Takeaways from CMU football's 2018 Spring Game

The CMU football team plays in the spring game on April 21 in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

On a bright sunny day in Mount Pleasant, the 2018 Central Michigan football team took the field for the first time at the annual Spring Game in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Team Maroon defeated Team White, 29-22, on April 21 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Team Maroon was the offense and Team White was the defense. 

Here are some takeaways from today’s scrimmage:

New energy

In the upcoming season, CMU will play all home games on Saturdays. Head coach John Bonamego said the Spring Game crowd could be a preview of what’s to come in the fall.

“I just want to first off thank everyone who made it out today, shoot it’s probably more than some of our mid-week crowds,” Bonamego said. ”Hopefully it is a sign of things to come, it was just a great day overall.”

Senior linebacker Alex Briones felt a different energy in the stadium compared to past years.

“The Spring Game was more alive this year than ever before,” said senior linebacker Alex Briones. “I could hear the fans and all the music playing. We had terrible weather over the past couple of weeks, so it was nice get out and get some sun.”

Old faces

The Chippewas' Spring Game had a few former CMU stars in attendance. Current Dallas Cowboy Cooper Rush, Shane Morris, Corey Willis, Mark Chapman, Tyler Conklin and current Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown were all down on the field for the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown takes a picture with former Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris on April 21 at CMU's Spring Game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

“It’s a little different now but it’s still a positive sight to see everyone here supporting the guys,” Brown said. “We are trying to get it back to a championship culture and bring a Mid-American Conference title back home.”

This was Morris' first CMU Spring Game Experience. 

“I wasn't here yet last year, I would've loved to be here in the spring but it didn't work out with my school schedule (at Michigan),” Morris said. “It’s great to be back around such a good atmosphere.”

Game-like experience

Essentially, the Spring Game was played as a scrimmage between the offense and defense. 

The offensive point system was the same as a normal game, with a touchdown counting as six, a field goal as three and a point-after attempt as one.

On defense, a stop was two points, a three and out was three points, a fourth down stop was four points, a turnover or blocked kick was worth six points, a safety was five points and a touchdown was eight points. 

“I think it is a step in our progression, it’s not exactly like a game but you try to make it as game-like as you possibly can,” Bonamego said. “They are out here communicating and working hard, days like today are really big in the process of them working as a unit.”

Senior defensive end Mitch Stanitzek said they always try to get in the mindset like it is a game.

“Wearing the jersey’s and having pregame routines makes it feel pretty similar,” Stanitzek said. “Obviously were going against our own guys but we are tackling and playing live so its similar.”

Quarterback update 

Bonamego confirmed sophomore quarterback Tony Poljan is leading the quarterback battle. Right behind him is senior Tommy Lazzaro.

“(Poljan) has a lot of upside in a lot of different areas and he’s a big strong kid who is really passionate about the game,” Bonamego said. “I don’t want to slight Tommy Lazzaro because he has a great work ethic as well and is giving it a lot of effort. Tommy is very competitive as well.”

Last season, Poljan played in all 12 games with time at quarterback and wide receiver. At quarterback, he completed 10-of-17 passes for 61 yards and rushed for 110 on 23 attempts.