The football team knows being outscored 40-7 in the fourth quarter the last two games is not a recipe for victory.
But despite the scoreboard, Central Michigan played the top two teams in the Mid-American Conference West Division, Northern Illinois and Toledo, close for the first three quarters.
“It doesn’t come down to playing four quarters; it comes down to making the plays,” head coach Dan Enos said. “There were times Saturday (against Toledo), we didn’t make plays. And when we beat Iowa and Southeast Missouri (State), we made those plays in the third and fourth quarters.”
CMU will get another chance to put together four full quarters at 8 p.m. today when it returns home to face Navy.
“It’s always great to come home to Kelly/Shorts (Stadium),” senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff said. “We’ll be home for a month now, so it’s just great to get in front of the home crowd and hopefully give them something to cheer about.”
Radcliff will be looking for redemption against Navy after the Midshipmen edged the Chippewas 38-37 in 2010.
CMU scored with four seconds remaining and opted to go for the two–point conversion and the win. The attempt failed, and Navy held on for the victory.
This year, the Chippewa defense will face a similar Navy option offense in which it runs the ball nearly 70 percent of the time.
“The biggest challenge is the short amount of time you have to prepare for it, because you don’t see it every week, and you don’t practice against it every day,” Enos said. “And they do it very fast, and they do it very well.”
The Midshipmen (2-3) have three players with more than 250 rushing yards this season. Junior quarterback Trey Miller leads the team with 291, though he will not be taking the snaps for Navy tonight.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds will get his first collegiate start against CMU while Miller recovers from an ankle injury he sustained last week against Air Force.
Reynolds came into the game Saturday for the injured starter. He completed all three of his passes and rushed for 22 yards and a touchdown, leading the Midshipmen to a 28-21 overtime victory.
“The challenge is just to stay on your guy, because they have guys going everywhere,” senior defensive back Lorenzo White said. “We have to be fundamentally sound.”
Despite Navy favoring the run, Enos said his defensive backs must be wary of the pass.
“They will lull you to sleep,” he said. “Not just an option team but any team that really runs the football well, they can lull you to sleep and then use their play-action game to get you.”
Navy has five players with 30 or more tackles, led by senior linebacker Brye French with 36.
“They’re a 3-4 defense that does different things out of their defense that we don’t see a lot,” Enos said. “So, not only are we playing a football team that is well–coached, with guys that play with great effort, you’re also challenged with those different schemes as well.”
Today is Military Day at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, with the game being televised on ESPN 2.
“That’s the thing about playing a game like this; you look across the field and all these young people have signed up to defend … us,” Enos said. “And we respect them so much for that. It’s just going to be an honor to have them here.”
CMU offensive tackle Jake Olson, wide receiver Jerry Harris and defensive end Alex Smith were all held off the depth chart this week and aren’t expected to take the field due to various injuries.