'Nothing's off the table': CMU to get creative in utilizing players all over the field
Darius Bracy was strictly an offensive player in high school. As a senior, he accounted for over 2,000 yards.
He didn't get snaps at cornerback until coming to Central Michigan, where he moved to the defensive side of the ball. He was serviceable in nine games last year, recording 24 tackles and breaking up three passes.
Now, with CMU dealing with a lighter roster due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a large class of graduated seniors, it sounds like Bracy may be returning to his roots. At least for a little bit.
On the Oct. 15 edition of "The Coach Mac Show," hosted by CMU play-by-play broadcaster Adam Jaksa, coach Jim McElwain and Bracy both said that the junior from Mobile, Alabama has been getting reps in the "wildcat" formation at quarterback.
Bracy said he learned of the news when McElwain announced that the team would be implementing crossover sessions in practice. When he saw his name listed with the quarterbacks, he showed no hesitation.
"For me, I ain't think nothing about it," Bracy said. "I'm just gonna go right over here and do what I've gotta do. I was happy, this is my time to shine."
Currently, the Chippewas have three quarterbacks competing for the starting role. While Bracy won't take the job from David Moore, Daniel Richardson or Ty Brock, he can provide a punch or element of surprise in certain situations.
For McElwain, Bracy isn't the only former high school quarterback at his disposal. Kalil Pimpleton, who played quarterback at Muskegon, also returns after being the top receiver in the Mid-American Conference last season.
After throwing two passes last season, including a 28-yard heave to Tyrone Scott against Akron, it appears as if there will be more in store for Pimpleton in 2020. Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye hinted at an expanded role for Pimpleton within the offense.
"We’ll use KP in any way we can," Frye said. "It’s our job to get him the ball, get him the football, whether it’s direct snap, whether we hand it to him, whether we throw it to him. You want to get your playmakers the ball in space, so however we can create matchups, however we can get him open."
The expansion of the offense signals a trend for the Chippewa offense. There are plenty of options around the field that can create big plays in a pinch. While none of these wildcard options are going to complete 20 passes, they may be able to create a big play that can help flip the momentum within a game.
Both Bracy and Pimpleton bring exciting factors to the offense, but there's still the question of who will take the field as the starter when the Chippewas open the season against Ohio. David Moore, Daniel Richardson and Ty Brock each have a case to take the job.
Brock perhaps is the most interesting element. Fans got to see Moore unleash his potential in four games last year and everyone knows about the buzz surrounding Richardson, yet the book is largely still out on Brock.
McElwain hinted in a recent conversation with reporters that Brock could have a similar effect on the offense to what Tommy Lazzaro brought last season.
"(Brock) is also able to do some things that the others can't do with his feet," McElwain said. "He gives us very unique options when he's in there."
There could be plenty of people lining up behind center in 2020 for CMU. Not all of them will be listed as quarterbacks on the roster. This shows that McElwain and his staff are joining the ongoing football evolution that places an emphasis on getting star players the ball in any way possible.
"As an offense, you want to get your guys the football, get them as many touches as you can," Frye said. "With the environment that’s in college football, that’s in the NFL, you’ve gotta be creative and you’ve gotta be flexible on whose gonna play, where they’re gonna play."