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A look at Central Michigan's season, by the numbers

The Chippewas finished 7-6, but what do the numbers have to say about the inaugural season of the Bonamego era?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Records can tell the tale of a team's season pretty well. However, that tally of wins and losses does not begin to capture the innumerable amount of factors that play into a team's season. There are many secrets to a team that lie behind the face of their record that can help to truly encompass the true story of a team.

(All of these statistics were found using cfbstats)


For Central Michigan, the offensive side of the ball was overridden with inconsistency. The Chips received solid play at quarterback, thanks to Second Team All-MAC selection Cooper Rush, but he couldn't carry the entire offensive unit.

Scoring Offense

Central Michigan did not finish in an ideal spot in this category, ending up in the bottom third out of 128 FBS programs. The Chippewas ranked 88th in the nation in scoring offense, putting up only 25.8 points per game. Their 336 total points scored on the season can be attributed to 41 touchdowns (25 passing, 16 rushing) and 16 field goals. With an inconsistent rushing attack, Central Michigan was unable to put up a lot of points against stronger opponents, playing in low-scoring affairs. This very fact is a major reason that they ended the year so far down in this statistic. This ranking is not far off from their finish last season, which was slightly better at 81st in the country.

Rushing Offense

Close your eyes. This is where the Chippewas struggled immensely - in part, because of an early season-ending injury to starter Devon Spalding. This is the worst rushing season Central Michigan has experienced since 2010, when Paris Cotton led the team in rushing with 646 yards on the ground. This year's total of 1,317 rushing yards was good for 125th in the nation, trailing only Georgia State (air-raid offense), UCF (0-12), and Washington State (also, air-raid offense). Just in case you couldn't tell, John Bonamego's Chips are not an air-raid team. For a balanced offense, these numbers are abysmal, and the rushing attack will need to be addressed to improve next year. However, it is a legitimate point that injuries killed this part of the offense, which never allowed for one back to take over as the true starter. No running back finished with over 400 yards, and there were four running backs with over 50 carries. This is a drastic disappointment compared to last season, which wasn't overly special in itself. The Chippewas finished 76th in the country in rushing in 2014, averaging 155.23 yards on the ground per game, totaling 2018 yards on the season. There is hope, though, as true freshman Romello Ross strung together a couple of promising performances towards the end of the season.

Passing Offense

You can open your eyes again. If it weren't for Cooper Rush, Jesse Kroll, Ben McCord, and the rest of the Chippewa passing game, CMU would not have gotten close to seven wins this season. Rush's 3,848 passing yards were good enough for 19th in the nation, making it the most successful facet of the Chippewa offense. With five receivers over 500 yards on the season, Central Michigan was a model for effectively spreading the ball around. Cooper Rush threw for 25 touchdowns this season, averaging just over 300 yards per game. However, the Chippewas lose two of their top five receivers this season, so younger guys such as Eric Cooper and Corey Willis will have to step up in order to repeat this season's outcome. Surprisingly, the absence of Titus Davis led to more passing yards, as the Chips finished only 53rd in this category last season. Despite Davis's incredible talent, it is widely known that Cooper Rush felt the need to force the ball to him, in order for him to get more touches, which may very well have restricted the overall potential of the passing game.

Total Offense

Since the passing and rushing offenses contrasted so much, this statistic seems to find a balance between the two. Central Michigan finished 63rd in the nation in total offense, which is right around the middle of the road. The Chips averaged 401.7 yards per game, a total of 5,222 yards on offense throughout the entire season.This is not much of a change from last season, when they finished 70th, with 5,175 total offensive yards.


This unit definitely proved to be this team's calling card. All season, the Chippewas held opposing offenses in check, except for three contests where the opponent scored at least thirty points. Despite these rare occasions, Central Michigan was not only a top defense in the MAC, but also in the nation.

Scoring Defense

The Chips gave up a mere 286 total points on the season, the exact same number as Oklahoma and Texas A&M. This averages out to 22.0 points per game, an incredible number for this defense who played a couple of top power five teams in Oklahoma State and Michigan State. These statistics work in great favor for Central Michigan, earning them a 28th ranking in the country in this category, improved from last season, when they finished 46th in the country.

Rushing Defense

Central Michigan's defense made a national imprint with their play this season, including their run stopping ability. Giving up only 139.23 yards on the ground per game, the Chippewas were able to secure the 29th best rushing defense in the country. Incredible play by the linebacking core helped this defense to stop the run, most notably, Malik Fountain and Tim Hamilton. This ranking is a slight drop from last season, when they finished 21st in the nation in this category.

Passing Defense

The Chippewas cracked the top 25 in this category, landing right at 25th. This ranking is especially impressive since the defensive secondary was extremely young, outside of standout senior safety/linebacker hybrid Kavon Frazier. Central Michigan allowed only 193.0 yards per game through the air, a huge testament to the job done by John Bonamego and defensive coordinator Greg Colby. The secondary caused enough disruption, allowing a mere 58.2% completion percentage by opposing quarterbacks. The play from the entire pass defense was much more effective, as they finished 74th last season, compared to this year's 25th ranking.

Total Defense

The most impressive defense statistic by far. Giving up a mere average of 332.2 yards per game is a tremendous accomplishment for this group. This total gave the Chippewas the 16th best total defense in the nation, which is definitely an improvement from last season, when they finished 30th. Overall defensive play improved immensely, and these numbers speak for themselves.