Central Michigan to end non-conference schedule at Boston College

Zach Libby, Staff Writer
Chippewa Country
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Photo courtesy Ben Jared | CMUChippewas.com

When discussing penalties in last week's conference opener, Central Michigan didn't commit a significant number, garnering six total in the 31-14 loss to Miami (OH).

But it was the timing of them that caused ample opportunities to whittle.

Head coach John Bonamego, on this week's MAC Teleconference, said the roughing-the-passer setback by defensive end Mitch Stanitzek in the second quarter that erased an interception by Amari Coleman, was the right call.

It would have been the cornerback's third on the season, tying with safety Josh Cox. Instead, the RedHawks scored two plays later for a three possession lead.

Coleman later had a 100-yard return for an apparent touchdown after catching the ball in the end zone when Miami attempted the first half ending field goal.

But, senior captain Joe Ostman, who led CMU with two sacks Saturday, was called for leveraging. The Chippewas would have began the second half down 28-21 had it not been for the penalty.

"It's just unfortunate that you have plays like that in a game and they get taken back," Bonamego said. "We just need to execute at a higher level to give ourselves a chance to win versus a quality opponent."

Staying attentive to details and being fundamentally sound in practice has been the focus before Central Michigan concludes its non-conference slate against Boston College at Alumni Stadium.

The Eagles have lost their last three games after a 23-20 win over Northern Illinois to open the season. They're coming off a 34-7 defeat to the College Football Playoff national champions, No. 2 ranked Clemson, this past week.

BC did enter the fourth quarter tied 7-7 against the Tigers before allowing four unanswered touchdowns.

"(Boston College) is a well built team," Bonamego said. "We're going to need an excellent game plan and bring our big boy pants for sure, while executing at a much higher level than last week with consistency."

The defense is the Eagles' strong suit, with the two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference defensive end Harold Landry christened as the mainstay. He finished first in the country in sacks last year with 16.5.

Junior Lukas Denis, who made the switch from cornerback to safety, has three interceptions this season and tallied a career-high 13 tackles at Clemson.

Denis and the rest of the Boston College secondary is 14th nationally and second in the ACC in allowing 147.5 passing yards per game. Central Michigan is averaging 306.3 passing yards a game this year.

The problem with Boston College's offense is the lack of big plays, first brought up by SB Nation's BC Interruption blog. Averaging 15 points per game this season, ranked in the bottom 10 of the FBS, the team has yet to recorded a play that's gone 40 yards or more.

Accumulating under four yards a play, the Eagles bring a conservative game plan that features three running backs–AJ Dillon, Jon Hillman and Thadd Smith–who've combined for over 500 yards on the ground.

Dual-threat quarterback Anthony Brown left early in the Clemson game due to undisclosed conditions and is one of six BC players who could miss Saturday's contest.

The redshirt freshman finished 14-of-30 for 133 yards and an interception.

"They'll try and run the ball down your throat," Bonamego said. "They have two excellent ball carriers in (AJ) Dillon and Jon (Hillman). The quarterback (Brown) is a young player, but when he's on, he's really good but there's other times where he looks like a freshman."

The rest, left tackle Aaron Monteiro, middle linebacker Max Richardson, center Jon Baker, linebacker Connor Strachan and wide receiver Charlie Callinan didn't play against the Tigers.

Strachan, the team's leading tackler, is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

The Chippewas are continuing to reel from their own set of injuries, with starting tight end Logan Hessbrook now out with a concussion. Senior Zach Crouch got the start against Miami (OH) and will wear the No. 21 jersey in honor of the late-Derrick Nash this week.

That leaves graduate transfer quarterback Shane Morris without his top two wide receiver and tight end targets. Redshirt senior Eric Cooper did have a career outing last week, catching six passes for 81 yards with a 25-yard touchdown reception.

CMU is 47th nationally in total offense (454.0 ypg) and 86th in scoring offense (26.5 ppg). This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams, with Boston College winning each time in a 15-year span.

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