Following a ‘tune-up’ game against Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 14th, the ‘Canes face off against the Chippewas — the first football matchup in history between the programs.
Faces New and Old
Similar to Miami, Central Michigan is also welcoming a new head coach in 2019. That coach is Jim McElwain — former head coach of Miami’s first opponent of the upcoming season, the Florida Gators. The programs have connections despite never meeting on the field until 2019, as Miami’s offensive coordinator Dan Enos was the head coach of the Chippewas from 2010 to 2014.
Just How Bad Was 2018?
The 2018 season was incredibly disappointing for Miami’s fans, players, coaches, and alumni. The same can be said for the Chippewas — posting a 1-win season. The ‘disappointment’ is obviously on different levels for the programs, but the only direction for Central Michigan to go is up, as the situation can’t get much worse.
McElwain offers hope for the Chippewas, as he brings a reputation of being somewhat of a program ‘rebuilder.’ McElwain will also be bringing most of his staff from Florida, which includes offensive coordinator and former NFL quarterback Charlie Frye, and defensive coordinator Robb Akey, former head coach of the Idaho Vandals.
Central Michigan’s AD, Michael Alford, is making a large investment in the program, constructing new facilities that will benefit McElwain and his staff on the recruiting trail. This ‘endorsement’ shows a commitment to getting better — a bright outlook for the Chippewas regardless of the on-field results.
Aside from ushering in a new coaching staff, the Chippewas are also tasked with retooling a roster that lost many of their 2018 contributors.
Here are 3 players in particular that they can build off of:
Jonathan Ward, an experienced senior running back. Ward had a productive 2017, rushing for over 1,200 yards. Unfortunately, injuries held him back in 2018, amounting just over 200 yards on the ground. He has fully-recovered for 2019, however, and his return will help Central Michigan’s offense find some daylight.
Kalil Pimpleton, a wide receiver transfer from Virginia Tech. Pimpleton stands at just 5’9, but has displayed elusive speed — making him a potential slot or jet sweep threat. Pimpleton impressed during spring camp, and it’s safe to assume that he’ll get plenty of looks.
Devonni Reed, an impressive sophomore defensive back. Reed was one of the only bright spots in 2018 for the Chippewas. Reed amounted 97 tackles a season ago and has a chance to grow his numbers, as many members of Central Michigan’s defense graduated. Reed will surely cause issues for offenses in 2019.
The ‘Canes will prove to be too talented and big for Central Michigan. However, the game experience should be valuable for the Chippewas, as their young players will learn where their level of playing needs to be at. That statement speaks for Central Michigan’s 2019 campaign as a whole — the results shouldn’t be the most important point. McElwain and his staff will most likely focus on development, then reaching a goal like a bowl game. We can expect them to win 5-7 games a year with the new staff — not excellent by any means, but far more respectful than their 1-11 record posted in 2018.