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Central Michigan Chippewas at Boston College Eagles: Five Things Learned

Not all who wander are lost.... right?

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It was just one of those days for the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-3, 0-1 MAC) as they ran into the defensive buzzsaw that is the Boston College Eagles (2-3, 0-2 ACC) on the road Saturday night.

Both teams came in on two-game losing streaks and were looking to reverse course with a momentum-boosting win going into their full conference schedules. IN their previous matchup, BC managed to hold a lead vs. defending national champion Clemson before fading late in the fourth quarter. CMU, meanwhile, got buried early against the Miami RedHawks at home.

A win here would surely shore up bowl hopes for both sides, as each team is in a hypercompetitive division within their conference. So to say the least, the stakes were high in Chestnut Hill on Saturday.

What did we learn?

The injuries pile up.

Things only get worse before they get better for the Chippewas, as senior captain Devon Spalding, the team’s most experienced rusher, was declared out prior to the start of the game against BC.

That made for a nearly untenable situation on offense, with Logan Hessbrook, Tyler Conklin, Corey Willis and Brandon Childress already ruled out due to various injuries of their own.

No receiver has been able to step up and take the mantle of Willis’ or Childress’ production, as drops and miscommunication have been prominent with the mixing in of new additions. Eric Cooper (two receptions, 14 yards) and Damon Terry (two receptions, 10 yards) just simply have not ben able to fill the void so far.

Willis’ timetable should have him back in time for CMU’s second or third conference game, and Conklin should hopefully back by then too. It would be much needed to help the Chips find any form of rhythm.

The offense, for all its regression, showed some promise.

Yes, injuries have played a role, but the Chippewa offense has struggled to really implent the new spread look. Shane Morris looked absolutely lost at points, completing only 50 percent of his passes and throwing three interceptions.

Coming into the season, we all knew this would be a rebuilding process for the Chippewas and it’s definitely showing itself in spades right now. Going from a pro-style, multiple system to a fast-pace spread-’em-out will take multiple seasons to fully transition into, but it’s certainly painful to watch right now.

All that said, Jonathan Ward has shown himself to be capable weapon on offense. He was the second leading receiver and rusher on the day, with 80 total yards on 10 carries and four receptions.

Tony Poljan also showed the ability to be more than just a backup QB. He was recruited as a tight end by multiple Big Ten schools, and Coach John Bonamego used some of those skills to CMU’s advantage, leading the Chips in receiving yards (61.)

Special teams killed the Chippewas early.

Special teams has been by far the most consistent unit on the Chippewa roster, but they laid a dud on Saturday.

Jack Sheldon seemed to be flustered and kicked three direct line drives to BC’s dangerous kick returner Michael Walker, who gave BC starting field position deep in Chippewa territory three times, including a 61-yard return to start a drive on the 6-yard line.

Michael Armstrong also missed a field goal, which certainly didn’t help CMU’s attempt to make the scoreboard look a little bit better.

Even the punt and kick return units looked off all night, unable to get blocks going and not allowing CMU to have god field position throughout. The one missed field goal return by Amari Coleman towards the end of the first half was ultimatly called back due to a block in the back penalty, the second time that’s happened in as mamy weeks.

It has to be killing Coach Bono, a 16-year special teams coordinator at the NFL level, to see so many mistakes.

Penalties, penalties, penalties.

I’ll be as frank as I can: the Chippewas played undisciplined football for the second week in a row.

They had six penalties for 53 yards on the game, once again with many of those occuring in key game situations. The Chippewas had a fourth-and-long all but covered in the first half before Mitch Stantizek ultimately roughed the passer, allowing an automatic first down and 15 yards, placing the ball deep in CMU territory.

The beforementioned block in the back, comnbined with several personal foul calls agianst CMU really doomed them from the start. If they don’t clean up their act now, they’re never going to be able to compete on a consistent basis.

The defense was a lone bright spot despite unfavorable circumstances.

The defense once again had to bale out the offense in order to keep CMU’s hopes of an upset alive in this game and they did the best they could.

THe defense only allowed 309 yards total from Boston College, forced two turnovers (both recovered fumbles) and even got a safety to start the game and give CMU the lead on the first possession of the game.

Anthony Brown was limited to 85 yards passing and the three rushing touchdowns were largely short bursts set up by bad special teams coverage. This was done without key defensive contributor Chris Kantzevelos, a speed-rushing defensive tackle, who really sets the pace of play for the defensive line.

The defensive backfield played a good game as well, as the leading receiver for BC, Jeff Smith, managed only 35 yards on two receptions. They also had multiple opportunities to force interceptions, but just couldn’t hold on. The aggressive defense managed to help the Chippewas and that’s what the team will have to lean on moving forward.