Central Michigan looks to replace QB Dan LeFevour and coach Butch Jones.
One win, no losses. That’s how the football team started the 2010 season. Thursday night’s opponents, however, are riding the same high.
Central Michigan (1-0, 0-0), the defending Mid-American Conference champions, arrives at Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night for the first game of conference play. CMU is fresh off its 33-0 shutout of the Hampton Pirates, in which coach Dan Enos’ defense played a pivotal role. Senior linebacker Nick Bellore had a game-high 11 tackles while holding the Hampton offense to 14 total possessions and 129 total yards. This was a bold first statement for Enos and company, but now they have to deal with the two headed rushing attack of the Owls.
Sophomores Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown carried the football fairly well this past Friday against defending Football Championship Subdivision National Champions Villanova in the Mayor’s Cup. While Brown started and got 10 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, Pierce took a majority of the touches having 20 snaps for 75 yards. It appears that the running game is going to be showcased more, but that plan could change if CMU’s stand out sophomore defensive end Caesar Rodriguez has his way.
Rodriguez started his season off right, registering two sacks and forcing a fumble. This could cause some chaos for the Owls, as the Owls’ starting quarterback Chester Stewart had a roller coaster season debut. Stewart got into some trouble when pressured by Villanova’s defense, but eventually settled into the pocket when the offensive line figured out the Wildcat’s scheme.
Look for Central Michigan to stick sophomore defensive back Jahleel Addae on Stewart’s favorite target, senior wide out Mike Campbell. Campbell turned on the jets last week, running past cornerbacks consistently from the start of the game. Addae, on the other hand, made a strong showing by zeroing in for seven tackles along with senior linebacker Matt Berning, who snuffed out any chance of a run game Hampton had.
Temple’s defense is going to be gunning to play a complete game and is going to be looking to control new CMU quarterback Ryan Radcliff. Radcliff, who took over for graduating star Dan LeFevour, had a good game last week completing 20 of his 34 passes for 242 yards.
Temple will counter with the defending MAC Defensive Player of the Year, junior defensive end Adrian Robinson. Robinson held strong in the later minutes of the game last week, making big stops that held Villanova out of the end zone.
Helping Robinson will be the defensive leader of the Owls, senior safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had seven of his own tackles. The Owls defense made big stops late in the game to get the offense back on the field but the team needs to prove it can play four quarters of quality football.
On special teams, sophomore placekicker Brandon McManus gives Temple a chance to score anywhere in Central Michigan’s end. After kicking a 53-yard field goal and going 4-for-5 last week, Golden can have some confidence knowing he has a chance to come away with points every time the offense gets into enemy territory.
Thursday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Christian Audesirk can be reached at email@example.com.