Football enters its Mid-American Conference slate this weekend and did not get a moment to catch its breath beforehand in an eventful start to the season.
The Chippewas endured injuries to key players, a shellacking by Michigan and a pair of comebacks in which they were on the winning side of and losing side of in two games.
“We’ve been unfortunate with the injury bug so far. We’re pretty banged up,” said head coach Dan Enos. “I told the team at the end of the (UNLV) game that you got a taste of your own medicine. You gave it to New Hampshire last week and it just happened to us.”
It was difficult for Enos to pinpoint one part of the team he can hang his hats on, but he did say the kicking game has been impressive with Ron Coluzzi knocking in all four field goal attempts and Richie Hogan averaging 45.4 yards per punt.
“We’ve done different things well at different times,” Enos said. “We haven’t played a whole game yet. I think that is one thing we are all frustrated about.”
Before two games Enos said the team played well for half of the game, the Chippewas were beaten up by the Wolverines and lost quarterback Cody Kater and running back Zurlon Tipton to injury in the first quarter of the season.
But CMU bounced back with a 24-21 win over New Hampshire and they found their starting quarterback. Freshman Cooper Rush, third on the depth chart at the start of the season, led them back from 13-0 to win it, 24-21, with 326 passing yards and three touchdowns
Roles were reversed in its third game at UNLV with the home team coming back from 21-0 to win, 31-21. The Chippewas run game, which is 11th in the MAC, failed to get going, tallying 3.5 yards per rush.
It was the first game without offensive lineman Jake Olson, who was injured against New Hampshire and ruled out for the season with a wrist injury.
It was not going to be easy to replace Eric Fisher, the NFL’s first pick in the draft, in anchoring the line, but he was as good as anybody do the job, being named preseason All-MAC first team by Phil Steele.
“I feel terrible for Jake,” Enos said. “He worked so hard to get back to where he was. It’s very unfortunate, but he’s an outstanding person, great young man.”
Senior captains Andy Phillips and Avery Cunningham said they are ready to move on from everything that has transpired and play Toledo, their second biggest rival according to Cunningham.
“All our goals are still on the table at this point,” Phillips said. “We got our first MAC game and we’re really excited to just get after it. What’s in the past is in the past.”
Cunningham added, “this is where the real season begins.”