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Monmouth Hawks vs. Central Michigan Chippewas football preview

The Chippewas are looking to rebound against FCS foe Monmouth after coming up short against Oklahoma State last week.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In a much closer game than many expected, Central Michigan gave Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma State a run for their money last Thursday night at Kelly-Shorts Stadium in front of 19,717 fans. A fiery Chippewa squad was able to keep the game close for the majority of the night, but a lack of offensive firepower - especially in the run game - kept the Chippewas off the scoreboard for the bulk of the game. The team did prove, however, that the defense is a strength, even without stud defensive lineman Blake Serpa, who sat out last week's contest due to a hamstring injury.

This week, Central Michigan is changing its view toward the Monmouth Hawks (0-1), an FCS school in the Big South Conference. The Hawks, led by long-tenured head coach Kevin Callahan, are coming off a 27-19 loss to Holy Cross in week one. This weekend's matchup against the Chippewas will be Monmouth's first ever game against an FBS opponent.

The Hawks ran for over 150 yards in their first game, with stud junior running back Levon Chaney leading the team with 99 yards on the ground.

The passing attack was relatively successful, as well, with quarterback Cody Williams completing 22 of 33 attempts for 258 yards through the air. However, ball security was an issue for sophomore gun-slinger, throwing two picks and only one touchdown. He'll have to be careful this week against a stout Chippewa pass rush, and capable defensive backs on the prowl for poorly thrown passes.

The Monmouth defense, however, seemed to keep Holy Cross's passing game in check, giving up only 165 yards on the day. A downfall for the Hawks defense was that they failed to cause any turnovers, which is characteristic of past Monmouth defenses. The unit will need to work on forcing fumbles and gathering interceptions, because it has been proven that a turnover-riddled Central Michigan team does not thrive, no matter their opponent.

The small-school team is not intimidated by the matchup, however. They see it as a tremendous opportunity for the growth of their football program.

Central Michigan is in need of a victory at this stage in the season. A win was within its reach last week, and the team wasn't able to overcome the 24-13 deficit.

However, many good things can be taken from the loss. Cooper Rush had an impressive night, rushing for over 50 yards and throwing for 225. He did not throw any touchdowns, but his control and experience were evident throughout the night, and it was a good sight to see.

A glaring issue was the rushing game. No real push could be accomplished by the offensive line on running plays, and the Chippewa running backs combined for 32 yards on 17 carries, abysmal numbers for a talented tandem of backs. Head coach John Bonamego knows this, and understands the need for major improvement in that area of the offense. It is extraordinarily important for this part of the game to see drastic change, and it will be interesting to watch how the running game develops against a weaker run defense in Monmouth.

The Chippewa defense was surprisingly stout against an Oklahoma State offense known for its firepower. The defensive front was strong, but was not as dominant as it could have been. The absence of Blake Serpa was definitely felt, but did not necessarily weaken the defense's performance. However, the return of Serpa this week will help to fortify this unit, and increase its sack numbers against a smaller, FCS offensive line.

This game will be a test for the Chippewa offensive line, who must play better in order to have success in the running game and put more points on the board. Redshirt senior Ramadan Ahmeti must elevate his level of play, as well as that of his fellow linemen.

Sophomore Devon Spalding is also in need of a rebound game, after rushing for a mere 25 yards last week. He must step up to the plate as the new starting running back for Central Michigan, and show that the drop off from Thomas Rawls last year is not too evident.

The Chippewa defense played great last week, but now the question is whether or not they can sustain that success for the duration of the season, and stay healthy.

The game is scheduled for 3:00 P.M. EST, on Saturday, September 12, at Kelly-Shorts Stadium, on ESPN3.