Dan Enos waited until the week of Central Michigan’s season opener to complete his secondary, but the unit ended up coming out of the blowout loss against Michigan as one of the positives.
The collective group, made up primarily of sophomores and juniors – Avery Cunningham is the only senior among the group – accounted for three interceptions on Saturday, including two off the Wolverines’ scrappy starting quarterback Devin Gardner.
“I thought they played pretty well,” Enos said during the Mid-American Conference coaches’ teleconference earlier in the week. “We got a little pressure on the quarterback to create a little bit of that, too. Michigan’s a pretty good football team.”
Junior Jarret Chapman’s interception was the most high-profile, coming early in the first quarter and giving CMU a fighting chance early.
During Michigan’s first official drive, after the Wolverines returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, Gardner threw a pick on second-and-10 from the Wolverines’ 7-yard line, setting up a scoring opportunity for the Chippewas early. They eventually settled for a field goal.
The second quarter, with the game still relatively close – Michigan led 21-3 and had stalled the CMU offense in Wolverines territory – junior Jason Wilson intercepted a long Gardner pass on first-and-10, returning it to the Michigan 29-yard-line. Wilson, who started in seven games at cornerback last season, tied Cunningham for a team-high eight tackles in the 59-9 loss.
But again, the Chippewas were forced to settle for a Ron Coluzzi field goal.
“We still have some work to do,” Wilson said in practice this week. “The final score tells it all. We played decent in some spots, but I think a lot of improvement has to be made.”
Specifically, Wilson pointed to several instances where CMU allowed Michigan to convert on third-and-long situations. The Wolverines were 10-of-15 on third-down conversions, four of which came from five yards out or more. Michigan threw for 221 yards.
“That’s what we have to do as a defense, is get turnovers,” Wilson said. “But at points we’ve got to get off the field on third-and-long. The gameplan stays the same. We’ve just got to keep working, get guys to the ball and create turnovers. Everybody as a whole just has to improve.”
Sophomore Kavon Frazier added an interception off Michigan backup Shane Morris in the fourth quarter. Frazier was among a large group of underclassmen to get in the game, including redshirt freshman Tony Annese and redshirt sophomore Stefon Armstead.
Contact Aaron McMann: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AaronMcMann.