Central Michigan Breakdown

By Christopher Loggins

Sports Editor Christopher Loggins breaks down key players for the Chippewas as they face off against the Huskies at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Mount Pleasant, Mich. on ESPN3. Central Michigan won the last matchup between the teams 34-17.


Junior quarterback Cooper Rush vastly improved his numbers in 2014, throwing for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 63-percent passing. Rush threw for 3157 yards with a passer rating of 149.6, throwing for over 242 yards-per-game. These were jumps from the previous season where Rush threw for just 15 touchdowns and also had 15 interceptions, passing for 2349 yards on the year. He managed to finish in the top five of four MAC categories including passing touchdowns, passing efficiency, yards-per-game and total offense per game. Rush put up a historic performance in the Bahamas Bowl last season, scoring an NCAA bowl record seven touchdowns with a Central Michigan record 493 yards. In only his junior year, Rush already ranks in the top ten of three CMU categories including touchdown passes, passing yards and passes completed.

Running Back

Sophomore running back Devon Spalding played in 11 games in 2014, but ran the ball only 73 times. Spalding finished the season with 371 yards on the ground, good for second on the team, with four touchdowns on 5 yards-per-carry. He’s coming off of back-to-back games with over 70 yards and could be a big factor for the Chippewas. Central Michigan hasn’t solidified a number one running back although Spalding has handled the bulk of the rushing. The team passes much more often than they run, but it can get yards on the ground when need be.

Wide receiver

Junior wide receiver Anthony Rice started just two games in 2014 but played in all 13. Rice still managed to finish the year with 30 receptions, 321 yards and a touchdown, giving him a starting spot at receiver for the 2015 season. Through just four games this year, Rice has already almost eclipsed his numbers from last year. He has 27 catches and is coming off of an eight-catch, 78-yard performance against Michigan State. Standing at 6 feet and 179 pounds, Rice combines speed and strength nicely and has a chance to make big plays against NIU.


Senior linebacker Tim Hamilton started four games in 2014, picking up 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two pass deflections on the year. His performance throughout the year was good enough to earn him a starting position coming into this season. Hamilton has already picked up on his numbers from last season, as he already has nearly 30 tackles through four games. Hamilton will be key for the Chippewas as they look to stop the Huskies’ rush attack. NIU’s offense hasn’t rushed the ball exceptionally well up to this point in the year, and it may be tough getting the running game going again with players like Hamilton stuffing the middle.

Defensive Line

Junior defensive end Joe Ostman started all 13 games in 2014 for the Chippewas, earning Third Team All-MAC honors. Ostman finished the third on the team with 60 tackles, second on the team with three sacks and second in tackles-for-loss with 10. He forced three fumbles, recovered one fumble and even deflected a pass. His presence on the edge is key for a defense which finished last season with 20 sacks for a loss of 127 yards. Ostman’s first true year as a starter was in 2014, and he proved he be a big contributor to the success of the defense. Containing him should be a huge priority for the Huskies.


Junior safety Tony Annese had a big year in 2014 for CMU. The defensive back ended the year second on the team with 74 tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. Annese broke up 10 passes on the season and recovered two fumbles. Standing at 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, he’s made a big impact in the secondary and disrupted plays consistently. Annese has become a leader of Central Michigan’s defense and seems to only be getting better. His versatility allows him to make tackles in the run game and also defend the back end of the Chippewas’ defense. Too many passes thrown his way can end in trouble, and he will surely be looking for an opporunity at a key turnover come Saturday.