#103 Central Michigan Football 2013 Preview

Central Michigan Chippewas

Overall Rank: #103
#7 Mid-American
Central Michigan 2013 Football Preview
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Under Coach Dan Enos Central Michigan finally started to turn things around during the 2012 campaign. The result was a trip to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl where they earned a victory over Western Kentucky. Coach Enos hopes to build off of that success, but he does have some rebuilding to do. The Chippewas got hot at the end of the year in large part due to the play of the offensive line. Of course, tackle Eric Fisher is gone after being drafted first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, so there are some big shoes to fill.

2012 Record: (7-6, 4-4)
2012 Bowl: Little Caesars Pizza Bowl vs. Western Kentucky (W 24-21)
Coach: Dan Enos (13-24 at Central Michigan, 13-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Cummings
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Tumpkin

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Zurlon Tipton, RB, 1,531 yards
Passing: Cody Kater, QB, 12 yards
Receiving: Titus Davis, WR, 860 yards
Tackles: Justin Cherocci, LB, 132
Sacks: Leterrius Walton, DT, 2.5
Interceptions: Avery Cunningham, S, 2; Jason Wilson, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: C Nick Beamish, LB Shamari Benton, S Jason Chapman, G Andy Phillips, WR Courtney Williams

Key Losses: S Jahleel Addae, WR Titus Davis, OT Eric Fisher, G Darren Keyton, DE Joe Kinville, QB Ryan Radcliff, OT Mike Repovz, DE Caesar Rodriguez, WR Cody Wilson, CB Anthony Young

Central Michigan has some talent on defense. They do lose both starting defensive ends, but the pass rush was non-existent last year anyway. Defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin would likely have to bring some blitz packages to get any consistent pressure into the backfield. The hope is experienced ends like Kenny McClendon and Blake Serpa can get something going. There are also a handful of youngsters who will be given an opportunity if McClendon and Serpa falter. Inside linebackers Shamari Benton and Justin Cherocci are the tacklers of the team. With CMU’s system, the inside linebackers are going to get a lot of tackles, Benton and Cherocci combined for 258 last year, but those two did not miss many tackle opportunities. The secondary is one of the most experienced units on the entire team. Safety Jahleel Addae is gone, but the Chippewas should have a better pass defense this year. They may not make as many big plays with Addae, but safety Avery Cunningham is poised for a big year. Jarret Chapman and Jason Wilson are both returning starters in the secondary. The secondary will be thoroughly tested if the line cannot get pressure on the quarterback again. If that happens, the talent in the defensive backfield will not live up to their potential.

The offensive line is not the only problem Central Michigan may have on offense. Central Michigan will head into the fall with a quarterback battle to replace Ryan Radcliff. During his senior season, Radcliff threw for 3,158 yards and 23 touchdowns. Cody Kater, a 6-3 junior, is the most experienced option. After a year at the junior college ranks, Kater was the only other quarterback to see action beside Radcliff in 2012. However, it was sophomore Alex Niznak who impressed during the spring. Redshirt freshman Cooper Rush is also in the mix. Niznak is the most mobile of the bunch, but Kater’s experience may be too much to pass on when push comes to shove. Either way, the new quarterback has a great group of wide receivers to work with. Cody Wilson, who led the team with 74 receptions, is gone, but big play receiver Titus Davis returns. He caught 43 passes for 860 yards and eight touchdowns. Jerry Harris is back after missing all but two games in 2012 and sophomore Andrew Flory is another potential big play receiver to keep an eye on. However, Courtney Williams may feel a lot of pressure to turn into the possession receiver to replace Wilson. Having big play receivers is nice, but somebody needs to be the sure-handed receiver that Wilson was in 2012. And do not expect such gaudy numbers from the receivers with a new quarterback who will not likely have much time in the pocket.

The Bottom Line:
Central Michigan’s passing attack has been up and down over the years. They will throw the ball, but this could be a down year for the passing attack if everything does not work out. That is where running back Zurlon Tipton will have to take over. After rushing for 1,492 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, the 6-1 Detroit native can certainly take over the offense at times. But Tipton will be the entire focus of the opposing defense while the passing game gains its footing. The longer that takes, the longer Central Michigan’s offense will struggle.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 150.54 (72nd in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 244.23 (51, 6)
Total Offense: 394.77 (63, 7)
Scoring Offense: 28.85 (63, 7)
Rushing Defense: 192.85 (93, 8)
Pass Defense: 241.08 (73, 9)
Total Defense: 433.92 (89, 7)
Scoring Defense: 32.38 (94, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (50, 6)
Sacks: 1.38 (100, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (17, 2)


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