#101 Central Michigan Football 2015 Preview

Central Michigan Chippewas

Overall Rank: #101
#8 Mid-American

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Central Michigan has hit a bit of stagnant patch the last few years. They have been 7-6, 6-6 and finally 7-6 again last year. That certainly is not bad, especially compared to their 3-9 marks from the two previous campaigns. But Dan Enos moved on and the Chippewas picked up John Bonamego, who spent most of the last two decades a special teams coordinator in the NFL.

2014 Record: 7-6, 5-3
2014 Bowl: Popeyes Bahamas Bowl vs. Western Kentucky (L 49-48)
Coach: John Bonamego (0-0 at Central Michigan, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Morris Watts
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Colby

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Devin Spalding, RB, 371 yards
Passing: Cooper Rush, QB, 3157 yards
Receiving: Jessee Kroll, WR, 582 yards
Tackles: Tony Annese, DB, 74
Sacks: Blake Serpa, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Tony Annese, DB, 3; Brandon Greer, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: DB Amari Coleman, K Brain Eavey, DL Joe Ostman, OL Nick Beamish

Key Losses: RB Thomas Rawls, WR Titus Davis, WR Deon Butler, LB Justin Cherocci, OL Andy Phillips, DL Leterrius Walton

The memorable game for CMU last season was the thrilling 49-48 loss to Western Kentucky in the Bahamas Bowl. However, that was not indicative of Central Michigan’s defense. On the whole, the defense was pretty good and they held six opponents to 17 points or fewer. Getting to the quarterback did not happen too often, but ends Blake Serpa and Joe Ostman combined for 22.5 tackles-for-loss last season. If the new staff wants to keep attacking the run game, they have the tools to do so up front. Linebacker could be more of an issue where the Chips must replace leading tackler Justin Cherocci. The lack of a pass rush made life tough for the secondary in 2014 and the story could be the same in 2015. That means safety Tony Annese and corners Brandon Greer and Josh Cox need to step it up.

The offense was solid last season, averaging 26.9 points per game and ranking seventh in the MAC in both rushing and passing offense. Quarterback Cooper Rush is back after throwing for 3,157 yards and 27 touchdowns. However, there are a lot of other key players to replace. Both Titus Davis, who caught 60 passes for 980 yards and 13 touchdowns, and tight end Deon Butler need to be replaced. Jesse Kroll and Anthony Rice, along with tight end Ben McCord, will need to be more productive. Replacing running back Thomas Rawls could be more difficult. He rushed for 1,103 yards and ten touchdowns. Devon Spalding showed promise and potential as a freshman, rushing for 371 yards on 73 carries. How well he performs with a larger workload will go a long way in determining Central Michigan’s success.

The Bottom Line:
Three six or seven win seasons in a row is not bad. There are major concerns that CMU could take a step back with the coaching change, but Coach Bonamego and his staff deserve a lot of credit for keeping the recruiting class together despite not being hired until after Signing Day. Replacing Davis and Rawls and moving the offense towards a no-huddle, up-tempo style could prove to be the bigger issue. The defense is good, but they will be asked to do even more in 2015.

Projected Bowl: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 155.2 (74th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 242.8 (52, 7)
Total Offense: 398.1 (67, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.9 (79, 8)
Rushing Defense: 122.9 (21, 2)
Pass Defense: 232.5 (73, 6)
Total Defense: 355.5 (29, 1)
Scoring Defense: 25.2 (45, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.38 (95, 11)
Sacks: 1.54 (99, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (70, 10)


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