Half weeks kind of suck. A few of the games had exciting endings but there weren't many major players, if any, in action. Four games, eight teams, and just one with a winning record. The televised game was a battle of last-place opponents, but it turned out to be the one worth talking about, oddly enough.
Yes, this is longform analysis on Central Michigan and Akron. No, you were not expecting this.
Akron didn't look like they had any shot of keeping pace with a struggling Central Michigan team once the Chips took a 20-0 lead in the third quarter. UA had a bit of success scoring in weeks past, but they finally saw some neat results in that third once their rising running back star Jawon Chisholm scampered free for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 20-6.
Ianello decided to run a fancy trick play on their PAT. They used John Griggs, normally a defensive end, as a fullback carrier, but he was nowhere near the end zone on the try. So they remained an even 14 points behind CMU.
The fun really began for the Zips as they broke out some crazy Rube Goldberg action. Following a steady dose of Chisholm rushes, Ianello called for a double-reverse pass play, using wide receiver Dylan Potts (a HS quarterback) to chuck it 41 yards to A.J. Price to set up a first and goal. But that was a fruitless exercise; they had to kick a field goal. This didn't cut down the number of scores they required, but the lead was still 11 — and CMU would later kick a field goal of their own, so perhaps this one was done properly.
But the drama heightened as the Chippewas were trying to hold onto a 23-16 lead with 1:47 left. They couldn't ice the game with a rushing first down, nor could they stop Clayton Moore on the drive. Marquelo Suel was wide open as time expired on the touchdown catch, capping off a breakout day for him — 11 catches, 112 yards, two touchdowns.
A PAT would tie it. And that's what you normally do at home. Ianello kept the offense on the field. Moore's pass went incomplete.
As the dust settled and Dan Enos' job just became a bit more secure, Ianello left the game with an even bigger reputation as a risk-taker. Using Griggs as a ball carrier and a 2-point conversion play reserved for "stealing one" on the road is going to hurt him a lot. Obviously if it worked, he looks great. But such daring plays are usually done with a team who looks purely comfortable in this offense. And many of the key players are still trying to get there. Moore doesn't look exceptionally accurate in the pro-style offense (25-for-40 is good for him). Momentum was fairly on their side, especially as Akron has been playing rather deftly in the second half while CMU has been much the opposite.
I'm sure he'd make those same decisions again. I'm sure he has faith in his team. And maybe at 1-6, there's nothing left but to go "all in" with a small pile of chips in order to restore faith in the fans, the school and and his bosses. The counterpoint: two years is not yet enough time to properly judge a coach. Stan Parrish was canned after two bad years and was replaced with Pete Lembo. That worked. Meanwhile, EMU gave Ron English a third year, and that has worked out.
I'm of the mindset that you don't remove somebody after a second year just because the wins and losses aren't there. But the decisions haven't helped much, either. What his team has shown is an ability to come-from-behind and score some points. The team's getting better, and hopefully his playcalling will also start to fit the ability of his team for the rest of the season and next. But his decisions against Central Michigan were a total flub.