November 9, 2012

Five Keys: CMU vs. EMU

What was an opportunity to right the ship and string together two straight victories quickly turned into disappointment. Western Michigan rattled off 28 fourth quarter points and earned only their third victory over CMU at Kelly/Shorts Stadium since 1973. To Chippewa fans, the 41-32 loss to the Broncos was an all too familiar sight as thoughts of a winning season went out the window. Sitting a 3-6 overall, CMU controls their own destiny over the final three weeks, but whether they finish 6-6 or 3-9, it is clear there is still work to be done.

Today we take a look at the Five Keys for the Chippewas upcoming battle vs. Eastern Michigan.

1) Thorn in the Side

If there has been one program that has consistently been the proverbial thorn in the side for CMU, it's the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. No matter what their record coming in, or their ineffectiveness against other teams, EMU always manages to play their best against CMU. Since 2000, the series is knotted at 6-6, and the games always seem to be close and high scoring. While Ypsilanti will never be known as a hostile environment due to the crowd, it is enemy territory for the Chippewas. And who can forget the great moments in Rynearson history such as the Jeff Genyk administered brawl in 2008 or the 24-17 Brian Brunner led comeback in 2006?

With the way the 2012 season is going for CMU, this game vs. Eastern is either going to be a great chance to take out some aggression, or the perfect cherry on top of a disappointing season. It will be up to CMU to make that choice.

2) Let the Eagles Fly

That may seem like an odd key, but if EMU is taking to the air on offense, it will likely mean they are either down by a lot of points, or have had their run game neutralized. For those who do not remember, EMU ran for 350 yards and 5 TD's last year at Kelly/Shorts in a 35-28 Eagles win. They averaged 7.0 yards per carry, and basically ran up and down the field all day. While CMU's rush defense is giving up 214 yards per game, they have improved over the past few weeks. Lost amid the Eagles poor 2012 season is some pretty stellar play out of sophomore RB Bronson Hill, who is averaging 7.2 YPC and is their best offensive weapon. If they can limit the Eagles rushing attack and make first year quarterback Tyler Benz win the game with his arm, they will have a reason to smile after the game other than just leaving Ypsilanti.

3) Running of the...Chippewas?

If the CMU run defense has been frustrating for fans to watch, Eagles fans are probably picking up remnants of their smashed TV's. EMU gives up an astronomical 302.4 yards per game on the ground. Know where that ranks in the NCAA? Dead last. 120 out of 120 teams in the country. And the next closest is Miami (FL) at 246.2 yards per game. That is a difference of almost 40 yards…so to say the EMU run defense is bad might be an understatement. With an experienced O-line, running backs Zurlon Tipton, Saylor Lavallii and Tim Phillips should have huge days.

4) The Best Defense is a Good Offense

More often than not, that term is reversed. But with CMU's consistent (Consistent = Struggling 9 Weeks Straight) lack of defense, the best formula is to light up the scoreboard on offense. And the more CMU is on offense, the less time their defense is the field. It's the reality of the 2012 Central Michigan football team. If the offense can put up 40+ points, CMU will be in good shape. But that is a tall order for any offense east of Eugene, Oregon.

5) Win At All Costs

If there has ever been a game CMU head coach Dan Enos needed more than this one, it hasn't happened yet. Where a loss to Western Michigan last week was devastating, a follow-up loss to Eastern Michigan would be program shattering. EMU is a team that CMU should beat, and if the program is going to hang onto any thread of a successful season, then they will need to leave Ypsilanti with a victory. If that means onside kicks, two point conversions, throwing the ball 80 times (See: 2008 EMU/CMU game) or secretly putting Nick Bellore, Josh Gordy and Frank Zombo in uniforms, than do it.

Win or loss, this is a program defining moment for the 2012 season.

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