Here's a more in-depth look at Central Michigan, the Falcons' opponent Saturday, Oct. 30 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
OFFENSE: Gaining yards hasn’t been much of a struggle for the Chippewas, who rank second in the MAC in both passing yardage (282.5 yards/game) and total offense (399.1 yards/game). It hasn’t translated into points, though, as CMU ranks just sixth in points per game (23.1). Sophomore Ryan Radcliff has taken most of the snaps for Central Michigan and has completed 181-of-308 passes for 2,210 yards and 11 touchdowns but has thrown 14 interceptions. His favorite target has been sophomore WR Cody Wilson, who has caught 46 passes for 696 yards and three TDs. Senior WR Kito Poblah has 28 grabs for 377 yards and four scores, while sophomore WR Jerry Harris has 26 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Junior RB Paris Cotton is listed as probable for the game and leads the Chippewas with 514 yards rushing and six touchdowns; senior Carl Volny (246 yards rushing/3 TDs) is listed as the starter. Senior C Colin Miller, a second-team All-MAC choice last year, leads the offensive line.
DEFENSE: The Chippewas have ranked in the middle of the MAC pack on defense, standing eighth in rushing defense (159.6 yards/game), fifth in passing defense (203.0 yards/game), seventh in total defense (362.6 yards/game) and fifth in scoring defense (24.1 points/game). The biggest name on the defense is senior MLB Nick Bellore, an All-MAC first team choice last season who ranks second on the team this season with 63 tackles. WLB Matt Berning, also a senior, leads the team with 72 stops, including 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. The Chippewas are thin along the defensive line, a group led by senior DT Sean Murnane, a third-team All-MAC choice last season who has just 20 tackles this year. The defensive backfield, which has only two interceptions in eight games this season, is led by sophomore safety Jahleel Addae, who has made 60 tackles; senior cornerback Vince Agnew, who has 41 stops; and senior Bobby Seay, who has 29 tackles. The fourth member of the defensive backfield is Avery Cunningham, a true freshman with 24 tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Chippewas have used three field-goal kickers this season. True freshman Paul Mudgett started the season but was 1-for-5 on field goals before he was replaced by redshirt freshman David Harman, who has made 5-of-6 field goals – with a long of 41 – but had three of his 14 PAT kicks blocked. Redshirt freshman Richie Hogan did the kicking at Virginia Tech but missed all three field goals he tried. … Senior Brett Hartmann kicks off and has produced 11 touchbacks on 36 kickoffs; CMU leads the MAC in kickoff coverage, with opponents usually starting on their own 34. … Hartmann also does the punting for the Chippewas and averages 40.8 yards per kick; Central Michigan ranks next-to-last in the MAC in net punting (32.7 yards per kick). … CMU has had nine different players return a kick this season; Poblah (18.3 yards per return) and sophomore Valtorrey Showers (22.0 yards/return) are the most likely to do so Saturday. … Wilson has returned 14 punts for Central Michigan and averaged 7.1 yards per return.
BG KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. The offense needs to possess the ball. The defensive line for the Chippewas is thin, so generating a running game will be important. But a short, safe passing game against a defense with just two interceptions can help BG control the ball as well. 2. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Central Michigan ranks last in the MAC in turnover margin, having forced just 11 turnovers while commiting 21. And while it may seem greedy, a few long returns of those turnovers would be a pleasant bonus. 3. Special teams must step forward. BG’s special teams continued to struggle last week, excluding Boo Boo Gates’ kickoff return. Solid blocking is a must. This unit doesn’t have to win the game alone, but it needs to help BG win the field position game.