Sure it was a win. And yes it counts. But the Central Michigan Chippewas should not be satisfied with an ugly win over a FCS school on opening night. Although the game counts as a check on the left side of the standings sheet, finding satisfaction in an anemic offensive performance against an inferior opponent is dangerous. If the Central Michigan Chippewas are to return to the glory of the Brian Kelly and Butch Jones era, fans need to expect more of a team and its coaching staff that has the talent to compete.
How It Happened
The Central Michigan Chippewas welcomed the Chattanooga Mocs to Kelly Shorts Stadium and then treated them to a come from behind 20-16 victory. It was a win but it wasn’t as easy as it should have been for the Chippewas. Central Michigan fell behind 16 points before Cooper Rush hit WR James Kroll for a 18 yard touchdown pass to break the ice for the Chips.
The Chippewas scored twice in the third quarter. The first on a touchdown run from senior running back Thomas Rawls and the second on a pass from Rush to Courtney Williams. The fourth quarter was scoreless and the Chippewas escaped with a 20-16 win.
After last season everyone expected Saylor Lavalli to take the starting job after filling in for Zurlon Tipton last season. But Lavalli failed to nail down the job ion fall camp forcing head coach Dan Enos to go with a running back by committee for the opener. Senior running back Thomas Rawls took full advantage of the opportunity by rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown. Rawls transferred to CMU from Michigan and is looking to impress at the MAC level.
Anemic Offense Must Improve
The Central Michigan Chippewas managed only 321 yards of offense in their win against an FCS opponent. 321 yards of offense is serviceable but compared to how rivals Eastern and Western fared on Saturday it falls woefully short of acceptable.
Eastern Michigan opened the season against the Morgan State Bears. Despite having a proven rusher in Bronson Hill, the Eagles also used a running back by committee and racked-up 292 yards on the ground. Eastern’s passing game managed only 99 yards but still posted a total of 391 yards of offense and 31 points. That is 70 yards and 11 points more than the Chippewas while playing a similar opponent at home.
The Western Michigan Broncos had to open the season on the road against the Purdue Boilermakers. The 1-11 Broncos struggled to score points last season so one might assume the Broncos offense would get shut down against a Big Ten defense.
You know what they say about assuming.
The Broncos offense accounted for 407 yards of total offense including 226 yards on the ground. Western also put up 34 points in their loss to Purdue. That is 86 more yards and 14 more points than the Central Michigan Chippewas posted against Chattanooga. And the Broncos accomplished that on the road against a Big Ten opponent.
Admittedly these direct comparisons may not be fair to the Chippewas but it illustrates the potential the both in-state rivals could surpass Central this season. It is a long season and there is plenty of football to play but if opening weekend is any indication, the Chippewas have a long way to go if they are to compete in the MAC West.