Three Takeaways from CMU's 49-21 loss to LSU

Central Michigan quarterback Jacob Sirmon runs away from LSU defender Jaquelin Roy during the Chippewas' 49-21 loss to the Tigers Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This was a game that a lot of Central Michigan football fans looked forward to in 2021 -- a matchup against LSU, the 2019 national champions. 

CMU had its second Southeastern Conference matchup in three weeks and stayed pace with Missouri in a 34-24 week one loss. Saturday’s game with LSU would fare differently, a 49-21 loss.

Despite the loss, I have three takeaways from the 28-point loss.

Early deficit proved lethal

When a team plays in an environment that Tiger Stadium possesses, matching every move and not losing any momentum becomes essential. LSU opened the game with a touchdown on its first possession, the Chippewas needed points immediately.

A harmless pass from Jacob Sirmon to Darius Bracy was completed, but Derek Stingley Jr. not only sent Bracy flying with a low tackle, but popped the ball free to set up a scoop-and-score touchdown for LSU. The Tigers pounced three more times in the opening 30 minutes and were one blown coverage away from a 35-0 lead at the half.

I believe that you can’t win a game in the first quarter, but you can lose it, and that’s exactly what happened to CMU on Saturday. The Tigers were in desperation mode, and although they struggled to run the ball against the Chippewas they still put up 49 points with a strong aerial attack that accounted for 400 of the teams 484 yards.

Young guns take a step

The SEC Network broadcast team noted that CMU head coach Jim McElwain said that his decision to send the 2020 freshman class home was the biggest mistake of his coaching career. The Chippewas now boast 71 true or redshirt freshmen on their roster.

Some of those young pieces are starting to contribute in 2021.

Defensive back Donte Kent proved he’s earned every snap he played on Saturday. Kyle Moretti flew around the field and helped hold LSU to 84 net rushing yards. Marion Lukes, De’Javion Stepney and Myles Bailey look capable of replacing the touches of Bracy and Kobe Lewis.

McElwain said before the season started that he likes the team's pieces, but they have to come together. If more freshmen rise to the occasion when their number is called the Chippewas will have invaluable depth that they sorely missed in 2020.

Offensive X-Factor revealed

It’s no secret that the Chippewas boast one of the best receiving corps and running backs in the Mid-American Conference. Kalil Pimpleton is the most electric player in the MAC, JaCorey Sullivan has meshed with Sirmon since day one and Dallas Dixon is an excellent red zone player. 

But, there’s a group that has gone under the radar the last two games. 

CMU’s play at tight end will become the X-Factor of this offense. Along with three consistent targets, CMU quarterbacks have begun targeting tight ends. Hunter Buczkowski and Josh Wilson have caught at least one touchdown in the last two games. 

Tackles/tight ends coach Tavita Thompson set the bar for the group this summer: no block, no ball. 

The Chippewas are averaging 172.3 yards a game after only netting 56 yards on Saturday, and the duo are integral parts of the running game. Now they’re contributing to the passing game, an area I felt this offense lacked in 2020. 

Tight end’s are football game breakers in 2021. The Chippewas may have found another element to their offense.