Kelly/Shorts Stadium is no Big House.
At full capacity, Kelly/Shorts Stadium holds 30,255 fans, and even when Central Michigan is playing well, packed crowds, while often loud and raucous, are few and far between.
But CMU won’t be playing at the friendly confines of Kelly/Shorts for its season opener on Saturday. Instead, it’ll be playing at Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the United States, home to the No. 17 Michigan Wolverines, along with 109,901 screaming fans.
If the Chippewas hope to pull off an upset, preparation is needed. Lots of it.
Senior defensive back Avery Cunningham said the team has been preparing for the opener throughout the summer.
“During the offseason, we did a little bit of stuff for Michigan,” Cunningham said. “We have some extra time, because they are the season opener, but, at the same time, we don’t know what they are going to do. We try to watch what they did last year and anticipate what they are going to do this year.”
Last year, the team opened the season against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Southeast Missouri State at home. Needless to say, preparing to play the winningest program in college football history on the road requires a different form of preparation.
The Big House is known for being loud, and senior linebacker Shamari Benton said the team is preparing for the crowd noise during practices.
“We have our scouts blasting the crowd noise at practice,” Benton said. “It’s real loud at practice; the speakers are on full blast, trying to prepare us for the crowd that we will face on Saturday.”
To help fight against the noise, the team has been practicing hand signals.
“I can hear a little bit,” Benton said. “We have practiced hand signals and visuals to help everyone on the team stay on the same page.”
The team has been preparing for the season opener throughout the summer, but the team didn’t start practicing solely for Michigan until last Tuesday, head coach Dan Enos said.
“We go through and really game plan our first four opponents of the year,” Enos said. “We have done that offensively, defensively and special teams-wise in the summer. We do it very thoroughly, and then we go back and do it again based on the new information we get on our opponents before we play them.”