It’s no secret Dan Enos has preached a balanced offense since arriving at Central Michigan, and he made no bones about his team’s one-dimensional play in the second half last week against UNLV.
So he’s doing something about it.
In an effort to try and jump-start the running backs, Enos said Thursday during CMU’s Sideliners event that redshirt freshman tailback Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore will see some playing time on Saturday against Toledo (Noon, ESPN3). It would be the first time Shoemaker-Gilmore, listed at 5-foot-11 and 204 pounds, has played in live game action.
He is currently fourth on the depth chart at tailback, behind sophomore Saylor Lavallii, junior Anthony Garland and redshirt freshman Martez Walker.
“We’ve got to play two and three (backs),” Enos told Don Chiodo on the CMU Sports Network. “Anthony Garland is going to play this week, and then Maurice Shoemaker is going to play some this week too.
“(Maurice) hasn’t played this year. He had a tremendous week of practice and we’re going to get him on the field.”
The move comes after Enos said his offense became one dimensional in the second half of CMU’s 31-21 loss at UNLV last week.
By halftime, CMU had built a 21-7 lead on 273 yards of total offense, 181 yards by air and 92 on the ground. Two touchdowns came on short red-zone rushes by Lavallii, who rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries.
Additionally, Garland rushed twice in the first half for 12 yards — a 6-yard per-carry average. Walker rushed four times for nine yards.
The Chippewas’ rushing attack became non-existent in the second half, with Lavallii finishing the game with a team-high 65 yards, rushing for 19 yards on eight carries in the second half. Garland added one rush for 13 yards. Beyond that, they struggled to run the ball.
“I think it’s good for the tailback to come out and watch somebody else run,” Enos said. “I’ve coached running backs before and been around some good ones. It seems to me that when someone else is out there getting a 12-yard run the guy all of a sudden wants to get out there and get himself a 12-yard run too.
“The competition, the pushing, the ‘hey, that guy’s running hard and breaking tackles- If I want to continue to get my 15 to 20 carries, I need to do the same thing.’”
It won’t be easy, though. Toledo (1-2) enters Saturday’s game ranked third in the Mid-American Conference in rushing defense, holding opponents to 161.7 yards per game. The Rockets allowed 262 yards on the ground in their season opener at Florida, a game in which they lost 28-6, improved it against Missouri (172 yards) before limiting Eastern Washington to just 51 yards last Saturday.
“We’ve got to run the football,” Enos said of keys to Saturday’s game. “And when I say run the ball, it doesn’t mean we need 12-yard runs every time. It means we’re getting four, getting six or getting five. And then we get 15.
“Keeping people off balance and guessing what you’re going to do. You don’t let people tee off on the pass rush if you’re just throwing it and throwing it and throwing it. … When you have guys that are playing their gaps and playing the run, they’re at least conscious of it. It makes pass protection easier, which in turn makes throwing the ball easier.”
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