The Chattanooga Mocs proudly claim actor Hugh Beaumont as one of their own. Beaumont gained cult status as the square jawed father of Theodore Cleaver aka Beaver Cleaver on the television show Leave it to Beaver. Beaver had several antagonists, but none more notable than the infamous trickster Eddie Haskell.
The Mocs have their own infamous trickster in sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman. Heusman is 13-7 as a starter and was honored as 2013 Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Heusman is currently also on the Walter Payton Award Watch List, the FCS' equivalent of the Heisman, and a preseason All-American.
In 2013, Huesman rushed for 170 yards against Georgia Southern on Nov. 2, and passed for four touchdowns on Oct. 5 against Western Carolina. He led his team to an impressive 8-4 record while it averaged 361 yards per game in total offense. The Mocs finished ranked number 25 in the final FCS Coaches Poll.
The Mocs also tout Southern Conference 2013 Defensive Player of the Year in junior defensive end Davis Tull. Tull anchored a defense that led the Southern Conference in total defense and scoring defense. The Mocs defense enabled Chattanooga to post its fourth winning season in the last five years. It should also be noted that Tull is the first Academic All-American in program history.
Clearly, these Mocs are not patsy FCS opponents as they are capable of punching with any MAC middleweight.
Cooper Rush is to Wally Cleaver what Jacob Huesman is to Eddie Haskell. The Central Michigan sophomore is a humble dependable star. Rush took over last year when his team desperately needed him most following an injury to starter Cody Kader and a poor performance by Kader's replacement. Rush's numbers mimic the Chippewas' 6-6 recod for 2013, but the trip was anything but a straight trajectory.
Cooper threw for 15 touchdowns, but he also had 15 interceptions. He completed 177 passes on 312 attempts for a 56.7 percent completion rate. Statistically, Cooper could not have hugged the center line any tighter. However, some nasty blowout losses where Cooper had difficulty skewed a complete evaluation of his performance in 2013.
Rush was pushed by senior teammate Cody Kader in spring ball and summer practice, but head coach Dan Enos elected to stand by Cooper. The strategy appears to be that the Chips' offense can build around the experience Cooper gained last year.
CMU has some talented cast members ready to support their young quarterback. Senior receiver Titus Davis has been identified as an NFL prospect with numerous accompanying accolades. Davis alone is worth the price of admission to any of Central's games as he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Junior running back Saylor Lavallii shared Rush's battlefield promotion experience when star running back Zurlon Tipton went down with an ankle injury in the Chips' first game of 2013. Lavallii was not previously an every down type of running back, but he shouldered the load admirably in 2013 by gaining 807 yards and scoring five touchdowns. Lavallii will have some help this year from University of Michigan transfer Thomas Rawls and senior Anthony Garland, who has converted to fullback at 230 pounds.
A porous sieve was the best way to describe 2013 Central Michigan defense. The good news for Chippewa fans is that injuries created opportunities for several young defenders to gain valuable experience. Sophomore defensive back Tony Annese and sophomore defensive end Joe Ostman made an impression in 2013 and are well worth keeping an eye on when the Chips are on defense. 300 pound senior defensive end Leterrius Walton is the cornerstone of the Chips defense. Look for Walton to keep up the torrid pace he set for 2013 against the Mocs.
The Chips have had a knack for scheduling FCS teams on the rise for for what were supposed to be tune up games. They have done it again with the Mocs. Expect things to get very uncomfortable in Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Thursday night. Hopefully, the Chips' depth and experience will get coach Enos an "A" on his first test of 2014.