Saturday, September 25, 2010

Live blog: Wolverines improve to 4-0

By Anthony Fenech
Free Press Special Writer

Michigan wins, 65-21

Free Press special writer Anthony Fenech is live-blogging today's Michigan vs. Bowling Green game. Anthony couldn't find a ride to Ann Arbor, so he'll be bringing you his thoughts off of ESPN2's telecast.

Feel free to discuss the game with Anthony in the chat below. For those of you on our mobile site, we will post periodic game updates below the chat. Enjoy the game, everyone!

First quarter

Robinson scores on a two-yard keeper, 7-0 Wolverines.

UM up 14-0 with 9:28 left, another rushing touchdown by Robinson.

Another huge run by Robinson but he's hobbling after play. Devin Gardner is the new Michigan quarterback.

Touchdown by Gallon, call stands after review. Wolverines up, 21-0, with 4:21 left.

Quarter ends, same score, 21-0.

Second quarter

With 11:30 to go, Bowling Green on 1-yard line.

2nd and goal for BG, penalty on offense.

Bowling Green breaks through on 4th down, touchdown with 8:53 left.

Michigan leads, 21-7.

Penalty on Molk calls back Gardner touchdown pass for Michigan.

UM turns it over on downs. BG capitalizes, scores with 5:07 left. Michigan leads, 21-14.

Forcier now in at QB for Michigan.

1st down for Michigan with 1:44 left.

Shaw touchdown with 42 seconds left. U-M up 28-14.

Third quarter

Second half under way.

Bad snap to punter for Bowling Green; Michigan safety. Wolverines lead, 30-14, with 13:38 left.

Forcier TD pass to John McCogan, Michigan leads 37-14 with nine minutes left.

Vincent Smith breaks a tackle, heads to the end zone, Michigan up 43-14 with 7:21 remaining in third quarter. Extra point good.

Fourth quarter

On 4th and goal, Bowling Green's Hopgood runs in for a touchdown after good stops by U-M defense. Michigan leads, 44-21.

Vincent Smith scores again, Wolverines lead, 51-21 with 13:27 left in the game.

Toussaint runs for 61 yards, down to BG 6-yard line. And scores one play later, 58-21.

Gardner in at QB, runs for touchdown with 3:11 left. U-M leads, 65-21.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Friday Feature: James Batcheller runs Chippewa Marching Band like a championship team

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 24, 2010

What the heck, he thought.

Why not come home to Michigan, after a healthy cross-country trip to Florida, Montana, Oklahoma and back? Why not come back to his alma mater to direct the same marching band he once marched in?

“So I threw my hat into the ring,” said James Batcheller, a 1986 Central Michigan graduate and director of the Chippewa Marching Band. “And I’ve been here ever since.”

He’s been here, coaching music on a practice football field just off East Campus Drive since 2000, when he joined CMU as associate director of bands, replacing Jack Saunders after his retirement.

“It’s been coming back to a place that I know and I love,” he said.

This is a post-anniversary year of sorts for Batcheller who, last year, celebrated both his 50th birthday and 10th consecutive year at Central Michigan, the latter of which he received “a nice little pat on the back for.”

These days, he oversees a band of 275 members, about 50 more than when he started a decade ago.

“We just don’t have any more uniforms,” he said, laughing behind thin-rimmed glasses on a warm and sunny September afternoon. “We’re at capacity.”

He grew up listening to great music: his mother played the coronet, his aunts and uncles all played instruments, his grandfather was a pianist, and his father, well, his father likes to say he was the first guy on his block to have a stereo amplifier.

He said his career in music was a natural fit.

A championship team

“Putting a marching band together, putting any kind of music ensemble together is very much like putting together a championship football team,” he said. “There’s a level of dedication from every member of the group, and when you don’t have that, there can be no real success.”

It’s Batcheller’s job to not only sustain success, but to set the bar higher from year to year,

“Generally, the band gets better every year,” he said. “It’s the motto of the band.”

Which is why on Thursday, he watched with a close eye with a white whistle around his neck as an army of musicians practiced, played and rehearsed, for a stretch of performances not unlike the football team’s stretch run.

“Every rehearsal should be better than the last one, every performance better than the last one,” he said. “So every year should be better than the last.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unsung heroes: Staten, Petrucci, Tipton step up when needed

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 22, 2010

They know their roles.

Armond Staten is just a backup linebacker. Mike Petrucci is just a backup linebacker. And Zurlon Tipton, he’s just a “punk freshman.”

“That’s my role this year,” Tipton said. “I’m just out there to get the team a win. Wherever they need me, whenever they tell me to go in, I do what I can to get the job done.”

And it’s going to take whatever these three can give for the Chippewas to get the job done this season. The trio made their presence felt loud and clear in Saturday afternoon’s 52-14 victory against Eastern Michigan.

“The more guys that can play in games like that, the better off your football team is going to be,” said CMU head coach Dan Enos.

Against Hampton, Staten recovered a fumble. Against Temple, Petrucci filled in for an injured Nick Bellore.

And against EMU, Tipton scored in his first game back in over a year, after an injury ended his season last year and a suspension began his season this year.

They ran, they tackled, they scored and unfortunately for head coach Dan Enos, put together a nice little highlight tape of plays to show the rest of Central Michigan’s opponents that if and when the next Chippewas starter gets injured, there is an army of backups ready to step in and perform.

“For any position on your football team, the more guys that can play in games like that, the better off your football team is going to be,” Enos said. “You need to have capable backups, and we’re very fortunate.”
And it didn’t take Enos very long to see just how fortunate the team was.


“It’s my job to stay consistent and ready to back up,” said Petrucci, a junior linebacker that put a defensive exclamation point on Saturday’s win with a 43-yard fumble recovery touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter. “It’s been good to be able to contribute.”

On the play, Petrucci trailed sophomore linebacker Alex Smith on a strong side blitz. After Smith clobbered Eagles quarterback Devontae Payne in the backfield, the ball fell into Petrucci’s hands.

And then, in front of his mom, dad, brother Pat and a couple of his friends, he ran.

“I was just going as fast as I could,” he said. “To be honest, I thought I was going to get run down and caught.”

He didn’t, and the Chippewas defense had their first touchdown of the year.

“We knew that if he was given the opportunity he would step up to the plate,” Enos said. “He’s played very well the past two weeks, is very capable and works very hard.”

One of the first to greet Petrucci on the sidelines was fellow junior linebacker Armond Staten, who recorded a team-high and career-high 13 tackles in CMU’s win Saturday, playing most of the game as he continues to work to secure his spot as starting linebacker.


“I didn’t even know about it until the reporters told me afterword,” he said of the milestone. “I was just doing my job.”

After seeing limited time in his first two years, Staten came into camp with a starting job this fall before injuries derailed him.

“He was up-and-down in the fall and nicked up,” Enos said. “He ended up losing his job but to his credit, Armond didn’t pout or anything. He just kept working. He’s a team guy and a hard worker.”

And as of Tuesday night, he’s listed atop the team’s depth chart at strong side linebacker.

“Compared to when I first got here,” he said, “I’m a completely different person and player.”


Just like Zurlon Tipton.

Tipton, a redshirt freshman from Detroit, was injured on a kickoff return in CMU’s game against Alcorn State last season. He was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, and worked last season to rehab his injured left wrist, which at one time saw a bone popping out of his arm, and another time, had pins screwed into that bone.

“I feel good now,” he said. “Especially coming back to play football. Sitting around wasn’t going to help anything, so I just got in the weight room everyday and got stronger.”

It’s shown. He busted two runs for 10 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, the first of his career, in the fourth quarter.

“It felt real good,” he said of getting back on the field. “When you’re out for a year, you step out there and it feels real good. That touchdown was just a plus.”

Enos, who had to suspend Tipton for a violation of team policy earlier this season, sees the running back getting better each day.

“The sky’s the limit for him potentially,” Enos said. “The more he plays, the more he’ll get better and we think he’ll be a very, very good back by the end of the season.”

So whether it’s Armond Staten, Mike Petrucci, Zurlon Tipton or any of the second-and-third string cast of characters that make up the infrastructure of a college football team, the backups should be ready.

“Like I tell the guys,” Enos said. “You’re going to be given an opportunity at some point and you just want to make sure you continue to prepare yourself, so when you get that opportunity you are successful.”

Until then, these guys know their roles.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Runaway: Cotton career day leads CMU to first MAC win

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 20, 2010

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Paris Cotton ran.

He ran right, he ran left, he ran into the end zone — three times — and on Saturday afternoon at Rynearson Stadium against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, the junior running back ran the Chippewas to their first division win of the season.

And he might still be running.

“I’m coming out here to play for my teammates,” Cotton said. “All the 10 guys on the field did their job and made it a lot easier for me.”

Powered by an offensive attack that produced like the Chippewas of yesteryear, Central Michigan defeated EMU 52-14 in front of 20,348 fans in Ypsilanti.

Cotton’s three touchdowns, on a day where he ran for a career-high 209 yards on 21 carries, was more than enough for a stout CMU defense that rendered the Eagles offense powerless all game long.

With the Chippewas leading by a pair of touchdowns at the half, Cotton broke the contest wide open on a 61-yard touchdown run just a minute and a half into the second, streaking untouched down the CMU sideline for a 28-7 lead.

The score was his third of the day, after a 13-yard touchdown run in the first quarter followed by a one-yard run late in the second.

“I approach every game the same way,” Cotton said. “I’ll do everything I can to win.”

He averaged 10 yards per carry and added three receptions for 36 yards.

“The thing about Paris is that’s how he practices,” said head coach Dan Enos. “Full-speed, all the time. It doesn’t surprise anyone.”

Offense clicks

The sophomore combination of quarterback Ryan Radcliff and wide receiver Cody Wilson also enjoyed productive days as Central Michigan had its highest-scoring game since last season’s victory over Toledo.

The duo connected on a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to open the scoring.

“It was nice to take some shots today and air it out a little bit,” Radcliff said. “I’m glad that was in our plans today.”

Wilson recorded three catches for 100 yards on the day, all in the first half. The touchdown was his second of the year.

After Cotton’s first touchdown run of the game with 47 seconds remaining in the quarter, Eastern Michigan responded with a two-yard touchdown run from running back Dwayne Priest, cutting the lead in half.

The Eagles were unable to muster any offense the rest of the way, save a 52-yard touchdown pass from Alex Gillett to Donald Scott halfway through the third quarter.

“I can’t say enough about them,” Enos said of the defense. “They hung in there and we were able to get after them.”

Never more so than when freshman linebacker Mike Petrucci returned a fumble for a 43-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, giving CMU a commanding 42-14 lead.

Junior linebacker Armond Staten recorded a team-high 13 tackles for the defense.

“We really challenged our players this week,” Enos said. “And they responded by playing well.”

Radcliff finished with 254 yards on 15-of-23 passing and threw for two touchdowns, including a 14-yard strike to senior wide receiver Kito Poblah at the 4:20 mark of the third quarter.

Redshirt freshman running back Zurlon Tipton returned from a two-game suspension with 55 yards on 11 carries, and scored on a 20-yard touchdown run late in the game.

“I thought we came back from our disappointing loss well,” Enos said.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chippewas rout EMU, 52-14, to even MAC record

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 18, 2010

YPSILANTI, Mich. – The Central Michigan Chippewas used an impressive rushing attack Saturday to defeat Eastern Michigan, 52-14, at Rynearson Stadium.

CMU was led by junior running back Paris Cotton, who rushed for a career-high 209 yards on 21 carries, scoring three times.

The Chippewas (2-1, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) didn’t appear to be tested, racking up 523 yards of total offense against EMU, who has now lost 15 consecutive games.

“We really challenged our players this week,” said head coach Dan Enos. “And they responded by playing well.”

Picking up where they left off last week against Temple, the sophomore combination of quarterback Ryan Radcliff and Cody Wilson connected for a 21-yard touchdown late in the first quarter and the Chippewas never looked back.

Cotton added a 13-yard touchdown run

three minutes later, after a long pass play from Radcliff to Wilson put CMU in the red zone.

Wilson caught three passes for 100 yards on the day, all in the first half, and Radcliff completed 15-of-23 passes for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“It was nice to air it out a little bit,” Radcliff said.

Cotton put an exclamation point on the victory just 1:30 into the second half, breaking a 61-yard touchdown run down the right sidelines to give CMU a healthy 21-point lead.

“The thing about Paris,” Enos said, “Is that’s how he practices. Full speed, all the time. It doesn’t surprise anybody on our staff.”

Eastern Michigan (0-3, 0-2 MAC) was unable to muster any offense the rest of the way, save a 52-yard touchdown pass from Alex Gillett to Donald Scott halfway through the third quarter.

The offense responded to EMU’s long touchdown strike with an air strike of their own four minutes later on a 14-yard pass from Radcliff to senior wide receiver Kito Poblah.

Poblah recorded four catches for 55 yards. The touchdown was his first of the season.

Continuing an early-season trend, the Chippewas defense put the clamp on its opponent and made plays, forcing two Eagles fumbles, including a Mike Petrucci fumble recovery of 43 yards that resulted in a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

“I can’t say enough about them,” Enos said. “Our defense hung in there and we were able to get after them.”

In his first game back following a two-game suspension, redshirt freshman running back Zurlon Tipton rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries.

Tipton scored on a 20-yard rush in the fourth quarter.

“We thought we came back from our disappointing loss well,” Enos said.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle: Joe Kinville returns to CMU football team

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 17, 2010

He wasn’t thinking about football, not while fishing and not while hunting on his buddy’s property in Clare, and certainly not while living the college life.

Joe Kinville wasn’t thinking about football. He swears.

“I was happy with my decision,” he said. “And I didn’t regret leaving for a minute.”

No, the Central Michigan sophomore defensive end wasn’t thinking about football last January, while driving south on U.S. 127 in his white Ford F-150, on the way to his little brother’s wrestling tournament.

But football was thinking about him. And so was his little brother.

“It was overwhelming,” Kinville said. “It all just came back at a moment. I wanted to play.”

Just a year after leaving the Chippewas as a redshirt freshman following the 2008 Motor City Bowl, Joe Kinville wanted to play again.

He admits a return first started creeping into his head when head coach Dan Enos began recruiting his younger brother Mike, and he’ll tell you his departure had nothing to do with the previous coaching staff, but whatever it was that was keeping Kinville away from football, whatever it was that was keeping him in the gym and off the football field, it disappeared on that long stretch of two-lane highways to Lansing.

“Everything clicked,” he said Wednesday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, just a few days before his third consecutive start of the season at a position he’s known for a whole nine months. “I lost sight of how much I loved the game.”

So he walked into a wrestling tournament in Holt and told his parents and couple of others. Shortly thereafter, Mike, a Detroit Catholic Central senior just minutes from a Division 1 high school match in front of Eastern Michigan football coaches, found out from a teammate that his older brother was coming back to football.

Then he heard it from his brother.

“I’m going to play,” Joe said. “Now you need to come up to Central.”

Needless to say, Mike took home first place that day.

“I was really excited,” Mike Kinville said. “I’ve always been playing because he was playing.”
Now, they would be playing together.

Meeting Enos

‘Hey coach, I’m Joe. Remember me?’

Dan Enos remembered Joe Kinville. He remembered the big frame, the thick eyebrows and the athletic ability from recruiting Joe at Catholic Central as an assistant at Michigan State and, truth be told, he was hoping that Joe would show up.

And he did, on this cold, January day inside the warmth of Enos’ newly-occupied office in the Indoor Athletic Complex.

“I was wondering if I could walk on the team,” he said.

“Well Joe,” Enos asked, “Didn’t you didn’t quit once already?”

The nervous college sophomore nodded his head.

“So what makes us think you’re not going to come out here and quit again? You’re going to have to give us a pretty good reason.”

That reason lies somewhere in the knit-tight family life of the Kinvilles, a working-class family from Northville, and someplace in the sometimes-lonely world of a football player without a football field to play on.

“He just wasn’t happy,” said Mike Kinville. “He’s always been playing and when you’re not playing, it’s kind of tough.”

And tough is an embedded characteristic of the Kinville brothers, both successful wrestlers in high school.
“They’re workers, coming from a blue-collar, salt of the earth type of family,” Enos said.

And as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But Joe Kinville’s reason wasn’t tough. It wasn’t about hard hits, sacking quarterbacks or glory on the gridiron.

“Coach,” Joe said. “My kid brother is coming here to play football. What type of example would I be setting if I didn’t do the same thing and work just as hard?”

And with that, Joe Kinville was back on the CMU football team.

Change of heart

To say Joe Kinville never thought about football, ever, during his hiatus from the sport as he lived the college experience would be inaccurate.

He thought about football on Friday nights as he sat in the stands with his family and watched Mike dart sideline-to-sideline, and he thought about football when he reminisced about how his little brother would mimic big brother on the field as they grew up.

“Man,” he would think those nights. “He’s out there playing and I’m not.”

And it irked him.

“It was different,” he said. “I had the chance to play and quit. That’s not a good example to set for your little brother.”

So after Enos’ blessing, which included the not-to-be overlooked remarks about needing a defensive end the upcoming fall, and thinking the now 6-foot-2, 248-pound player would look mighty fine putting on a few more pounds, Joe Kinville got to work on setting the example straight.

In the weight room this winter, Enos said that Joe Kinville, “Drove in that first day and worked as hard as anybody.”

Throughout the spring and summer, the former linebacker worked and worked to transition to the defensive line, and on Sept. 2, Joe Kinville recorded his first collegiate sack in his first collegiate start, completing an unlikely journey from redshirt freshman to out of football and back.

“He seems happy now that he’s back playing football,” Mike Kinville said.

Older brother agrees.

“Having the time off made me a stronger player,” he said. “Now I’m back. I’ve missed it, I know I need it and I have both feet in now.”

These days, Joe Kinville is back to thinking about football.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bellore 'probable' Saturday against EMU

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 15, 2010

Nick Bellore can hear the clock.

“Time is precious,” he said Tuesday as he stood on a tender right ankle at Kelly-Shorts Stadium.

Time is also ticking.

And Bellore, the Chippewas senior linebacker who was forced out of CMU’s 13-10 loss at Temple on Thursday with a sprained ankle, knows it.

“You have 12, 13, maybe 14 games a year,” he said, “And a lot of it goes unbelievably quick. You miss a quarter here, a quarter there, it’s just a lot.”

He injured his right ankle in the second quarter, after wrapping up an Owls running back, when his right foot was in the air, left exposed to a pile of football players coming his way.

“It happens almost every play in every game,” he said. “Just unlucky.”

CMU head coach Dan Enos said the chances of his standout linebacker being on the field Saturday against Eastern Michigan are “probable,” adding, “there’s a good chance he’ll play.”

And after playing only three quarters against Hampton in the season opener before missing the second half against Temple, Bellore can also feel his time on the sidelines ticking away.

“I’m chomping at the bit,” he said after missing his second practice of the week. “I want to be out there.”

Today, he will be out there, scheduled to practice on the injured ankle for the first time since the injury, after long days of 10-12 medical treatments and of course, rest.

“It’s just a matter of getting better day-to-day and focusing on the next day,” Bellore said.

To date, Bellore has started 43 consecutive games for the Chippewas. This season, he has recorded 13 tackles, third highest on the team.

He said that watching from the bench during the second half of Thursday’s game was tough, especially in a game of that magnitude.

“Being a huge game, it was hard,” Bellore said. “But I had full confidence in everyone out there. They’re tough players and they’re good.”

The process of getting the ankle back to game speed includes various medical treatments, light exercises and between 4-8 meetings with an electronic stimulating machine each day.

Bellore said the 10-day break after the Temple game is “awesome,” adding that if the team only had a week break, there would be “no way” he could play on Saturday.

“It feels pretty good,” he said of the ankle. “It’s getting there. Obviously, I’m going to try and go out.”
In that regard, coach and player are on the same page.

“If he is able to go, he’ll go,” Enos said, dismissing any notion that the team might be better served holding the linebacker out until a week later, when they travel to play a higher-caliber opponent in Northwestern.

“This is a MAC West opponent, we’re 0-1 and we have to get to 1-1.

“Nick feels the same way,” Enos added.

Kickoff time announced

CMU’s Sept. 25 game at Northwestern will kick off at noon and air on the Big Ten Network. The game marks the Chippewas seventh television appearance of the 2010 season.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Missed opportunities cost CMU game against Temple

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 10, 2010

Cody Wilson pushed for five more yards. Cedric Fraser caught a pass and then threw a defender off of him. Paris Cotton cut a 14-yard loss in half.

The Chippewas offense had it Thursday night. They had the ball, they had the game and they knew it.
“We were doing everything we could to win,” Wilson said.

They had it, but they didn’t. And after a 13-10 overtime loss at Temple, their first Mid-American Conference opening loss in six years, they knew that as well.

“We tied it up,” he said. “We just couldn’t finish today.”

In the end, the same missed opportunities that put the offense to sleep in the first half would ultimately sink the Chippewas when, with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the football escaped sophomore quarterback Ryan Radcliff’s hand and trickled to midfield, where the clock would expire on regulation, the play noting an offense’s biggest missed opportunity with an exclamation.

The Chippewas outgained Temple by 86 yards, but they turned the ball over twice as much. They tallied two more first downs, but committed three more penalties.

CMU drove into Temple territory on the first three drives of the game, yet all they had to show for it was a punt, an interception and a turnover-on-downs.

It didn’t get much better, save a 70-yard hookup between Radcliff and Wilson and its complementing one-yard touchdown run from Cotton, the offense sputtering and kicker Paul Mudgett’s kicks fluttering, but there they were, in the fourth quarter, with a chance to win the game.

“It was a big part of the game,” Wilson said afterwards.

And suddenly, Radcliff was leading an offense, completing pass after pass as the Chippewas marched down the field for its longest drive in terms of plays, and second-longest in terms of yardage.

“He has a really good demeanor with our team,” head coach Dan Enos said of his quarterback’s performance with the game on the line.

Pinch-kicking, David Harman knocked one through the uprights with 1:11 remaining; the offense finally feeling gelled, hoping for another chance with the ball.

They had it, and then they didn’t.

“I thought we kind of left a lot out there,” Wilson said. “But we will learn from that and come back next week even stronger. I think good will come from this.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Live blog: Tigers wrap up White Sox series with a win

By Anthony Fenech
Free Press Special Writer

Free Press special writer Anthony Fenech is live-blogging today's game between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox from Comerica Park.

This will be our final Tigers live blog of the season. Feel free to discuss the game with Anthony in the chat below. For those of you on our mobile site, we will post periodic game updates below the chat. Enjoy the afternoon of baseball, everyone!

1st inning

• Johnny Damon singles home a run and Will Rhymes scores on a double-play ball. Tigers 2, White Sox 0.

3rd inning

• Ryan Raburn drives in a run on a fielder's choice and Jhonny Peralta singles in Johnny Damon. Tigers 4, White Sox 0.

4th inning

• Alex Rios hits a two-run home run to get Chicago on the board. Tigers 4, White Sox 2.

• Alex Avila scores on an infield single by Ryan Raburn. Tigers 5, White Sox 2.

7th inning

• Paul Konerko scored on a wild pitch. Tigers 5, White Sox 3.

• Jhonny Peralta hit a sacrifice fly to score Johnny Damon, Tigers 6, White Sox 3.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Temple turned into winner under Al Golden

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 08, 2010

The improvement is there.

That much is evident by looking only at Temple’s win totals during the past four years under the watchful eye of head coach Al Golden.

In his first season, the Owls won only a game.

Competing as an independent, Temple lost its first eight games of the Golden regime in 2006 and just missed setting a school-low mark for futility by beating Bowling Green to snap a 20-game losing streak, one shy of a school-record for consecutive losses.

The next season, the Owls won four games. Then five. And last year, after winning nine regular season games, Temple earned its first postseason appearance in 30 years, losing to UCLA, 30-21, in the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C.

But mention the Central Michigan Chippewas to the fifth-year Temple coach and he will tell you just how much improvement remains to be made in Philadelphia.

“We’re a long way away,” Golden said Monday during the Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference. “They are far and away better than anyone else in the (MAC) now and really, the one established program in the conference.

“When you win 27 out of 31 MAC games and you’re champions three of the past four years,” he added, “The resume speaks for itself.”

And a Thursday night victory over the Chippewas and in front of its home fans would certainly help bolster the national profile of a program once expelled from the Big East.

“I’m just glad we’re relevant in terms of getting picked and with the media,” Golden said. “For us, we have to learn to do it day in and day out.”

On Sept. 3, Temple learned how to do it in an unfamiliar role, narrowly missing an upset at the hands of defending NCAA Division 1 FCS champion and neighboring Villanova.

And after its nine-win performance last year, which included a second-place finish in the MAC East, the Owls needed a field goal from sophomore Brandon McManus with three seconds remaining to top the Wildcats, 31-24.

“We won the first one and we were lucky to do that,” Golden said. “We have a long way to go, but we hung together and finished the game strong.”

The crowd of 32,193 at Lincoln Financial Field was the second-largest to watch a Temple game at the venue.

“As you go on the road the first time, there’s always new things for the new guys,” said CMU head coach Dan Enos. “The good news is that we have a lot of veteran players that have played in a lot of venues and played on the road a lot, and we’re going to need that type of leadership of focus from our older guys that will filter down to our younger guys.”

Thursday’s game will be the first road trip for the Chippewas on the season, against a team many picked to win the conference, and senior linebacker Nick Bellore is relishing the early-season opportunity.

“It’s right here for us in the second game,” Bellore said. “We don’t have to look ahead to playing them.”

But the Owls, who have lost to CMU twice under Golden, have been looking forward to the game, one that will test just how far their once-shunned program has come.

“They’ve been the best team, and that’s what we’re trying to be,” Golden said. “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go to reach that level.”

Three former CMU football players make NFL rosters

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 08, 2010

It didn’t take long for Dan LeFevour to land on his feet again.

On Sunday, just a day after being cut by the Chicago Bears, the former Central Michigan quarterback was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals off waivers and placed on their regular roster.

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” LeFevour told the Bengals website. “I was just keeping an open mind. Luckily, I landed in a place like Cincinnati where at least I have some connections and know some guys on the team, so the transition won’t be that bad.”

During the preseason, LeFevour, who was drafted by the Bears in the sixth round of April’s NFL Draft, completed 19-of-41 passes for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

In Cincinnati, he will serve as the third-string quarterback behind eight-year veteran Carson Palmer and his younger brother, Jordan.

There, the 23-year-old will be reacquainted with rookies Geno Atkins and Jordan Shipley, who share the same agency, and University of Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones, who coached LeFevour for three years at CMU.

Brown, Zombo make NFL rosters

LeFevour’s main target during his stay in Mount Pleasant has also found a home.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown, a sixth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, made the team’s 53-man roster on Saturday.

Brown, who left school for the NFL Draft after his junior year, amassed nearly 3,200 receiving yards at CMU. He was a force on both the offensive side of the ball and special teams, where he scored five times during his collegiate career, and expects to make an impact on the Steelers offense this season.

Brown ranked third on the team in receiving this preseason, catching nine passes for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 11.4 yards/return average on punt returns led the team.

Brown and LeFevour are joined by linebacker Frank Zombo, who made the Green Bay Packers 53-man roster over the weekend, as three former Chippewas will suit up on Sundays this fall.

“I was very impressed with Frank,” Packers General Manager Ted Thompson said in a press conference on Sept. 5. “I think he competed very, very well. We’re counting on him helping the team this year.”

Zombo, an undrafted rookie from Sterling Heights, recorded 18 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble this preseason, but it was an early-camp ankle injury on Aug. 5 that impressed most on Thompson.

“He was hurting and still practicing,” Thompson said on Sunday, “And that’s very admirable.” But, Thompson added, “The reason he made our team is because he showed that he can play at a high level at that position.”

Zombo earned first team All-Mid-American Conference honors in 2008 and 2009 and ranks second in CMU history with 25.5 sacks.

He was unable to be reached for comment.

Other players cut

Former CMU players Eric Ghiaciuc and Andrew Hartline were cut over the weekend by the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, respectively.

Ghiaciuc was drafted by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft and has played in 48 career NFL games. Hartline was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Packers in 2009 and spent most of last season on the Dolphins practice squad.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Total Domination: CMU beats Hampton 33-0 in home opener

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 03, 2010

They weren’t glamorous, those first two points of the Dan Enos era at Central Michigan, scored courtesy of a foot-delivered safety from a lost Hampton University punter.

And they didn’t mean much, not in the final score of a season-opening 33-0 Chippewas shutout victory, but when Pirates punter Jordan Stovall kicked a stray football through Hampton’s end zone early in last night’s first quarter, after a long snap sailed high over his head, the Chippewas could breathe.

“It loosened me up,” said a smiling Enos after his first career victory as a head coach. “That meant we weren’t getting shut out.

“I thought it was appropriate,” he continued. “With the way the defense played, they deserved it.”

And after the ensuing kickoff, when sophomore Cody Wilson raced 81 yards on the return, virtually untouched in front of the Hampton sideline, the Chippewas could breathe a little easier.

A play later, running back Carl Volny tallied CMU’s first touchdown of the year, on a two-yard run up the middle. Two plays later, the Chippewas special teams unit forced and recovered a Hampton fumble on the kickoff. And two plays after that, following the shortest of touchdown runs by Parris Cotton, the Chippewas had a 16-point lead, one that would prove to be safe and secure.

“We won,” said Enos. “And that was our entire goal.”

There was no heavy breathing out of the 17,311 in attendance at Kelly/Shorts Stadium Thursday night. No upstart team from Hampton, Va., testing the new-look Chippewas in their first game against a NCAA Bowl Subdivision opponent and no blemishes on the report card of a rock-solid CMU defense.

There was business to be taken care of, and in a business-like fashion, the Chippewas passed the first test of the 2010 season.

“I was very happy with our effort and the attention to detail,” Enos said. “I know these guys will get better too.”

In his first collegiate start, sophomore quarterback Ryan Radcliff guided the offense to five scoring drives, threw for a touchdown, rushed for another, and finished with 242 yards on 20-for-34 passing.

“I definitely got a lot more comfortable out there by just being out there and building game chemistry with the guys,” Radcliff said.

The defense, led by senior linebacker Nick Bellore’s game-high seven tackles, allowed only 129 Pirates yards, and snuffed out the only Hampton trip into the CMU red zone, three minutes before the half, with a deflected interception by senior safety Bobby Seay.

“That was huge,” said Bellore of the interception. “There was a little adversity there. It was a long drive and we were able to get the pick.”

CMU’s defense forced two turnovers and allowed less than 50 yards on the ground and fewer than 100 through the air.

“Our defense was able to keep getting the ball back,” said Enos. “They played very well.”

Offensively, Cotton, a junior, had arguably his best game in a Chippewas uniform, turning in career bests in both attempts and yards, rushing for 94 yards on 18 carries.

“It was no surprise he looked as explosive as he did,” said Enos.

Complementing him was Volny, who gained 58 yards on 11 attempts. CMU totaled 168 rushing yards in the game.

“I told both those guys they should drink about 50 Gatorades tonight,” said Enos. “We’re going to have to run the ball the entire year and manufacture ways to do it.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Vision: CMU set to begin '10 season

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 01, 2010

A few weeks ago, Dan Enos was watching television, flipping through channels, when a certain Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver caught his eye.

He had seen the receiver before, heard about him, defended him and maybe even lost a minute or two of sleep thinking about him.

And now here the receiver was, in front of Enos, on a television screen tuned to ESPN’s SportsCenter, wearing a professional uniform and running away from professional players, when the first-year Central Michigan head coach stopped and thought, “Man, that guy’s fast. What if he had another year?”

But Antonio Brown doesn’t have another year. Neither does Dan LeFevour. Or Bryan Anderson. Or, for that matter, most of the familiar faces that helped cash four years of winning into a historic, season-ending Top 25 ticket last winter.

“Oh, well,” Enos remembered thinking that day, after watching Brown race past Detroit Lions defender after Lions defender for a 68-yard touchdown. “Time to move on.”

Time to move on, for a senior class, the most successful in school history. For a coaching staff, the second whose success in Mount Pleasant has led to bigger things. For a school icon, who left as a big fish in a small pond for a chance at being a small fish in a big pond, and most importantly, for a community and fan base whose expectations are no longer satisfied by beating WMU, having a winning season and earning a bowl bid.

No, present-day Chippewas football is not about being satisfied. It’s about winning. It’s about conference championships, bowl victories, double-digit win totals and yes, beating the Broncos, but badly.

And Enos understands that.

“There will be some things that look similar and some things that look different,” he said. “Hopefully they continue to see that we have more points at the end of the game than the other team.”

But where the Chippewas get those points, in a Mid-American Conference as wide open as ever, with a pair of Bowl Championship Series opponents on the schedule and without nearly 70 touchdowns from last season accounted for, remains to be seen.

And Enos also understands that.

“Obviously, that’s a lot of production,” he said. “But in football, guys have to step up. We have guys stepping up. We’ll be gaining the yards and throwing the ball, there will be different guys catching it, but hopefully things will be similar.”

The play similar and, for the returning seniors whose final season in the maroon-and-gold comes at the forefront of transition, the winning hopefully familiar.

“I think we’re going to be the forefront of the team,” said senior Nick Bellore, who, paired with fellow senior and All-MAC performer Matt Berning, give CMU a formidable one-two punch on defense.

Both lines return multiple starters, and nearly each position — with the exception of youthful quarterback and tight end groups — will lean on at least one seasoned senior as the infrastructure of a winning culture remains in tact.

“The seniors on this team have been nothing but supportive,” Enos said. “That’s the way you can transition without attrition.”

Transition without attrition. It is the ultimate goal of any college football program, one that has eluded more prestigious in-state programs as of late and one that, despite the recent poaching of successful coaches, the CMU football program has already achieved once before.

The playmakers might be gone, the stars shining elsewhere; the coaches might have left, making their millions wherever; but in Mount Pleasant, head coach Dan Enos and the 2010 Chippewas know it’s time.

Time to move on.

Receivers, led by Poblah, looking to fill old shoes

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 01, 2010

Dan Enos can describe his offense in one word: Multiple.

Multiple sets, in multiple formations, with multiple players.

“We’re going to keep defenses in a bind and make them try to cover the whole field,” the first-year Central Michigan head coach said.

So it comes as no surprise that this season, with last year’s two leading pass-catchers in the rearview mirror, the Chippewas wide receiving core is going to need multiple underclassmen to step up.

Antonio Brown is gone, having left Mount Pleasant last April for the NFL, and he will take his 2009 season of near 1,300 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns with him. Bryan Anderson and running back Bryan Schroeder — the No. 2 and 4 Chippewas receivers last season — are gone, having combined for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as supplemental targets to Brown.

The departures add up to over 2,200 receiving yards and 19 scores lost.

In other words, it’s going to take production from multiple receivers to bridge that wide gap.

“We have guys stepping up,” Enos said. “We’ll be gaining yards and throwing the ball, but different guys will be catching it and hopefully things will be similar.”

And it all starts at the top with Kito Poblah.

The senior wideout, who caught 53 passes for 681 yards and four touchdowns last year, will lead a group of players with a fair amount of on-the-job training ahead of them.

“Kito is making me better every day because he’s pushing me,” said senior wide receiver Matt Torres.

Torres, who played 10 games last season on special teams and backed up at receiver, said that Poblah has been in his ear, ever since freshman year, pushing him in practice with a reminder to work hard.

“They’re on us every day, to work hard and prepare for the best, day-by-day and step-by-step,” Torres said. “We’re filling shoes from the other guys that left.”

But Enos sees Poblah, who has caught a pass in 24 straight games, as much more than just a fill-in.

“He’s been unbelievable with the whole receiving core,” Enos said. “He’s a guy that leads by example, just an extremely hard worker.”

And one that can show the youngsters how to play the game, with or without the ball in their hands.

“He blocks and runs routes,” Enos said, noting that most of the receivers could be an option on any play. “But even when he knows he’s not a primary receiver, he still runs full-speed. Just a great example for any receiver, young or old.”

Enos said that a lot of different wide receivers will have a chance to play, and that he is comfortable with about a handful, so passes may come by committee.

He said sophomore Cody Wilson, who caught 25 passes for 226 yards last season, is a playmaker, and is excited to see junior Taylor Bradley, who was redshirted in 2009.

Other players mentioned in the mix by Enos include Torres, “He’s having a good spring;” junior Cedric Fraser, “Really steady;” and sophomore Valtorrey Showers, who has “Been coming along in the past few weeks.”

Junior Jeremy Wilson and sophomore Jerry Harris will also be competing for receptions.

“We’re filling shoes from the other guys that left,” Torres said. “And we’re going to be ready by the time the lights come on.”

CMU secondary confident heading into new season

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 01, 2010

If football is a game won between the ears, rather than between the lines as some suggest, then the Central Michigan secondary is already winning.

“We have a lot of confidence back there,” said sophomore defensive back Jahleel Addae. “Defense is a mentality, that’s all it is.”

And if Addae’s words ring true, the Chippewas’ secondary is going to have one mean mentality.

“We want to be labeled as big hitters,” he continued. “When the ball is in the air, go get the ball and put fear into the receiver’s hearts and then showcase our passion for the game on the field.”

It’s that kind of passion that has Addae, who played on special teams in all 14 games last season, entering this season as a key component in a secondary that lost significant manpower over the offseason.

Gone is cornerback Josh Gordy, who signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Also gone from the defensive backfield are Tommy Mama, Eric Fraser, Kirkston Edwards and D.J. Scott.

And with the combination of a strong defensive line and one-two punch at linebacker with seniors Nick Bellore and Matt Berning, CMU’s cornerbacks and safeties are sure to get tested in 2010.

“It’s more motivation,” said senior cornerback Vince Agnew, one of the leader of the team’s secondary. “We can’t plateau. Every year needs to peak better than the year before.”

Agnew, who was named defensive MVP in last January’s GMAC Bowl after blocking a Troy field goal attempt in the second overtime, recorded 35 tackles last season.

“We have a whole new swagger in the core,” Agnew said. “And we plan on bringing that every single game.”
Opposite Agnew will be fellow senior Bobby Seay, who finished fourth on the team in tackles last year, and recorded 11 in the GMAC Bowl victory.

Also figuring to find time in the secondary are sophomores Lorenzo White and LaVarus Williams, as well as Cincinnati freshman Avery Cunningham, who has performed well in the spring at safety.

“It’s like studying for a test,” Addae said. “We have to come in during the week, prepare for the team and come out and execute. Whenever the test comes, you have to pass it.”

And in passing, the unit looks to do some intimidating.

“We’re out ready,” he said. “Like a bunch of raging dogs ready to take whatever’s ours.”