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The Education Of Cooper Rush Has Been Costly To CMU's Record

CMU freshman quarterback Cooper Rush has been educated in the art of quarterbacking over the last three weeks. But his progress has been slowed by recent poor performances punctuated by fumbles and key interceptions.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

When Central Michigan's junior starting  quarterback, Cody Kater, went down with a broken collarbone against Michigan in Week 1, it forced a pair of inexperienced backups into the starting role, pinning the hopes of a potentially lost season on the backs of a pair of quarterbacks with little in-game experience.

By the end of Week 2, the hopes of the team had fallen on the shoulders of redshirt freshman Cooper Rush. In CMU's come-from-behind win over New Hampshire, he threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns, almost exclusively in the second half after replacing a struggling Alex Niznak. But since then, in two games, he's been plagued by turnovers and poor decision making.

Last week, against Toledo, Rush had four costly turnovers, including a pair of interceptions that basically handed the Rockets the game. The setbacks Rush has experienced will have a long term effect on the chances CMU has for success for the rest of the season. To be sure, Rush has demonstrated skills which make him the clear candidate to assume a key leadership role with the team in the future, but he's also shown his youth and lack of experience.

His teammates must help him out by elevating their play until their future leader is ready. A trio of very talented receivers—Titus Davis, Jerry Harris and Andrew Flory— have done just that, bailing out Rush on several occasions by making circus catches on errant passes.

But as Rush continues to develop, the Chippewas must consider possible solutions. An increased emphasis on the potent combination of Saylor Lavallii running behind the Class 8 diesel known as Adam Fenton could take some of the pressure off of Rush. Anthony Garland can be used to spell Lovallii as well. Niznak is also an option at quarterback. He has support of the faithful from nearby Ithaca, where he was a high school phenom. His strong suit is his feet, but he can light it up and throw long passes to his talented receivers in hopes that they will continue to play at levels exceeding expectations. But he has struggled more so than Rush in his limited action this season as well.

In the short term, Rush will need to observe how to deliver the football to his receivers without an opponent's hands getting in the way. If he can get that under control, CMU's offense should be OK.