could be kill or be killed in the early part of the MAC schedule having to go to Toledo and Northern Illinois wrapped around a home date with Ohio. If that wasn’t bad enough, they have to deal with Ball State before going on the road to face Buffalo from the East. That means CMU has a run of six road games in nine dates before closing out with Miami University and Western Michigan.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Titus Davis. While he would’ve been a late round pick at best, he had an honest shot to take off early for the next level after ripping apart the MAC as the saving grace for the CMU passing game. He helped make Cooper Rush’s life easier with big play after big play, even with defenses were keyed on stopping him. There are other good veteran receivers in the mix with five of the top six pass catchers returning, and with Andrew Flory and Courtney Williams able to make plays on their own, but it’s Davis at the inside Z position who’ll be the go-to guy for the attack.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Justin Cherocci. It’s been Shamari Benton’s linebacking corps over the last few years in terms of being an all-around playmaker, but it’s Cerocci who’s been making all the tackles. Benton is gone, and now Cherocci and his 253 tackles over the last two seasons gets to be the true star of the show. He’s the big, tough run stopper in the 4-2-5 alignment, and while he’s not going to get into the backfield on a regular basis, he’ll clean up everything the leaky line doesn’t get to.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Cooper Rush. The quarterback situation was a key question mark last year, and Rush showed the promise and potential to be the main man for the next few years. There were too many interceptions and massive inconsistencies, but when he’s on, he can be deadly and a true difference-maker. Despite his name, he’s not a runner, but he’s a poised passer who should spread the ball around well with more time to work. The O line will give him a chance, and he needs to come through and crank up the offensive numbers.

The season will be a success if … the Chippewas get off to a hot start. With so much experience and potential, this should be a bowl team, but it’s going to take some work. It’s been the same stuff over the last few years – lose early, beat the bad teams late, and come up with a decent final record. It should be the same late with Eastern Michigan, Miami University and Western Michigan to close out, and having Chattanooga early helps, but there aren’t any true layups from in September and October.

Key game: Sept. 27 at Toledo. Of course, to have any shot at winning the West, the Northern Illinois game will be important, and dealing with Ball State is big, but the Chippewas have to show that this team is different and this season is different by coming up with a massive win in the MAC opener. The Rockets have won four straight in the series putting up massive numbers, and even before that the games were massive shootouts. Beat Toledo, be a player in the West race.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Red Zone Scores: Opponents 43-of-50 (84%) – Central Michigan 33-of-43 (77%)
- Second Quarter Scoring: Opponents 110 – Central Michigan 64
- Rushing Yards Per Game: Opponents 201.2 – Central Michigan 132.8

- 2014 Central Michigan Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players 


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