Every college football team receives a bye week during the regular season, but to have 17 days between games?
“That’s kind of unusual,” Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos said Monday during the Mid-American Conference coaches’ teleconference. “This whole schedule has been a little unusual this year, to be quite honest with you. We just play the cards we’re dealt. This is what the schedule they had out and we’ll most certainly do the best and make the most of it.”
After CMU’s 38-17 loss to Northern Illinois on Saturday, the Chippewas don’t play again until Wednesday, Nov. 6, a mid-week TV game on ESPN2 at Ball State. The team will only practice one day this week so the coaching staff can “evaluate what we’re doing,” hit the road and recruit and allow players banged up with injuries time to heal.
CMU (3-5, 2-2 MAC) will return to a regular practice schedule next week.
“Be diligent with our time, be efficient with our time, make sure we’re getting better technique and fundamental-wise,” Enos said. “But also schematically looking at what we’re doing, just continuing to make our football team better.”
Enos didn’t go into details, but shoring up a struggling defense will likely be top priority. After coming up huge in back-to-back wins over Miami and Ohio, No. 18 NIU (7-0)and quarterback Jordan Lynch had its way with the Chippewas’ defensive line, rushing for 437 yards and four touchdowns. Lynch’s 316 rushing yards, the most for a quarterback in Football Bowl Subdivision history, even earned him a special mention on ESPN Saturday night.
Enos, on the conference call, credited his offense’s ability to move the football in the first half, racing out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. But two second-quarter turnovers, one a fumble by senior receiver Jerry Harris after a catch inside the red zone, usurped any momentum and both teams entered the half tied at 14.
Then Lynch happened.
“Against good teams like Northern Illinois, you can’t do that,” Enos said of the turnovers. “I thought we played well for a while, but the game go away from us. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, they a very good, very physical team.”
After hosting the Huskies at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, the Chippewas hit the road for their next two games (at Ball State, Nov. 16 at Western Michigan) against teams on opposite ends of the league spectrum. Ball State (7-1, 4-0 MAC) has a real chance at competing for a MAC West crown while Western Michigan (0-8, 0-4 MAC) is having trouble keeping the boat afloat under first-year head coach P.J. Fleck.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Enos said. “I’ve learned that our guys are resilient, they work hard and they’re tough. There’s good character on this football team.
“When we execute and play well and do the things that we’re supposed to do, we’ve got a chance to be a pretty good football team. When we deviate from the plan, things can get away from us.”
Contact Aaron McMann: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AaronMcMann.