Chippewas Prepare for MAC Football Opener

MOUNT PLEASANT - Central Michigan University looks to get the 2004 Mid-American Conference football season off on the right foot this Saturday when it hosts Kent State University. Kickoff in Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Hall of Fame Day will be 1 p.m.

The Kent State Golden Flashes got a head start into the MAC season on Thursday, Sept. 23, with a 24-19 loss at home to Akron and stand 1-3 for the season.

Central Michigan was idle last Saturday after posting its first win of the season on Sept. 18 -- a 44-27 home nod over Southeast Missouri State University. The Chippewas are 1-2 overall.

"Kent State presents a number of big problems," said CMU head coach Brian Kelly. "Josh Cribbs is a game breaker at quarterback. He has the ability to take a game over and there are not that many players in the MAC who can do that.

"His running ability causes a defense to make adjustments it doesn't normally have to make."

Kelly was also impressed with the Golden Flash defense.

"Kent State plays a 3-4 which has some uniqueness and is extremely physical. Iowa and Rutgers tried to slug it out with Kent, and Kent hung right in there. Eric Mahl is the leader of that defense at middle linebacker and he's a good one.

"Kent is very big and talented at the linebacker position."

The Chippewas made good use of their week off.

"We gave the players some time off and we got some good things done when we practiced," Kelly said.

"Early in the week, we worked on individual technique and fundamentals. We also had a lively scrimmage with our young players.

"We spent one whole day on special teams and then we had a day to get a head start on Kent State. It was a productive week."

Saturday's battle with Kent State marks the first of eight straight MAC games. Following KSU, CMU will entertain Bowling Green (Oct. 9) in a Homecoming game at 1 p.m.

The Coaches

Central Michigan -- Brian Kelly (Assumption, 1983). Career record: 119-37-2 (13th year). CMU record: 1-2, first year.

Kent State -- Doug Martin (Kentucky, 1985). Career record: 1-3. Kent State record: same.

The Series

CMU holds a 20-9 lead in the all-time series between the two MAC rivals.

Kent State won the last meeting, 24-21 in 2000 in Mount Pleasant and has won two of the last three. The Golden Flashes also won at home in 1997 by a 60-37 margin to end a streak of nine straight Chippewa wins.

CMU's last triumph came at home in 1998 by a 46-7 margin.

Scouting Kent State

The Golden Flashes have lost two in a row to Rutgers (29-10) and Akron (24-19) after picking up a 38-10 win over Liberty in the second game of the season.

Kent State is 1-3 under new head coach Doug Martin, opening the season with a 39-7 loss at Iowa.

KSU is ninth in total offense (296.5) and second in total defense (329.0) in the MAC. The Golden Flashes are third in pass defense (187.8) and fourth in rush defense (141.2).

Cribbs is second in total offense (291.3), fourth in rushing (80.0) and sixth in passing (211.3).

Darrell Dowery leads the MAC in receptions (8.25)and is tied for fifth in receiving yards (75.2).

LB Eric Mahl fourth in tackles (10.5) with one QB sack.

Chippewa Training Room

Eric Tunney (defensive tackle), out indefinitely with a leg injury.

Brandon Zukoff (offensive tackle), has been sidelined wiuth a leg injury but should return this week.

Streak Ends for `Bam Bam'

Jerry "Bam Bam" Seymour had his streak of seven straight 100-yard games come to an end in the win over SEMO.

Nursing a hip injury, Seymour tried to play but gained just one yard in two carries and did not see action from early in the first period one. He practiced last week and should be ready for KSU.

The 5-6, 190-pounder finished the 2003 season with five straight 100-yard games and collected more than 100 yards in the first two games in 2004 -- bagging 111 in 21 carriers at Indiana and 164 in 26 at Michigan State.

Seymour broke the coveted 100-yard barrier in seven games in 2003 and has nine in 12 games in his career.

Seymour, with career highs in yards (207) and rushes (36) in a win over Eastern Michigan in 2003, was named first team Freshman All-America by The Sporting News. He was a second team All-MAC pick.

Below are his 100-yard outings:


•New Hampshire 166 in 27

•E. Kentucky 116 in 25

•UCF 114 in 17

•EMU 207 in 36

•Akron 105 in 19

•WMU 162 in 27

Navy 154 in 33


•Indiana 111 in 21

•Michigan State 164 in 26

Spencer's Ready

Spencer Lewis showed that he was more than a capable backup to Jerry Seymour when he rushed for 134 yards in 28 carries in the win over SEMO.

Lewis bettered his career totals in that game. He had rushed 18 times for 71 yards in 2002 and 10 for 16 in 2003. Prior to the SEMO outing, he'd carried eight times for 30 yards.

Lewis also caught four passes for 63 yards -- one a 53-yarder.

It's Kent's Job

Junior quarterback Kent Smith appears to have won the battle at quarterback after a career game in a 44-27 win over Southeast Missouri.

In fact, senior Grant Arnoldink, who started at Indiana in the season opener, worked some at tight end last week because of injuries to tight ends Tory Humphrey and Troy Peyerk.

"We moved a number of players around last week to see if they could help us more at different positions," head coach Brian Kelly explained. "Grant could help us at tight end if we needed. He picked it up quickly."

Smith started at Michigan State and completed 10-of-30 passes for 93 yards. He also rushed nine times for 52 yards.

He then completed 17-of-30 passes for 303 yards and two TDs against SEMO and rushed for 29 yards on seven carries and scored two more TDs.

Arnoldink started at Indiana and completed 13-of-26 passes for 127 yards and two interceptions -- one returned 96 yards for a TD.

Smith finished the game and was true on 10-of-17 for 148 yards and a TD pass.

Smith lettered in 2002 but did not play last fall. He completed 10-of-32 passes that season for 96 yards and a TD and ran for 106 more and another score.

Smith's start at Michigan State was his first since the final game of the 2002 season when CMU lost a 35-10 home decision to WMU.

If Arnoldink does move to tight end, moving into a backup role would be redshirt freshman Nick Gildersleeve.

King Eyes Record

Senior linebacker James King has his sights set on setting a CMU career record for tackles.

The converted safety had 143 stops in 2003, tied for 10th in the country with 11.92 per game. He is seventh all-time at CMU with 337 -- 150 away Brian Leigeb's school mark of 486.

He has been credited with 11 stops in the first three games. Here's who is ahead of King:

1. Brian Leigeb (1997-00), 486
2. Ray Bentley (1979-82), 443

3. Rich Curtiss (1987-90), 402

4. Bryan Gross (1976-78), 396

5. Mike Bevier (1980-84), 352

Shawn Williams (1995-99), 352

7. James King (2001-), 340

Block Specialist Strikes Again

James King collected the 11th blocked kick of his career in the win over SEMO -- an extra point in the second period.

He is the current national leader in Division I football for blocked kicks, eight of them coming as a redshirt freshman in 2001. King blocked four punts at Michigan State in '01.

He blocked two kicks in 2002 but did not get one in 2003.

The career record is 19 by New Mexico State's James Ferebee.

Veteran O-Line

CMU finished third in the MAC in rushing with 195.8 yards per game in 2003. Four of the five starters return, and the five combine for 99 career starts.

Anchoring the line is 6-7, 328-pound senior left tackle Adam Kieft, a four-year starter with 34 career starts to his credit.

The other senior on the line is 6-3, 294-pound center Eric Ghiaciuc, a three-year starter who has 27 straight straights.

Junior guard Jeff Jenerou, a 6-7, 308-pounder, started nine games in 2003 at tackle (16 total) while sophomore guard Drew Mormino, a 6-4, 287-pounder, started all 12 games in 2003 and has 15 in a row.

The lone newcomer is 6-5, 275-pound right tackle Joe Staley who caught 11 passes for 130 yards as a true freshman tight end in 2003. He started four games at tight end and now has seven.

Youth Movement

The youth movement continues for the Chippewas. After playing 29 underclassmen in the 41-10 loss at Indiana, CMU played 25 in a 24-7 setback at Michigan State and 30 in the 44-27 win over SEMO.

First-year players seeing action in all three games were defensive tackles Steven Friend and Eugene Rauls, cornerbacks Raeshon Ball and Ronnie Jackson, and wide receiver Asante White.

White has returned three kickoffs for an average of 37.3 yards and has one pass reception for six yards.

Jackson has been credited with four tackles, three solo, and Friend has two solo stops. Friend has started the past two games.

Young Defensive Whizes

Two new defenders have played well for the Chippewas this fall.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Thomas Keith (6-1, 226 pounds) leads CMU in tackles with 28 including 10 at MSU. He also has a team-high two and one-half tackles for loss and forced a fumble at Indiana.

Sophomore free safety Isaac Brown, a converted tailback, has 12 solo and eight assisted tackles for a total of 20.

The hard-hitting 6-1, 199-pounder also has forced a fumble.

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