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Five Things Learned: Maine Black Bears at Central Michigan Chippewas

What do the Chips need to fix before heading into MAC play?

Central Michigan v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Not many fans expected the Central Michigan Chippewas to win 17-5 against the MAine Black Bears, but that’s what happened on Saturday as CMU struggled against a very good FCS team. Seeing the score may be cause for panic, but should CMU fans panic before the team begins conference play? Let’s find out.

Running Game Nonexistent

It’s fitting that the Chips played a team from the land of Stephen King because their running game was like a ghost with 2.3 yards per carry. Quarterback Tommy Lazarro led the way with 44 yards while Jonathan Ward averaged 1.1 yards per carry on 15 rushes. CMU needs to take a serious look at the running game and make corrections, or it’ll be a long season for the Chippewas.

Inefficient Passing Game

Lazarro had a rough time in his first start as he went for 7-16 for 82 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and got sacked three times. A majority of those yards came off of chunk plays as Julian Hicks and Tony Poljan hauled in receptions of 37 and 23 yards respectively. The Chips need to make it a point to sustain drives with short to intermediate throws, or the offense won’t be on the field very much.

Magic Mike Danna

Despite the offense’s struggles, the defense had a tremendous outing that was highlighted by Danna’s five TFLs and four sacks. His mates on the defensive line pitched in with the pressure as Nate Brisson-Fast and Sean Adesanya combined for 3.5 TFLs and a pair of sacks on Saturday. If Central Michigan can get this kind of production on a consistent basis, then the team won’t really need a whole lot from its offense.

Timely Stops

In addition to the gaudy numbers put up by the defensive line, the defensive unit made stops early that altered the momentum of the game. The goal line stand in the second quarter where CMU stopped the Black Bears at the one-yard line kept the game scoreless, Da’Quaun Jamison’s first career interception set up CMU’s first touchdown of the game, and the defense forced a Maine punt from their own three-yard line as Jamil Sabbagh returned it to the 23-yard line to set up a Chippewa field goal.

You Shall Not Pass

The defense was also effective against the aerial attack Maine as it held the starting QB to 16-32 for 162 yards and two interceptions. Malik Fountain nabbed the other interception in the closing stages of the game to ice it as the defending MAC West Defensive Player of the Week recorded ten tackles.