Getting to know: Central Michigan football
The University of Kansas football team will look to snap a 46-game road losing streak after dropping the season opener.
Kansas, which has lost 12 consecutive games, fell to Nicholls State in overtime in the first game of the 2018 season. Head coach David Beaty, who is in his fourth year at the helm, now has a 3-34 record and has posted a 2-2 clip against FCS teams.
“The big thing for us is not letting this game beat us twice,” Beaty said. “So what are we going to do from here? And making sure that we don’t put too much focus on one game. Whether we came out on top or whether we came out where we did, we’d be having the same conversation in that regard. But I think sometimes you can learn a lot from these.”
Central Michigan (0-1) is also coming off a loss in the first game of the year, dropping a 35-20 decision at Kentucky. The Chippewas went 8-5 last season, including a 45-27 road victory over the Jayhawks.
Kansas travels to Central Michigan at 2 p.m. Saturday.
BREAKING DOWN CENTRAL MICHIGAN:
Quarterback — Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tony Poljan made his first career start under center last week, completing 17 of 27 pass attempts for 137 yards. Poljan also ran for a team-high 47 yards in the loss. Poljan, who played some tight end and receiver last year, is listed at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds on the Central Michigan roster.
Running backs — As a team, the Chippewas ran for 118 yards in the loss to the Wildcats last weekend. Junior running back Jonathan Ward finished with 36 yards on the ground and sophomore Kumehnnu Gwilly notched 26 rushing yards. Last season, Ward paced the squad with 990 rushing yards and Gwilly finished second on the team with 202 rushing yards.
Receivers — Nine different players caught a pass in the season opener, as Cameron Cole led the team with four catches for 51 yards. Brandon Childress, Jamil Sabbagh, Bernhard Raimann, Keggan Cossou and Gwilly eached tallied two receptions. This team will utilize a power run scheme, but it isn’t afraid to throw to several different options in the passing game.
Offensive line — Derek Smith (left tackle), Shakir Carr (left guard), Steve Eipper (center), Jamezz Kimbrough (right guard) and Alex Neering (right tackle) make up of the Central Michigan offensive line. The unit paved the way for 118 rushing yards, recording seven first downs via run. Central Michigan averaged 3.9 yards per play in the season opener.
Defensive line — Central Michigan has a four-man front on the defense line, featuring defensive ends Mike Danna and Mitch Stanitzek. D’Andre Dill and Nathan Brisson-Fast will play defensive tackle for the Chippewas. In his junior season, Brisson-Fast registered 36 tackles and ranked second on the team with 8.5 tackles-for-loss.
Linebackers — Malik Fountain, Trevor Apsey and Michael Oliver made up the starting linebacker unit against Kentucky. Fountain, a senior, earned second team All-Mac last season after finishing first on the team with 89 tackles. Apsey, who has made 38 appearances in his career, posted his first career start last weekend.
Secondary — Xavier Crawford, who transferred from Oregon State, and Brandon Brown got the nod as the starting corners in the first week. Meanwhile, Alonzo McCoy and Devonni Reed held down the safety positions at Kentucky. Both Reed and Brown are redshirt freshmen this fall, as Central Michigan has nine redshirt freshman and four true freshman playing meaningful snaps.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Michael Armstrong netted two field goal to start the season, hitting a 26-yard field goal and a 22-yard field goal in the loss. Armstrong’s 26-yard field was actually the first score of the game, though Kentucky quickly answered with a long touchdown run. Last season, Armstrong made 43 of 44 extra point attempts and drilled seven of 11 field goals.
FUN FACT — Central Michigan’s defense has a knack for creating turnovers, recording four turnovers in the loss at Kentucky. That mark is tied for sixth-best in the nation through the early part of the new season. Last year, the Chippewas were tied for third in the nation with 31 turnovers gained.
VEGAS SAYS… According to Bovada, Central Michigan is a five-point favorite at home against Kansas. The Jayhawks, who have dropped 46 consecutive games away from home, haven’t won a road game since 2009. The overtime loss to Nicholls State didn’t give me any reason to believe this will change anytime soon. I’m willing to sacrifice the points, I’m taking Central Michigan to cover the spread.
Score prediction: Central Michigan 28, Kansas 13