Breaking Down the Chippewas

By Frank Gogola

Football continues its three-game homestand with a Homecoming date with Central Michigan. The Huskies (4-1, 1-0 MAC) will take on the Central Michigan Chippewas (3-3, 1-1 MAC) 4 p.m. Saturday at Huskie Stadium. Football beat writers Frank Gogola and Danny Albers break down the Chippewas.

Quarterback: Cooper Rush

Sophomore quarterback Cooper Rush has improved his passing game in his second season at the helm of the Chippewas’ offense. Rush tossed 15 touchdowns and was picked off 15 times in 11 game last season. This year, he’s thrown eight touchdowns and only been picked off three times. With an arsenal of receivers who can go up and get the ball, Rush is competing 64.4 percent of his passes for an average of 205 passing yards per game. Rush is more of a pure pocket passer and has struggled running the ball.

Running Back: Thomas Rawls

Senior running back Thomas Rawls is on pace to rush for more than 1,000 yards this season. Rawls has run for a team-best 570 yards through six games this season. Rawls has also punched in seven of the Chippewas’ eight rushing touchdowns. The Huskies’ defense will have trouble containing Rawls, who is 142.5 rushing yards per game and 5 yards per carry. A downhill runner, Rawls has been an efficient back for the Chippewas and has been a big part of their ground game.

Wide Receiver: Titus Davis

Senior wide receiver Titus Davis is arguably one of the best wide receivers in the conference. Davis has missed three games this season, but when he’s on the field he hasn’t missed a beat. Davis leads the Chippewas with 320 receiving yards for an average of 106.7 yards per game. He has caught 17 passes and scored two touchdowns, averaging 18.8 yards per reception. If the Huskies try to overload coverage on Davis, the Chippewas can go to junior Jesse Kroll, who has 289 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Offensive Line: Ramadan Ahmeti

Junior left tackle Ramadan Ahmeti is tasked with defending quarterback Cooper Rush’s blindside. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound left tackle is part of an offensive line that has struggled early on this season. The Central Michigan offensive line has allowed 16 sacks through six games this season. Their 2.67 sacks allowed per game is tied for 102nd in the FBS. If the offensive line can create holes in the running game and protect the pocket in the passing game, the Chippewas have the offensive sill players to give the Huskies headaches.

Defensive Line: Joe Ostman

Sophomore defensive end Joe Ostman has been a big part of the Chippewas’ defensive line in 2014. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman leads the Chippewas with six tackles for loss on the season and is tied for the team lead with two sacks. Coming off the edge, Ostman has posted 30 tackles and has forced one fumble on the season. Ostman and the rest of the defensive line will have its hands full with the Huskies’ veteran offensive, which has given up only five sacks through five games.

Linebacker: Justin Cherocci

Justin Cherocci, redshirt senior middle linebacker, has been one of the most consistent linebackers in the MAC during his career. Cherocci has named to the All-MAC Third Team last season, leading the MAC with 121 total tackles and ranking 16th in the FBS with an average of 10.1 tackles per game. This season, Cherocci has shown his range, recording 61 total tackles; the No. 2 tackler on the team has only 32 tackles. He also has posted 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.

Defensive Back: Brandon Greer

Junior defensive back Brandon Greer has stood out as a playmaker in the Chippewas’ secondary midway through the season. Greer is tied for the team lead with two interceptions, which he returned for a total of 57 yards. He is seemingly always around the ball, recording two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. But, Greer has shown he is also capable of laying the wood, posting 20 total tackles and one tackle for loss in the 2014 campaign.

Special Teams: Brian Eavey

Redshirt freshman kicker Brian Eavey has been perfect this season for the Chippewas. The Michigan native has connected on all three of his field goal attempts. He is 2-2 from 20-29 yards out and 1-1 from 30-39 yards out. His longest field goal on the season was a 37-yarder he made against the Kansas Jayhawks Sept. 20 on the road. If the game comes down to field goals Saturday it may be a toss-up between Eavey and NIU’s Tyler Wedel, who is 6-9 on field goals with a long of 45 yards this season.