Great Expectations: CMU football ready to make a splash by taking MAC in 2014
CMU football ready to make a splash by taking MAC in 2014
With a powerhouse defense, aggressive new blood and a pool of talented returners, key leaders on the Central Michigan University football team are making their expectations for themselves and their teammates perfectly clear.
“We’re going to win the MAC Championship,” senior defensive lineman Leterrius Walton told reporters during Mid-American Conference Football Media Day. “Our group of seniors has been waiting for this moment their whole careers. The time for greatness is now.”
Some MAC football experts are calling the 2014 Chippewas defense the best Enos has assembled.
“It could be the best unit we’ve had,” Enos said. “We’ve been very impressed with some of our strength and conditioning on that side of the ball. We feel like we can get some penetration up front and be ready on the back end on a regular basis.”
Walton is regarded by several college football experts as the Chippewas largest asset and most skilled player on defense, in 2014. He will join linebacker Justin Cherocci and safety Kavon Frazier as they collectively protect the goal line at each end of Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Cherocci led the conference in tackles last year with 121 and earned All-Mac honors with ease. Frazier burst onto the CMU football scene with seven tackles in CMU’s 2013 season opener in Ann Arbor.
“This year we can already tell we have a focused and intense group of guys that are ready for this opportunity,” Cherocci said.
Sophomore quarterback Cooper Rush started the majority of CMU’s 2013 games after starter Cody Kater went down with injury in the Chippewas season-opener at the University of Michigan and backup Alex Niznak was benched.
Rush impressed fans during CMU’s Spring Game in April, passing for 232 yards and two scores – good enough for the starting job heading into camp.
“It feels a little bit different, but the preparation is always the same,” Rush said. “It feels good to get things going again. It’s pretty exciting.”
Last season, Rush threw for 15 touchdowns on 2,349 yards in 11 games. More than half of those yards were to arguably the best receiver in the MAC: Senior receiver Titus Davis.
Davis caught eight touchdowns and averaged more than 18 yards per catch in 2013, setting the stage for what he said he is determined to make a special year for the Chippewas offense.
“This season we will see what we are made of,” Davis said. “Since I’ve been here there has been a lot of pressure on me to do well. I like that. I can’t play any other way. My leadership skills have really improved and I look forward to helping some of the other guys.”
The Chippewas return 91 starts on the offensive line, which is sure to provide extra protection for Rush and the rest of CMU’s backfield.
“That’s really huge,” Enos said. “I wish I could get all of our guys to think like offensive linemen. They are some of the most selfless players we have. Our big guys are an immense part of our success because of that.”
The Chippewas have an exciting non-conference schedule which will bring Syracuse to Mount Pleasant Sept. 13. CMU travels to West Lafayette Sept. 6 to take on Big Ten foe Purdue.
“Every team in college football has some uncertains heading into the season. That’s part of what makes it interesting,” Enos said. “We look at who we have this year as a challenge, but one that we can handle if we do things the right way. We always take things one game at a time.”
Kickoff against UTC is at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Admission is free with a CMU Student ID.