Vosburg: three takeaways from week one


The 2021 season is officially underway for Central Michigan football.

Saturday’s game at Missouri was going to be a challenge before the season even started. Add in head coach Jim McElwain’s sudden appendicitis to the mix and the adversity level rose a few notches.

Despite a 34-24 loss to the Tigers, a lot of good came out of the game for the Chippewas. A few questions that everyone had entering the game were answered, and the mood after the loss was pleasantly optimistic.

Here are my three takeaways from Saturday’s season opener against the Tigers.

Good, but not great

The Chippewas lost the turnover battle, the penalty battle and appeared outmatched in the trenches in the fourth quarter. Despite all of the above CMU trailed by only three points in the fourth quarter.

Jacob Sirmon looked phenomenal out of the gate. Lew Nichols III moved like a gazelle. The defensive line looked like a daunting quartet for any team in the country to face. 

Unfortunately the success was not sustained for a full 60 minutes, and in all honesty that should not be expected in week one. We saw flashes of what this team could look like in October and November. By no means did we see this team as a finished product on Saturday, and I dare you to find a team in the Mid-American Conference that is.

CMU played a good game and individuals had good performances, but this team didn’t play great. But once everything comes together this team is not only going to be fun to watch, but a big problem in the MAC.

JaCorey in the house

When teams put a large emphasis on containing Kalil Pimpleton the Chippewas are left looking for their next receiving option. That option is senior JaCorey Sullivan, and he made a major statement on Saturday. 

The passing game in 2020 left a lot to be desired, and Sullivan’s 16 receptions for 176 yards and no touchdowns were disappointing. He set a personal goal to accumulate 1,200 receiving yards throughout the season and score one touchdown a game in 2021. His eight catches for 102 yards and pair of touchdowns made a statement, yet he still wasn’t fully satisfied.

If the Muskegon alum can continue to build on the already strong chemistry with Sirmon, well, the sky may be the limit not only for Sullivan, but for the Chippewa passing game as a whole.

“Sweet” Lew’s strong showing

The strength of CMU’s offense entering 2021 was going to be the two-headed monster of Nichols and Kobe Lewis. When Lewis went down with a non-contact knee injury in fall camp most fans didn’t know what to expect. 

Lewis’ injury is a big blow to CMU, I will never argue that fact, but it opened the door for Nichols to prove that he can be a primary back for the Chippewas. He finished with 135 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. 

There was a reason why Nichols was named MAC Freshman Offensive Player of the Year. He is a ferocious runner and may end up being the best running back in the MAC. Add Darius Bracy and Marion Lukes, CMU has a tremendous trio of ball carriers in 2021. 

As long as CMU’s offensive line can stay healthy and perform at a level they are capable of this may be the most balanced offense in the conference.