CMU football overcomes struggles in win against Buffalo

Players high five each other after scoring during a game against Buffalo, Wednesday, Nov. 9 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Injuries, adjustments and deficits are just some of the hurdles Central Michigan football faced as it upset the Buffalo Bulls 37-21 on Wednesday. 

The Chippewas found themselves trailing 24-7, but after refocusing in the locker room they found a spark to change the momentum of the game. 

QB rotation down to two 

For the past few weeks, CMU has implemented a quarterback rotation of sophomore Daniel Richardson, redshirt freshman Jase Bauer and freshman Bert Emanuel Jr. 

This week the rotation looked a little different as one of the members battled injuries. 

Bauer was dressed but didn't see action due to broken ribs suffered against Northern Illinois.

“I didn't feel like that was the right thing to do, to get him back out there," said head coach Jim McElwain. "But you know, I'm just I'm proud of all of them."

McElwain didn't disclose whether or not the rotation would be back to three players when CMU welcomes Western Michigan to Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Rise of the freshman 

Emanuel saw his first snaps as a quarterback in the maroon and gold last week against the Huskies. 

However, he broke out against Buffalo proving he could produce on limited snaps. Emanuel ended with 293 rushing yards, the most by a CMU quarterback and the fourth-most ever recorded by a Chippewa. 

However, fans were waiting to see if the quarterback's arm is as good as his run game.

“Like they (coaches) told me to just go out there be a playmaker and make sure I know my stuff,” Emanuel said. “I was studying plays all week long, watching a film, putting in extra work but they really just told me just go out there and be a playmaker.”

His first career pass was to redshirt freshman tight end Cade Conley for 22 yards, who attempted to stretch over the goal line but Conley was ruled down at the Buffalo one-yard line. 

Emanuel finished 1-for-3 through the air.

Missing Lew 

As kick-off inched closer and closer, the Chippewas took the field for warmups. However, there was a key part of the offense missing. 

Sophomore running back Lew Nichols was once again observing from the sidelines in his street clothes. Last week Nichols returned for the first time in two weeks as everyone hoped the weekly unknown of if Nichols was going to play was gone. 

Redshirt freshman running back Christian Brown started for CMU.

Defensive Struggles 

For weeks the defense has been keeping the Chippewas in games. But against the Bulls, the strong defense that has been so solid started to slip up. 

The Bulls' offense produced 204 rushing yards in the first half alongside 106 passing yards. 

At half-time, the defense needed sure running lanes to bring the Chippewas back into the game. 

They showed up for the challenge and held the Bulls' run game to just 36 rushing yards in the second half. 

As the CMU defense got back into a groove,  sophomore safety Trey Jones broke through in the second half, recording a career-high 16 tackles. 

“You know, in the second half, it did kind of feel like I was flying around more, being more aggressive and just pulling the trigger and just going,” Jones said. “I think that just comes with me not thinking a lot because I do have that problem with thinking too much sometimes. So, in the second half, I let loose and just played ball…” 

Senior defensive end Thomas Incoom ended with career-high 13 total tackles as well as three tackles for loss, and a sack.

“For the defensive side, we just preached on you know, tackling…missing tackles,” Incoom said. “That was a big problem we had going into the second half. So, we just went in and made an adjustment and came back everybody was just flying around just, you know finishing plays.”

CMU welcomes Western Michigan to Kelly/Shorts on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.