2018 RECORD: 1-11 overall, 0-8 MAC
HEAD COACH: Jim McElwain (1st season)
2019 MAC Media Poll: 6th MAC West
There’s work to be done in Mt. Pleasant -- lots of it.
New head coach Jim McElwain will serve as foreman while the Chippewas try to turn things around after recording just one victory in 2018.
Here’s more on the Chippewas . . .
Scoring offense: 15.0 ppg (12th MAC)
Scoring defense: 27.3 ppg (7th MAC)
Total offense: 254.7 ypg (12th MAC)
Total defense: 355.3 ypg (2nd MAC)
Turnover margin: minus 5 (tied for 10th MAC)
➤➤ CMU struggled mightily both throwing and running the football last year. It was last among MAC teams in pass office and pass efficiency. The Chippewas were 10th in rush offense, averaging 120.0 ypg.
➤➤ Quarterbacks Tony Poljan and Tommy Lazarro are back. However, senior transfer Quinten Dormandy (Tennessee and Houston) is a former four-star recruit who could be a bridge to the future. Redshirt freshman George Pearson could move up on the depth chart.
➤➤ COACH McELWAIN ON QUINTEN DORMANDY: "He brings maturity (and) calm. He's a guy that makes really good decisions and knows where to go with it. ... He's a guy that understands systems ... so its been an easy transition for him. I'm excited for our team to have that kind of leadership."
➤➤ Leading receiver Julian Hicks (28 catches, 313 yards, 4 TDs) has transferred out, but former Virginia Tech wideout Kalil Pimpleton steps into the picture. Senior Brandon Childress (15 catches, 155 yards) returns. There is also a lot of unproven talent in the room if CMU can get the QB situation fixed and otherwise improve the passing game.
➤➤ Seniors Jonathan Ward and Romello Ross combined for 165 carries for 614 yards and three scores in 2018. Ward had a big year back in 2017 when he carried 179 times for 1,017 yards and 10 TDs.
➤➤ A major focus for improvement will be along the offensive line. Senior Steve Eipper and sophomore Jamezz Kimbrough are returning starters. However, there is a lot of work to do given the Chippewas run and pass difficulties. CMU allowed 37 sacks in 2018 - next to last among MAC teams with only 12 games.
➤➤ Central Michigan’s 12 fumble recoveries was second among MAC teams, while the total turnovers gained overall (22) was fourth.
➤➤ The Chippewas were second among MAC teams in pass defense efficiency. However, two cornerbacks declared for the NFL draft. The corners will be young, while senior DqQuan Jamison and sophomore safeties Devonni Reed will return to starting roles.
➤➤ Defensive end Mike Danna (9.5 sacks, 15 tfl) transferred to Michigan. Leading tackler Malik Fountain (88 solo, 67 assists, 2.5 sacks) was part of a strong linebacking corps that will have to be rebuilt, although senior Michael Oliver will be able to step into Fountain’s middle linebacking role.
➤➤ D’Andre Dill returns along the front line, where he and Robi Stewart should be stalwarts against the run.
➤➤ Kicker Ryan Tice showed quite a leg in 2018, hitting 7 of 8 from 40 or more yards with a long of 53. He was 10 of 12 overall and 14 of 15 on PATs. Fall camp competition will provide a punter.
➤➤ COACH McELWAIN ON THE CHIPPEWAS' OFFENSE: We'll be "as multiple as we can be and (try to keep) people off balance. We've identified playmakers. These guys have to touch it."
➤➤ After opening at home against Albany, CMU tackles a Big 10 opponent when it travels to Wisconsin. An early MAC date -- at home against Akron - precedes a trip to Miami (Fla). Western Michigan (away) follows.
➤➤ Central Michigan’s final non-conference game comes in Week Seven, when it hosts New Mexico State.
➤➤ MAC East foes on the 2018 slate are Akron (H), Bowling Green (A) and Buffalo (A).
➤➤ Injuries hampered CMU last year, contributing to the dismal record. McElwain hopes to orchestrate a return to the glory of past Chippewa teams. "Sometimes there is not a lot you can do about (things like injuries). I know our players are ready to get back at it and ... (show last year) was just a blip on the radar."
McElwain has a big challenge ahead of him, Last year’s defense was solid enough, but CMU lost some key performers. Some new faces will have to step up for that unit to maintain its level.
Turning the offense into a productive unit is a big challenge and a full rebuild could take a couple years.