COLUMN: Spring football game is start of crucial season


Spring is beginning to show her warming face in Mount Pleasant and every other college town around the nation.

And for us college football obsessives, the season has already begun. Most Division I football programs hold an April annual spring game.

Central Michigan hosts its maroon vs. gold scrimmage on Saturday, signifying the beginning of a crucial year for the Chippewas.

Here are a few storylines surrounding the 2014 season in its infancy.

Is Rush Ready?: Every team needs a leader, whether they be vocal, or lead by example. For football, the leader is supposed to play quarterback.

Sophomore Cooper Rush – who started the majority of last year’s games at QB for CMU – scarcely felt like a true leader. Give the kid credit for hanging tough through inheriting a mess on the offensive side of the ball, but turning the ball over three times a game is not the quickest path to offensive leadership, partially due to his age and lack of experience. That tendency needs to change if he is going to lead this team.

Too many tailbacks: Zurlon Tipton, the epitome of what a CMU running back should be in recent years, has graduated.

Saylor Lavallii, who fans consider the best available option at tailback this spring, has impressive speed and unique vision, but might not fit head coach Dan Enos’ system perfectly. That was obvious on more than one occasion last fall.

Do not be surprised to see graduate-transfer student and former Michigan Wolverine Thomas Rawls getting a good number of touches this fall.  Rawls openly admitted he felt slighted on playing time at Michigan. A guy with that much running power and that much of point to prove can be dangerous.

That dreaded “A” word: Attendance. The CMU football program has been in the news lately for its dwindling home attendance figures in recent years, a trend plaguing the Mid-American Conference.

With home games against Syracuse and Western Michigan this year, the program will likely have little issue reaching the required 15,000 in consecutive seasons and should remain comfortable in Division I standing.

Still, it will be interesting to see how much free pizza and how many kiss-cam appearances the department will use to bring students to Kelly/Shorts Stadium this season. A winning record wouldn’t hurt, either.

Do or die for Dan: No CMU sports storyline has been more heavily discussed this year than the job security of head coach Dan Enos. It festered so badly after a 1-4 start last season, that fans took to message boards and social media calling for the coach’s head. Enos responded by leading CMU to victory in its final three games of the season, silencing the critics for the time being.

But the same vultures lurk quietly as Enos prepares his squad for perhaps the most crucial season of his CMU career. Finishing below .500 in 2014 might be the final straw for Enos.

Scheduled Success: The 2014 schedule is mostly favorable. With every game (except one) on a Saturday, including a regular-season finalé clash with rival WMU, CMU has set itself up for MAC title contention.

The last and most important element leading to that championship run is fielding a competitive team. That process has already begun, and we will get our first sneak-peak this weekend.

This weekend's spring game kicks off the most-crucial of campaigns and sets the tone for an important autumn.



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