Things went about as expected in East Lansing, Michigan yesterday as the Central Michigan Chippewas encountered many a difficulty in their meeting with the #21 Michigan State Spartans. What can the Chips take away from being down 31-3 after three quarters?
Nowhere To Run
CMU’s woes in the ground game continued on Saturday as it was held to 2.9 yards per rush with quarterback Tommy Lazzaro leading the way with 32 rushing yards. Jonathan Ward was held to 26 yards on eight carries in a game where Central Michigan was just physically overmatched. Hopefully, John Bonamego and company can make the correction in time for a strong showing in conference play.
Nowhere To Throw
Lazzaro didn’t fare much better in the passing game as he went 19-34 for 153 yards, two interceptions, a score, and took three sacks. Six of those passe were broken up by MSU defenders as the Chips’ receivers couldn’t shake loose. No one really established themselves as a go-to receiver, so that has to be an area of concern for CMU going forward.
Chips’ D Fired Up
Despite the offense’s shortcomings, the defense for CMU played admirably with holding the Spartans to 3.4 yards per carry, 185 passing yards, and no passing TDs allowed to go with an interception. Malik Fountain had his typical great game with 15 tackles and 1.5 TFLs. If the defense can sustain its play in MAC contests, Central Michigan will have a chance to win some games if the offense can get its act together.
Rising To The Challenge?
To compound its troubles, CMU didn’t make the timely plays it needed to make during the course of the game. The team went 4-14 on third down and 1-1 on fourth down, while MSU went 5-12 on third down, 2-2 on fourth down, and scored on five of their six red zone trips. The Chips need to get conversions to sustain drives as well as find ways to get of the field defensively, or else the team will have some struggles in MAC play.
Michigan State had a dramatic edge in field position that made it hard for CMU to get anything going. The Chips allowed 8.7 yards per punt return and 35 yards per kickoff return, while only mustering 3 and 10.8 yards per return in those respective categories. Special teams are a big deal in college football (just ask Western Michigan and Miami) so that is a phase that needs to be addressed before Central Michigan gets going in conference action.