Preview 2017: Can Central Michigan Win The West?
With all the experience in place, Central Michigan has the talent and experience to be one of the MAC West favorites.
If nothing else, Central Michigan football hasn’t been boring.
From head coach John Bonamego being able to coach last season after dealing and healing after a cancer diagnosis the year before, to pulling off the most improbable finish of the 2016 season – which Oklahoma State continues to whine about, even though it’s its own fault for not playing any defense on the miraculous final play – there’s been a lot going on.
This year, Bonamego might have the right blend to make Central Michigan even more interesting – as in winning the MAC championship.
Stuck in a rut of slightly-above-averageness, CMU has been a regular lately on the bowl circuit, it won a share of the 2015 West division, and last year it came up with that epic win over Oklahoma State, which turned out to be necessary considering the total collapse over the second half of last year.
There was too much talent in place to lose five of the last six games – who loses to Kent State? – but that’s what the Chippewas did, closing out with an embarrassing performance in a 55-10 loss to Tulsa.
But let that serve as a motivating factor. Just about everyone is back from last year’s team, and while the schedule is a bear – this team is seemingly never going to be home – the returning talent is enough to sneak up in a good MAC West and pull it out.
Gone if mainstay quarterback Cooper Rush, but Michigan transfer Shane Morris is coming in, along with a few other backups who have been around long enough to know what they’re doing.
And that’s it for the offense. That’s the only change.
With the exception of FB Joe Bacci, all the other starters return including just about everyone who mattered in the receiving corps, top runner Devon Spalding, and all five starters on the line.
The defense that got torched last season through the air gets back three great starters in the secondary, and a top-shelf leader in LB Malik Fountain on the inside. The tackles will be a concern early on, but Joe Ostman and the pass rush should be sound.
The pieces are in place for a coach in Bonamego who lives and breathes Central Michigan football, having played for the school and working his way up into his first head coaching job.
In his third year at the helm, he’s in a position to do big things with his alma mater. This might be the year he turns his program back into the MAC’s biggest star.