Football Preview: Chippewas Look To Rebound At Boston College

Sept. 29, 2017

2-2 1-3
Saturday, Sept. 30 | 1 p.m.
  Alumni Stadium | Chestnut Hill, Mass.
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 TV: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
Live Stats: SIDEARM
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Andy Sneddon,

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Football is like nature: It's survival of the fittest. Or, perhaps more succinctly, survival of the most adaptable.

The defense gives you something, you'd better take. Star player for the other team is out? Exploit his inexperienced and, presumably, less-talented replacement.

And at the end of the day, it's about producing; excuses are a waste of time.

Central Michigan goes to Boston College on Saturday (1 p.m.) for a nonconference game at the Eagles' Alumni Stadium (ESPN3/WUPS-FM 98.5).

The Chippewas are 2-2 after a 31-14 loss, their second straight, last week to Miami (Ohio) in their Mid-American Conference opener. CMU could never overcome a slow start and a poor first half overall. The Chippewas trailed 28-14 at halftime.

"You can't be in the 99th percentile that makes excuses or looks to deflect blame," CMU coach John Bonamego said, "you have to be in that 1 percent of people that are able to shoulder the responsibility and come back and work on your game and improve the things that you can improve.

"That goes for everybody, starting with me. Ultimately, it's my responsibility for the way the team performs, so I have to do a better job."

In Boston College (1-3), the Chippewas will see a team that has struggled to score and to stop the run, albeit against a schedule that has included No. 2-ranked Clemnson, unbeaten Wake Forest, and Notre Dame. The Eagles' win came at Northern Illinois, 23-20, in their season opener.

The Eagles have surrendered nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, but just 177.5 per through the air. They are ranked 104th in total defense and 114th in total offense (of 129 teams) nationally.

Bonamego doesn't put much stock in numbers, however.

"They're a physical football team and they can run the football," he said. "They're very sound, physical and fast on defense. They've got some electricity in the kicking game. We're going to have to play a lot better than we did this past Saturday if we expect to win the football game."

Four games into the season, the Chippewas' new uptempo spread offense has produced. CMU is tied for 22nd nationally - and second in the MAC - with 306.3 passing yards per game. Quarterback Shane Morris ranks second in the MAC in total offense.

That has come with a patchwork receiving corps that has been decimated by injury. Tight end Tyler Conklin, who was on the Preseason Mackey Watch List, has not played in 2017 and isn't expected back on Saturday. Two starting wide receivers, Corey Willis and Brandon Childress, have not played since suffering injuries in the second game of the year at Kansas.

Logan Hessbrook, Conklin's replacement who had shown signs of high-end potential, is also out.

Fifteen Chippewas have caught passes this season. Senior wideout Mark Chapman leads the group with 24 receptions for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Another senior, Eric Cooper, has emerged as a threat. He had six catches for 81 yards and a TD last week against Miami.

"Anytime you take somebody off the field who has played a significant number of snaps, and played well, that's going to affect how the offense moves," Bonamego said. "Right now we're down a number of players. It may be cliché, but it's the only way I can allow myself to think is that we can't use that as a crutch or an excuse. We have to find ways to move the football and score points. That's our job as coaches. We've got to get players ready to go out and execute."

No. 21
Senior tight end Zach Crouch will wear No. 21 at Boston College. A different Chippewa wears the number in each game to honor the late Derrick Nash.

Back to the MAC
The Chippewas play at Ohio next Saturday (2 p.m.). The Bobcats are 3-1 overall and 1-0 MAC after opening league play with a 27-20 overtime win at Eastern Michigan last week. Ohio plays a nonleaguer at UMass on Saturday.

Moving up
Chippewa defensive end Joe Ostman, a senior, recorded two sacks last week against Miami, giving him 17 for his career. His next sack will tie him for fifth place in program history with Pat Brackett (1981-84).


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