I’m still in genuine shock about everything that just happened on Saturday afternoon. Central Michigan managed to pull off a fantastic win despite the odds on the road vs. #22 Oklahoma State thanks to the arm of Cooper Rush and the hands of Corey Willis and Jesse Kroll.
The game was not the final four seconds and one untimed down, however. The Chippewas managed to stay in the game thanks to a variety of factors, which will be discussed below.
Cooper Rush is gonna be just fine.
There was some legitimate fear coming into the OK State game that Cooper Rush was going to struggle after what many would describe as a pedestrian effort vs. FCS also-ran Presbyterian. Initial struggles to adjust to the Cowboys defense in the first quarter cemented those fears.
Rush would recover, however, and really got the momentum going early with tight end Tyler Conklin, who proved to be key in the game. Rush ended the night 30-of-42 for 361 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Rush looked very comfortable in a hostile environment against a legitimate Power Five defense, which means nothing but good things moving forward.
The CMU defense is a force to be reckoned with.
The Chippewa defense was statistically the best in the MAC and sixteenth in total defense nationally last season and with eight starters from last season returning, the results were expected to be more of the same.
That was ultimately the result. CMU held a nationally-ranked OK State to just 338 yards of total offense and limited time of possession to 24:33 seconds, standing their ground in key moments to force field goals that ultimately determined the game.
The Chips were stout on third and fourth down conversions as well, stonewalling OK State 10 out of 11 times on third-down and once on two fourth-down attempts. The defense set up great opportunities for the offense to generate points.
Josh Cox is a legitimate baller.
I have to give a special mention to Cox, who had an outstanding game for the Chippewas at the corner spot. Cox was lined up against the Pokes’ best WR all day and managed to limit any major destruction, with two pass breakups in the endzone and one more in the red zone to help the Chips. Cox also had a momentum-shifting interception in the endzone on a Cowboys drive where he anticipated the pass so much, he looked like the intended receiver.
Cox has developed into a wonderful cover corner with hawking ability in just two short years and it will be fun to watch him paired up against some of the better receivers in the MAC during the conference season.
Cooper Mojsiejenko seems to have won the starting punting duties.
The Presbyterian game saw CMU utilize two punters, in what was surely a strange arrangement at the time.
However, Mojsiejenko has definitely won the position battle after Jack Sheldon, the Australian, struggled at game speed. Mojsiejenko had a decent outing flipping the field, with six punts averaging 43.6 yards per kick. Mojsiejenko’s development will be key to setting up the defense for success in tight situations.
That offensive line needs work.
Woof, did the offensive line have a hard time against the Pokes defense. Rush was getting hit after almost every play and often had to scramble with pressure applied to him. Multiple sacks were given up at key junctures and running holes just were not there for the backs, which indirectly affected CMU’s ability to run the ball.
This is bad news for a team predicated on the play action and using the run to set up the pass. Adjustments will most definitely have to be made going into next week’s matchup.
That being said, the offensive line gave Rush all kinds of time and a pocket in that final untimed down to help seal the game, so there is some hope for the line.
CMU next faces UNLV in Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2:30 p.m. EST, a game that will be televised on ESPN3.