The football team has had a problem with turnovers all season, and the issue came to the forefront in last weekend’s Western Michigan game.
While many might want to put all the blame on redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush, there is plenty to go around.
Running backs – redshirt freshman Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore and senior Zurlon Tipton – each fumbled the ball in their own territory against the Broncos, leading to nine points.
“You put those guys in all sorts of practice situations that you can,” said head coach Dan Enos. “Fundamentally and technique-wise, we work on those things every day. It’s a lot different on game day. We’ve got to eliminate those things.”
Discounting the interceptions thrown, Central Michigan would still not be on top the Mid-American Conference in fewest turnovers given up since it has fumbled the ball nine times this year.
If you add Rush’s 14 interceptions and two by quarterback Alex Niznak, the Chippewas are tied for last in the MAC in giveaways with 25.
While Enos continued to brush off Rush’s three interceptions against the Broncos, the first year quarterback said he has to do better, though he is improving.
“I had to learn the hard way with a few things and I’m just making some bad decisions,” Rush said. “I think I’m getting a little better and I think we’ll improve and we’ll definitely get in better shape as far as turnovers.”
The strategy by the coaching staff has been to slowly work the quarterback into the game. He had two short passes on CMU’s first drive against WMU, which ended with a touchdown, to fullback Adam Fenton for 24 yards.
The first evidence of the quarterback testing the waters came about three minutes into the second quarter when Rush had an overthrow that was within the grasp of a Bronco.
In the second half, WMU made more of its opportunities. Rush threw eight times. Three of those throws were intercepted and another was dropped by the Broncos.
Rush’s first interception was the result of a tipped pass and then another came on the next offensive play because of defensive holding, according to Enos.
After his third interception, with about 10 minutes left in the game, CMU was willing to rely on the running backs and defense to hold onto a five-point lead without calling another pass play for the rest of the game.