***** NCAA Football Preview - Central Michigan Chippewas *****
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2011 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Chippewas used 2011 as a rebuilding year as 17
first-time starters gained valuable experience while the team finished 3-9.
Central Michigan lost its last three games and six of its last seven to close
out last season.
Dan Enos began his second season as CMU's head coach with a victory over
Southeast Missouri State (21-6), but the team then suffered three lopsided
defeats courtesy of Kentucky (27-13), Western Michigan (44-14), and Michigan
State (45-7). The Chippewas managed to outlast Northern Illinois (48-41) next
time out in a high-scoring affair to win their first conference game of the
season. CMU was then handed three losses in a row by NC State (38-24), Eastern
Michigan (35-28), and Ball State (31-27). The Chippewas briefly stopped the
bleeding and snapped the losing streak with a triumph over Akron (23-22) on the
road. Kent State (24-21), Ohio University (43-28), and Toledo (44-17) all got
the better of CMU in the Chippewas' final three games.
With just two wins against FBS competition, CMU was ineligible for its first
bowl appearance since the 2009 GMAC Bowl. The Chippewas finished at the bottom
of the MAC's West Division with a 2-6 mark. CMU's record versus conference
opposition was tied for the second worst in the league with Buffalo.
OFFENSE: Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff will have the keys to the offense
once again. Radcliff led the MAC with 2,491 passing yards in league games last
season. He threw 25 touchdown passes, however he was picked off by defenders 16
times as well. Enos has another option at quarterback this season as transfer
Cody Kater will provide insurance and compete for snaps with Radcliff.
Radcliff has his top two targets from last season back again. Titus Davis was
10th in the MAC in 2011 with 751 receiving yards on 40 receptions, while Cody
Wilson grabbed a team-high 48 passes for 526 yards.
Sophomore Anthony Garland rushed for 378 yards during in his rookie campaign.
Garland and junior tailback Zurlon Tipton are going to be asked to provide
playmaking ability on the ground, although neither has experience as a feature
back. The rushing attack generated much less success than the passing game for
CMU last season. Garland and/or Tipton could change the forecast of the entire
season if they can take some pressure off Radcliff.
DEFENSE: Defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin is clearly going to have to make
adjustments after his unit allowed 428.8 yards and 33.3 points per game in
2011. Jahleel Addae was a bright spot as he led the team with 107 tackles and
the MAC with four interceptions. Free safety Avery Cunningham and cornerback
Lorenzo White also return to CMU's secondary. The Chippewas' starting safety
hinted at the changing culture and attitude in the locker room.
"I'm confident. That's one of the big things we have been harping on all summer
as a team," said Addae. "Play with confidence, practice with confidence, and
that will carry us a long way."
The Chippewas were lacking a defensive playmaker in the middle of the field
last season. Sophomore Cody Lopez and junior Shamari Benton are starting at
linebacker this season after finishing with 58 total tackles each in 2011. The
tandem provides a much needed veteran presence.
CMU's pass rush struggled big time last season. The Chippewas registered just
13 sacks as a team and defensive tackle Matt Losiniecki led the team with just
two. The starting defensive ends, Joe Kinville and Caesar Rodriguez, will need
to pressure opposing quarterbacks at a much higher rate to help the Chippewas
turn it around.
SPECIAL TEAMS: David Harman returns for his senior season after a consistent
junior campaign. The Chippewas' placekicker was 13-of-16 on field goal tries
and 32-of-32 on extra point tries in 2011. CMU also returns its efficient
punter Richie Hogan.
OUTLOOK: Enos believes his team will be able to turn it around this season. The
Chippewas' coach who is 6-18 overall in two seasons with the school, might be
on the hot seat if he cannot guide CMU back to the postseason.
"Our roster is the most complete it has been since I've been here," Enos said.
"We have great depth at every position and we're excited to get this season
CMU starts out with Southeast Missouri State again before battling Michigan
State and Iowa of the Big Ten. The Chippewas begin their MAC schedule on
September 29 when they travel to the Land of Lincoln to take on Northern
Illinois. CMU will conclude its non-conference slate versus the rush happy Navy
Midshipmen on October 20.
The team will be at home seven times total and in five of its last seven games.
CMU closes its regular season out in Gillette Stadium versus the newest member
of the MAC, Massachusetts.
The Chippewas developed a handful of young players on both sides of the ball
during 2011's disappointing season. The offense should be able to score points
with regularity in 2012, but the defensive unit is still a big question mark.
CMU will improve its record, but it does not have enough to contend for the
08/20 10:44:25 ET