The Central Michigan football team recorded 10 sacks in as many games to start the season.
But in Saturday’s win over the Miami (OH) RedHawks, it had five. That pressure was huge in keeping Miami quarterback Zac Dysert, who came in second in the Mid-American Conference in total offense, off balance.
“We were able to get him off schedule a little bit,” head coach Dan Enos said.
The Chippewas got sacks from five different players, led by senior defensive end Caesar Rodriguez, who had two, the second resulted in a safety.
“In practice, we’ve been emphasizing getting pressure more,” Rodriguez said. “We stopped the run very well today.”
Rodriguez’s efforts got him named player of the game in his final game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, but, after the game, he gave most of the credit to his teammates.
“I only did what I did because of these guys,” he said. “If the defensive backs aren’t covering long enough, then I don’t have time to get to the quarterback. I owe it all to them.”
Getting pressure on the quarterback hasn’t been a strength for CMU this season. Before the game, they ranked 12 out of 13 teams in the MAC in sacks. The five-sack performance elevated the Chippewas to ninth.
Dan Enos said, after the game, he feels his team has been improving in that area.
“In the Western Michigan game, I think we had pressure,” Enos said. “We had some blitzes against Western, where guys didn’t time it out correctly. Today, guys blitzed on time and were able to be a factor. Even if they weren’t getting a sack, they were pushing the pocket back and making (Zac) Dysert move a bit.”
Enos attributed the improvement to several different areas, including the improvement of the secondary.
“Guys like Avery (Cunningham) and Jahleel (Addae) are learning how to blitz better and are doing it more often,” Enos said. “We’ve also gotten better on the defensive line. Guys like Blake Serpa, Leterrius Walton and Jabari Dean have made an impact. It’s been a variety of things, but, mainly, I just think our defense is getting better.”
The defense will look to continue getting pressure Friday when it takes on a Massachusetts offense that has given up the 12th most sacks in the MAC.