COLUMN: What we learned from the first half of the season
1) Central Michigan will not be winning its division
I know the Chippewas have only played two Mid-American Conference games, but the West Division is already out of reach. Toledo (4-0) and Northern Illinois (3-0) both have a commanding lead, and it will be even tougher to catch up considering CMU already lost to both schools.
2) This team has great potential, but can also look lost
Head coach Dan Enos said it best after the Navy game: "This team is good enough to beat any team left on the schedule and good enough to lose to any team left."
That is absolutely true, partially because the remaining schedule is full of mediocre teams. But this team has also showed it can play up against good teams. Obviously, winning at Iowa City showed the potential, as did going into halftime at Toledo with the lead.
At that same point, this team has looked awful at times. The CMU offense against Navy was nowhere to be found the second half — when they actually had the ball. Quarterback Ryan Radcliff looked masterful against Iowa and then threw two interceptions for touchdowns against Toledo to seal the CMU's fate.
3) Titus Davis, Cody Wilson and the wide receivers are legit
Hopefully fans are enjoying the NFL talent at wide receiver this season.
Sophomore Titus Davis has found himself wide open several times after putting moves on safeties and corners for big gains. He has five touchdowns in the past four games and, take away a drop or two, and he might have had more.
Senior Cody Wilson consistently “moves those chains” for the CMU offense. He has had an incredible knack for finding the soft spot in the defense right past the first–down line for a reception.
Sophomores Deon Butler and Courtney Williams have shown the ability to make big catches and shake defenders after the catch. Radcliff has several lethal weapons at his disposal; he needs to take advantage of that.
4) The offense has pressure to score
This is a combination of the defense struggling with young players and just the state of the MAC with shootouts every week. The defense has allowed 39 points a game, and, while the Chippewas have faced the most explosive offenses on their schedule already, that is still a lot.
When offenses are putting up those points, it has to put pressure on the offense to score every possession. CMU will need to tally upwards of 30 or 40 points to be able to be successful the rest of the season.
The MAC is overrun with teams that can put up those big offensive numbers and weak defenses.
5) There are still plenty of goals within reach
Last year, at the midway part of the season, CMU lost to its rival Western Michigan and had a grim outlook to a bowl game with such a difficult remaining schedule.
This year, CMU still has a huge game against WMU and could win the Michigan MAC Trophy for best record against EMU and WMU. Ultimately though, a bowl berth could still happen.
CMU really needs to play consistently up to its potential – something they have not shown.
With Akron (1–6), Massachusetts (0–6) and EMU (0–6) still on the schedule, it is very promising. No game – especially with these Chippewas – should be counted as a win, but those are three extremely winnable games.
Beating the three six–loss teams and one solid team would make CMU bowl–eligible at six wins. Last year, two MAC teams finished 6-6 and both neither got an invitation.
WMU went 7-5 and went to the Little Caesars Bowl.
The Chippewas would need to finish 5–1 to do that — a tall task at this point.