Thursday, July 6, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Central Michigan Chippewas
Central Michigan Chippewas
Jim Bonamego pushed the Chippewas once again in 2016, and the team surprised a few people along the way. This may very well be the most talented team that he has had thus far, however, and some people see CMU pushing past Western Michigan in the MAC West this season. With expectations on the rise, will the Chippewas live up to the promise and hype, or will they collapse under the pressure?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Expect Devon Spalding to get more work in the spread attack as the run game will have to counter for a new QB. Spalding has big play potential, and rushed for 758 yards and six scores last season, and averaged 5.49 yards per carry. Sophomore Jonathon Ward will step up to the number two back position, and averaged 5.56 yards per carry last fall.
Corey Willis will be back as the primary target in the passing game after catching 71 passes for 1087 yards and nine scores, while averaging over 15 yards per catch last season. Mark Chapman also returns after catching 44 passes last season. TE Tyler Conklin is also a big time target who caught 42 passes for 560 yards and six scores last fall. Brandon Childress, a sophomore, is likely to break into the starting lineup as the third receiver.
The entire line is back in order this season. LT Jon Austin, LG Shakir Carr, C Austin Doan, RG JP Quinn, and RT Derek Edwards all return.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Cooper Rush has moved on, and that is bad news for the Chippewas. Tony Pujian, a RS freshman who is as big as a mountain (6-7) is the current leader for the job, and was a recruit at some Big Ten schools as a TE. He could be pushed by Michigan transfer Shane Morris, who never really lived up to his potential with the Wolverines.
The PK job is open as well, but that could be a good thing. Brian Eavey only hit 8/17 FG attempts last fall, and has moved on. Kaden Keon is in the lead as we head into fall camp.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Chippewas are all set at DE, as Chris Kantzavalos and Jon Ostman both return. Ostman led the team last fall with 13.5 TFLs and nine sacks. Kantzavalos finished with 22 tackles.
Both CBs also return with Amari Coleman and Josh Cox coming back. Coleman was one of the best CBs in the nation with 15 PBUs last season. Cox added five PBUs, and the two combined for seven INTs last fall.
Jack Sheldon is the returning starting Punter, and averaged 40.21 yards per punt last fall, but Cooper Mojssiejenko is also back if they need him after he averaged 40.95 yards per punt.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The Chippewas are looking to rebuild at DT after allowing 169 yards rushing per game last fall. D'Andre Dill and Nate Brisson-Fast are the leading candidates.
Malik Fountain is the lone returning starting LB from last season, but he did lead the team in tackles with 92. He will be flanked by new starters in Trevor Apsey and Carlos Clark.
The Chippewas also need two new starters at Safety. Otis Kearney and Tyjuan Swaith have the edge there as we head to fall camp.
2017 Schedule: 8/31 Rhode Island, 9/9 at Kansas, 9/16 at Syracuse, 9/23 Miami (Ohio), 9/30 at Boston College, 10/7 at Ohio, 10/14 Toledo, 10/21 at Ball State, 11/1 at Western Michigan, 11/8 Eastern Michigan, 11/14 at Kent State, 11/24 Northern Illinois
The Chippewas have been stuck in the middle for a couple of years now. It's now a time when the window is opening to move forward, but the real question is can the current staff move them around the corner? Can this team get to the next level in the MAC West? With a new QB coming in, that s a tough question to answer, especially with all of the equally heavy questions setting up on defense. The window is definitely open with the changes at Western Michigan, so now is the time to make the move.