COLUMN: Don’t lose hope on CMU football yet; second half looks promising
Ryan Radcliff did something different at practice on Tuesday.
Normally, the first topic we discuss would be what went wrong the week before if the team lost or what worked for him if he had a good performance.
This week, Radcliff spit out a one-liner before moving on to talk about Eastern Michigan.
“Want me to be honest?” he asked. “Last week’s over, we’re in a six-week season now and that’s all that matters.”
The junior quarterback is coming off a game in which he looked both the best he has all season and quite possibly the worst.
From a first half where he completed 88 percent of his passes for 196 yards and two scores, to a second half in which he completed as many passes to Chippewas as he did North Carolina State defenders (four).
While the fans may have been disappointed by the outcomes of recent games, the second half of the schedule is made up of six Mid-American Conference matchups that will decide who plays in the conference championship in December.
At the halfway point, Central Michigan is 2-4 overall. In the MAC, CMU is one of seven teams tied with a 1-1 conference record, including three (EMU, Ball State and Ohio) that are on schedule for the remainder of the season.
Toledo (2-0), Akron (0-2) and Kent State (0-2) are the other three opponents for the Chippewas.
While this season hasn’t been what fans would have wanted to see, the next six weeks should balance out the season, with three games on the road and three at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Having such a banged up team has put head coach Dan Enos in a tough spot, starting and playing double-digit freshmen and redshirt freshmen against strong opponents from the Big Ten, ACC and SEC.
Freshmen Anthony Garland and Ben Brown have gotten reps at running back, recording a combined 133 yards and a touchdown to help fill the hole an injured Zurlon Tipton left behind.
Freshmen wideouts Titus Davis and Courtney Williams have been able to get in and make plays, recording 218 yards and 142 yards respectively, each finding the end zone for the first time in their careers.
The linebacker core started the season looking strong, made up of seniors Armond Staten and Mike Petrucci and sophomore Sharmari Benton. All three linebackers went down in the first game of the season and have been in and out of the lineup.
Such inconsistency in the lineup has forced true freshmen Cody Lopez and Ryan Petro and redshirt freshman Justin Cherocci to take the bulk of the responsibility at linebacker from game-to-game.
Getting these young guys into game situations is what a young team needs and will help in the second half of the season.
Pre-game jitters on the road begin to fade and those guys learn that big-name opponents or bigger stadiums are just irrelevant details and a football game becomes just that.
While the bad news is the team didn’t get out to the start that the fans or the team itself wanted, its goal of winning the Mid-American Conference possible looking at the remaining schedule.
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