Chippewas host South Carolina State in football opener
The Central Michigan football team kicks off its 2011 season on Thursday night when it hosts South Carolina State.
It will be the third straight year that CMU will play its home opener against an FCS team.
“(SCS) is a very good football team that was 9-3 last year,” said head coach Dan Enos. “They’re coached well and it’s going to be a challenge.”
Last season, CMU opened the season with a 33-0 victory over Hampton — a team that also finished 9-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Returning as the starting quarterback in his junior season, Ryan Radcliff is more confident in Enos’ offensive scheme and quarterbacks coach Morris Watts said is shows.
“He’s throwing the ball on time and getting it to the right receivers,” Watts said. “There are very few throws he makes now without his feet under him, though of course he’ll throw incomplete passes like any quarterback.”
Despite suffering a thumb injury during the last weeks of practice leading up to the season opener, Enos said there is no health concern and that Radcliff will be at 100 percent come Thursday.
Radcliff’s top target — junior Cody Wilson — will return after a career season in which he caught 83 passes for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns.
The Chippewas bring in four running backs that expect to earn carries, led by senior Parris Cotton, who registered 651 yards and six touchdowns last season.
CMU finished fifth in the Mid-American Conference West last season, which included a 3-9 record, finishing 2-6 in the conference play.
SCS finished quite the opposite, going 9-3 and 7-1 in the MEAC, securing an FCS playoff berth.
“We don’t underestimate anybody,” Enos said. “When you’re coming off a 3-9 season, we’re preparing for this game like it’s the Super Bowl.”
The Bulldogs are led by junior quarterback Derrick Wiley, whose speed and scrambling ability makes him a threat on the ground as well as through the air.
Playing a backup role in 2010, he threw for 103 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore Tyler McDonald and junior Thomas Williams, are both returning after 250+ yard seasons, each finding the end zone twice.
Two of the team’s top three rushers from 2010, Asheton Jordon and Chris Merrill, who combined for 999 yards and 13 touchdowns, are returning.
CMU starts 10 upperclassman on offense and nine on defense, while SCS’s starters include seven upperclassmen on offense and eight on defense.
“I think we look really good,” Wilson said. “I’m really excited to get out there and play.”
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