McElwain looks to turn Oklahoma State loss into teaching moment

Head Coach Jim McElwain looks on at the video board during a review against FIU, Saturday, Sept. 25.

Every year as college football approaches excitement builds into a fever pitch, culminating in the first kickoff of the season. 

However, sometimes the electricity in stadiums during the first week of September can seep its way into the locker room and disrupt plans. 

As Central Michigan football stepped onto the field at Boone Pickens Stadium, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face No. 12 ranked Oklahoma State, head coach Jim McElwain said his players may have been too excited.

“I thought the guys were pretty amped up,” McElwain said. “That probably led to some of those penalties and yet credit them, they took advantage of it.”

In what was a 58-44 loss, the Chippewas were flagged seven times for 68 yards. 

Despite allowing the Cowboys to rattle off 30-unanswered-points, CMU climbed back in the fourth quarter to make things interesting in the final minutes.

"I'm proud of our guys," McElwain said. "I thought the speed of the game was something that always worries you in these first games, especially against quality opponents. And it showed up at times, and yet I thought we settled in pretty decently and did a few things."

However, during Oklahoma State’s run, McElwain’s concern was more with the health of ‘The Spirit Rider.’

“When they scored the 30 in a row, I probably was more worried about that damn horse cramping up that kept running around the endzone there,” McElwain said.

Learning Lesson

Even though the final result wasn’t what he hoped for, McElwain believes the loss helped show his players what it takes to be a Chippewa.

“Since we've been here and started to establish the program, there's a certain mentality that it takes to be a Chippewa and these guys have started to understand a little bit what that is,” McElwain said. “Credit the guys before them that have been in our program and in the system. It's cliche, but it's a ‘Never Say Die' deal. I’m proud of them. We will fight to the bitter end and that's who we are. And that's what we've established as a program.”

McElwain found multiple positives in the loss, but he said none will be more beneficial than what they put on film.

“As I said from the beginning, I really like our football team,” McElwain said. “We’re gonna win a lot of games. Those kids are gonna learn from this video, and we're gonna get a little bit better.

“This is gonna be a great film for us to watch because it's going to show what we're able to accomplish when we simply do our job.”

Calm under fire

While there were issues, quarterback Daniel Richardson finished the game with career-highs in passing yards and completions. 

Following a successful 2021 campaign, CMU lost receivers Kalil Pimpleton (NFL) and JaCorey Sullivan (graduation) and was expected to take a step backward offensively. However, Richardson takes exception to that.

“I can say this is probably one of the best receiving corps I've had in a long time,” Richardson said. “Overall, I thought all the receivers played great tonight. Just gotta get back on the drawing board. Our goal is 11-0 still.”

Richardson’s success on the day was only one area where he shined in the game. Down big, he inspired his teammates to mount a comeback.

“I told them don't put their heads down,” Richardson said. "We got a long season ahead of us. At the end of the day, our goal is a MAC Championship and we're gonna get that job done.”