CMU, Rhode Island game will feature battle of the quarterbacks

Senior quarterback Shane Morris speaks to media on Aug. 28 in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Fans might be able to see more than one quarterback battle for the starting job when Central Michigan football hosts Rhode Island on Thursday.

The Chippewas, who finished with a 6-7 record in 2016, look to start the season off right at 7 p.m. at Kelly/Shorts Stadium against Rhode Island, which went 2-9 last season.   

"We couldn't be more excited to finally start playing games," head coach John Bonamego said. "We're excited to start the season off at home in front of our fans, and I hope as many people show up as possible because we are looking to put on a good showing and get started fast."     

During Thursday's game, fans will see something different from the Chippewas, said wide receiver Corey Willis.

"Everything as far as the way we are coming out and the energy in the stadium is going to be different," Willis said. "We are going to be fast and you guys better be ready."

CMU's changes feature new offensive coordinator Chris Ostrowsky's spread offense and two new quarterbacks to keep an eye on.   

At CMU Football Media Day on Aug. 20, Bonamego said both quarterbacks graduate transfer Shane Morris and redshirt freshman Tony Poljan will play in Thursday night's game. From there, Bonamego has the option to either choose a starter, or continue using both quarterbacks.   

Rhode Island is in a similar situation with its quarterback position. Tyler Harris and JaJuan Lawson who transferred from UCF and New Mexico, respectively, are competing for snaps.

According to the Rams' website, Harris is expected to start, but Lawson will also see some playing time.    

Led by fourth year head coach Jim Fleming, Rhode Island participates in the Colonial Athletic Association.    

Rhode Island's most recent game against a Mid-American Conference team was a 48-8 loss to Bowling Green in 2012. The Rams have not won a season-opener since 2009.    

"They're a good team. They played a lot of young players (last season). They'll certainly reap the benefits of that this year,” Bonamego said.   

Senior running back Herald Cooper leads the Rams' offense. Cooper ranks ninth in all-time Rams' history with 3,430 all-purpose yards.    

CMU won last year's season opener against Presbyterian, 49-3.  

After dropping a 55-10 decision in the Miami Beach Bowl last season against Tulsa, the Chippewas look to get back on the right track at home with only have five games at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in 2017.   

"It's everything (to open at Kelly/Shorts Stadium)," Bonamego said. "A part of the traditions the atmosphere on game day at Kelly/Shorts. We need to make the best of each opportunity and capitalize on each opportunity to play in front of our fans at home."