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Not great, but gritty: Central Michigan shows mental resolve against Miami


andrew-ward-miami
Central Michigan linebacker Andrew Ward defends the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 21 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida (Courtesy of CMU Athletics)

It wasn’t a pretty game -- far from it -- but I sure had fun watching. 

Coming into the game, the Chippewas were 30.5-point road underdogs, so as the game progressed and the score stayed close, I kept thinking, “there’s no way CMU can pull this off… but what if?”

In the end, Central Michigan couldn’t pull off the big upset over the Miami (Florida) in Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 21, but the Chippewas definitely had the Hurricanes sweating bullets the entire game. 

Held to 301 yards and a mere 51 yards rushing, Miami struggled to get anything going against CMU in its 17-12 victory. The Chippewa defense was particularly lethal in the trenches, allowing only 1.5 yards per rush and forcing four sacks on the afternoon, including one for a safety.

The Hurricanes were a paltry 1-for-10 on third-down conversions in the game. 

"That was a great effort by our defense," junior defensive lineman Robi Stuart said. "We really prepared a lot for this week. We really looked inside ourselves and saw what we had to do."

Meanwhile, the offense strung together a number of promising drives and looked poised to score, but they were often foiled by a costly penalty or a turnover.

In total, the CMU offense managed only 248 yards and 31 rush yards, but it converted 21 first downs against Miami’s 16 and showed a lot of promise in pressure situations, going 2-for-2 on critical conversions on fourth down.

Junior quarterback David Moore’s stats weren’t particularly eye-popping either: 23-for-50, 217 yards passing, one interception. 

However, the stat line doesn’t always show the true performance of a player, and Moore’s play was much better than the statistics suggest. I was extremely impressed by his mental resolve throughout the game.

Moore was sacked four times for a loss of 37 yards and coughed up two fumbles in the loss, so there’s plenty for the quarterback to improve going forward. Although, looking back, I can’t help but think first of Moore’s clutch throws and his push at the goal line to score CMU’s lone touchdown with 3:16 to play.

I think Moore’s performance was a great representation of the Chippewas’ output as a team against the Hurricanes: not great, but gritty.

Senior kicker Ryan Tice missed a 54-yard field goal wide left midway through the third quarter, then nailed a 55-yarder for CMU only a few minutes later. 

Sophomore running back Kobe Lewis had 15 carries for 45 yards -- by no means an impressive statline -- but each of those yards was hard-fought and important.

True freshman defensive lineman Jacques Bristol was stifled by his Miami opponent on a good number of plays, but he broke through for a sack in the end zone that gave the Chippewas their first points of the game and later fell on the Hurricanes’ only fumble of the game.

Not great, but gritty.

Let’s not forget that CMU was up against a Power Five opponent that has made a bowl game in each of the past six seasons. A loss is a loss, yes, but there were an abundance of positives seen in the road loss to the Hurricanes.

The Chippewas look to marry grit with greatness as they move into the thick of conference play. 

"We all know we have greatness in us," Stuart said. "I think people saw a little bit of that. No such thing as perfection, but we're on our way and I'm really proud of what everyone did today."

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