Football finding consistency, young receivers adjusting

One word has circulated around Central Michigan football practice this week — consistency. 

After a 41-17 defeat at Syracuse last Saturday, head coach John Bonamego talked about a power point presentation he used to motivate his players going forward after practice on Tuesday. 

“I showed them a slide show with the McDonalds golden arches on one slide and a sign that says ‘Burgers, Fries and Laundry’ on the other,” Bonamego recalled. “You’re on a long trip, everyone is starving and your wife or girlfriend is telling you to pull over and get something at the next exit and you have those two options. Where are you going to go?

“More than likely, you’re going to go to McDonalds. Burger, Fries and Laundry might sound good, but more than likely you’re going to catch salmonella. The reason you go to McDonalds is because it is consistent. Wherever you go in the world, you know what you’re going to get. It’s the same way on the football field. Your best players are generally your most consistent performers.”

The Chippewas (2-1) open Mid-American Conference play this Saturday against Miami (Ohio) at Kelly/Shorts Stadium at 3:30 p.m. 

Young Receivers Adjusting 

Bonamego was not happy about inconsistent play from the CMU wide receivers last week. 

Senior Eric Cooper and sophomores Cameron Cole and Damon Terry got the majority of snaps at wide receiver due to the injuries to senior Corey Willis (hand) and sophomore Brandon Childress (ACL). 

The trio combined for seven catches for 122 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown by Cole in the first quarter. However, Cole had a pass go off his hands and returned for a pick-six in the second quarter, which flipped the momentum for the Orange. 

Other drops, missed blocks and wrong routes by the inexperienced receivers caused frustration for the Chippewas’ offense, which only totaled 382 total yards.  

Cooper, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, has sat behind the likes of Willis and senior Mark Chapman for most of his career and said he has learned a lot from the duo. 

Cooper said he, Terry and Cole have stayed after practice this week to work on fine-tuning their games to prepare for conference play. 

“You can’t worry about drops, missed blocks and all that,” Cooper said. “We just need to make up for that on the next play if anything goes wrong.

“I believe in the coaching staff and they believe in the players that they put in. I know I can make plays. My teammates know I can make plays. I just need to go out there and execute for them.”

Injury Update

Bonamego said the CMU medical staff is monitoring Willis’ broken hand week-by-week and still thinks he will be out at least a month. 

“The big thing with that injury is to make sure the bones don’t move,” Bonamego said. “As long as they are in place end-to-end and they are healing properly, then we are making progress.” 

The Chippewas have also been without senior tight end Tyler Conklin so far this season after he underwent surgery on his foot in early August. 

Defensive back Josh Cox said Conklin ran without pads during practice on Wednesday and his foot is progressing as predicted. The team is hopeful he can return towards the end of the season.