Three & Out with Central Michigan...
• Kansas Jayhawks (1-1) vs. Central Michigan (2-1)
— 2:30 p.m. (central) Saturday, Sept. 20, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas —
Three and out, with the Central Michigan Chippewas...
There are a couple of KU-CMU connections heading into this week's game but most of them are pretty distant. For starters, KU kicker Matthew Wyman hails from the state of Michigan (Bloomfield Hills) and Central Michigan offensive coordinator Morris Watts, a coaching legend, according to KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, held the same job at KU in 1982.
One interesting connection is that CMU head coach Dan Enos and KU running backs coach Reggie Mitchell both have worked at two of the same schools in the past (Western Michigan and Michigan State) but not at the same time. Beyond that, KU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and CMU assistant Kyle Nystrom were on the same staff at TCU and KU safeties coach Scott Vestal and Chippewas DC Joe Tumpkin worked on the same staff at SMU.
Finally, CMU wide receiver Anthony Rice hails from the same high school as KU long snapper Reilly Jeffers and grew up with Jeffers, Charlie Weis Jr., and Tre' Parmalee. KU coach Charlie Weis said Rice was over at the Weis house quite a bit growing up.
KU senior receiver Nick Harwell twice played against the Chippewas during his three seasons at Miami (Ohio) and had some pretty memorable days against them. In the 2010 game, Harwell racked up 97 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Two years later, in 2012, he racked up a whopping 215 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions.
Different schools, different systems, different defenses, different quarterback, of course. But you gotta think that Harwell will be more than a little happy to see the CMU colors out there on the field on Saturday.
Dubbed by Charlie Weis as “an old school” football team, Central Michigan's offense enters this weekend averaging 20.3 points per game and with a pretty balanced attack. Of the Chippewas 52 first downs on the season, 24 have come via the pass and 23 have come via the run. (The other five have come via penalties).
CMU has a high success rate in the red zone (7-of-10) and also is averaging more than 30 minutes per game in time of possession. One of the more amazing stats for this offense is that it is averaging a first down every time it completes a pass, at 12.0 yards per completion.
Defensively, CMU has surrendered just 24 points per game (to teams including Purdue and Syracuse) and has been solid against the pass, giving up just 517 passing yards in three games and swiping six interceptions.
Don't expect the old school CMU defense to be overwhelmed by the idea of facing a quarterback who will be asked to throw and run. CMU coach Dan Enos said this week that KU QB Montell Cozart reminded him a lot of the QB the Chippewas just saw last week in Syracuse's Terrel Hunt.
"He's very similar," Enos said in comparing Cozart to Hunt. "He's big, got a strong arm, and he can move. And I thought the young man from Syracuse played very well and we didn't do enough things to disrupt him. We need to do a better job this week of that."
Enos also noted that several teams in the MAC feature dual-threat type quarterbacks so it's nothing the Chippewas won't have seen many times before.
"A lot of teams in our league are going to have quarterbacks who can move around and run and it's just something we're going to have to deal with every week," Enos said. "We've just got to get better, have a better game plan, and we've got to execute better."