Monday, August 28, 2006

Guest Blogger: The CMU Weblog

It's game time (almost). It's game week anyway. So I enlisted the help of a CMU blogger to get some insight before our kickoff Thursday. Tony gamely answered my queries below. Go to The Central Michigan University Weblog before and after the game to read about CMU sports.

1. Is your QB picture as uncertain as it appears. Will the starter for the BC game be on a short leash?

As of right now the starter is Brian Brunner. This late into camp and with opening night just over a week away it seems as if he will start the BC game. However a few days ago Coach Brian Kelly said he has not closed the gap and locked up the starting job like he had hoped for. Dan LeFevour, a red shirt freshman seems to be the next closest QB competing for the starting job. Central overall has a nice talented crop of QB's, but Brunner is by far the most knowledgeable of the system. He has, however, only taken 3 snaps in his college career, and still hasn't really shown how to properly execute in the scrimmages CMU has had. LeFevour is much more athletic, and has shown a lot in practice/scrimmage. This all leads me to believe that Brunner will start against BC, but he will most certainly be on a short leash. If he falters early against BC...making interceptions, fumbling the ball, or just making plain bad throws, don't be surprised to see another QB quickly step in. Coach Kelly has also made this fact known...he is not ruling out using numerous QB's in this game. Sean Price is very athletic and fast, as well as Duane Brooks, both viable options. How the QB or QB's play in the BC game will determine whether Central can even keep it close.

2. Last season CMU struggled against passing attacks. Have any adjustments been made to improve things?

Well over half of Brian Kelly's recruiting class was DB's. He wants them faster, more athletic, and a little taller. That will pay off in the future, but most likely not early on this year. Both starting CB's are gone from last year, and the starting Strong Safety Marlin Maxwell can not play due to eligibility problems. Senior Pacino Horne was a safety last season but has moved to CB as a starter on one side. The other probable starter according to Kelly is redshirt freshman Josh Gordy (5-11, 189). 5-6, 181, Terrance Robinson is a veteran QB on the team, but he will compete with some freshman recruits for playing time. Junior Curtis Cutts (6-0, 210) is replacing Horne at Free Safety. The other Safety spot could go to one of the newly recruited freshman from Florida or to redshirt freshman Aaron Carr or Calvin Hissong, a former receiver. Basically you see the DB's are completely revamped from last year. The inexperience will no doubt cost CMU at times this season, but overall Coach Kelly is very excited about their athletic ability. It all comes down to how fast they can learn from their mistakes. It might be ugly in the beginning, but there is certainly upside. BC, I am sure, will be ready to exploit CMU through the passing game, and if I was coach, that would be my number one strategy. I would be shocked if BC's receiving core didn't hurt the inexperienced DB's in this highly pressurized game for them; it's tough to play a new position with that much pressure, and against a great team off the bat and be successful. I look for the pass defense to be the worst in the MAC most of the season, with good improvement down the home stretch.

3. Dan Bazuin will be the focus of our protection. Is there anyone else on the defensive side BC should key on?

I think Thomas Keith, who was a sophomore last year is absolutely awesome. He was named second team all MAC after leading CMU in tackles with 104, and interceptions, with four. He was top six in tackles in the entire Mid-American Conference. The rest of the linebacking group is very solid with Issac Brown and Doug Kress, very solid, physical players. I do believe Keith was very underrated nationally last year, and is a great player...he should prove that even more this season for CMU with all the expectations placed on this team locally. Bazuin is the best for sure, and you better plan your strategy around him, but the whole Defensive Line in general is very solid -- this wasn't the number one rated run defense in the MAC last year for nothing. If CMU can stop BC's running game, and not have to bring another man up to defend the run, and emphasize more on shutting down BCs passing game -- that's the scenario where CMU has a chance to pull the upset.

4. If BC shuts down your run game, I think we romp. However, if you guys can move the chains and control the clock, it could be interesting. What is your prediction and final score?

As much as it pains me to admit it, and make no mistake, I do believe CMU has a chance, I think BC will win. Lately a lot of the press around here has been concerning when it comes to the QB and RB positions. Kelly is not happy that Brunner "didn't take the job and run with it" and he also is not happy with starting RB Ontario Sneed, who had an unbelievable freshman season last year. Kelly has criticized him for being tentative when running during practices and scrimmages. He even went as far to imply that Ontario wasn't the for sure number one starter at this point. If he doesn't pick it up in practice and has a slow start in the BC game, look for CMU to turn to a 3 RB system, which isn't very deep with all freshman. My main concern however is the pass defense and our pass offense. I believe that will be the difference. Brunner is starting the first game of his college career against a perennial top 25 team on national tv -- that is the epitome of pressure. I think he will struggle and Kelly will go onto shuffling QB's, which in no way is good for the cohesion of an offense. The young/inexperienced DB's will give up some easy pass plays and points as well. I can't predict how rookies will play, or how inexperienced players will play so this is tough. If they play like they've played forever CMU no doubt can pull an upset in front of a fired up crowd. However, I will go off past experience and knowledge of football and say they have a tough time due to the lack of pressure situations. Final Score: BC 38 CMU 17

Thanks to Tony and be sure to check out his blog.



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