Rushing game slows down, still efficient against Michigan State
After Michigan State only allowed 32 rushing yards to Boise State, Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos indicated his game plan would be altered.
“Against a defense like that, I didn’t want to call a run on first down, run on second down and then throw on third,” Enos said. “We wanted to keep them off balance, run some play action.”
On Aug. 30, CMU rushed for 324 yards against Southeast Missouri State. Saturday, the Chippewas only mustered up 72 yards against the MSU defense.
Senior Zurlon Tipton and sophomore Anthony Garland were still efficient. Tipton had 11 carries for 62 yards for 5.6 yards a carry – a week after averaging over 10 yards a carry for a career-high 180 yards. Garland only had three carries against MSU but gained 12 yards – still a four-yard average.
But Enos had another reason not to run the ball more.
“Also, when you get down, you gotta take shots downfield,” he said.
Down nearly the entire game – especially by more than three touchdowns the whole second half – CMU needed to score without running the clock out. That made running the ball, and the clock, not a smart asset.
During the Chippewas’ most successful drive – 66 yards on 15 plays – they kept that balance offensively. They had 36 rushing yards on five carries and 30 receiving yards on four completions.
“I think we established that if we can run the ball against these guys, we should be able to run the ball against people in our league,” Enos said.
He said with MSU putting so many players in the box – close to the line of scrimmage to stop the run – they wanted to take advantage with play-action passing. The passing game struggled with quarterback Ryan Radcliff only completing 45 percent of his passes and throwing two interceptions.
“I mean, obviously me and Ryan are good friends, so I’ll always have his back, but I think he’d say he probably missed a few throws and missed a few guys,” senior CMU wide receiver Cody Wilson said.
CMU’s next opponent, Iowa, allowed 147 rushing yards against Northern Illinois in week one. Saturday Iowa played Iowa State and allowed 101 yards, but the rushing defense for the Hawkeyes was strong, and the Cyclones attempted 41 rushes – averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
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