Chippewa Football Heading in the Right Direction

MOUNT PLEASANT - Brian Kelly is encouraged by the progress of the Central Michigan University football team in his first year as the Chippewa mentor.

"Some of the most positive changes are not visible on the field yet," said Kelly. "We changed a lot of things off-the-field, things that you're not able to see. We developed an attitude of playing hard on every play, in every quarter and in every game.

"We also went a long way in developing a belief that we can beat anybody in this league, and I don't think these players felt that way in the past."

The Chippewas finished the 2004 campaign with a 4-7 overall mark and 3-5 slate in the Mid-American Conference -- a marked improvement over the 2003 team which was 3-8 for the season and 1-7 in conference action.

While Kelly would have liked more wins, he did see progress on the field, too.

"Tangibly, we developed a quarterback in Kent Smith which is crucial to our future success," Kelly said. "He has a better understanding of our offense and he's only going to get better.

"We also played a lot of young players on defense and the future is bright there, too.

"Plus, we have Jerry Seymour back and a group of developing wide receivers."

All is not rosy, however, for the Chippewas who lose 13 seniors off this year's team: Grant Arnoldink, William Brookshire, Omari Colen, Eric Ghiaciuc, Tory Humphrey, Adam Kieft, Richard Kiel, James King, Dave Kurzen, Jonathon Nelson, Josh Reardon, Mike Thomas and Anthony Tyus Jr.

"We have a lot of weaknesses and things to work on," Kelly said. "We need to hit recruiting hard and then show great progress in our player development."

Next up for the Chippewas will be Indiana University to open the 2005 season. The game will be at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on a date to be decided over the Labor Day weekend.

Smith Reaches Record Books

Kent Smith finished his first season as a starting quarterback for Central Michigan with his name in the top four in five single-season categories.

The 6-5, 210-pound junior, who led CMU to a pair of incredible comeback wins over Western Michigan (24-21 in overtime) and Ball State (41-40), had one of most productive seasons in Chippewa history.

Following are his season rankings following the 2004 campaign:

•2nd in total offense (2,635)

•2nd in completions (188)

•2nd in passes attempted (333)

•4th in TD passes (16)

•4th in yards passing (2,284)

Not bad for someone who didn't play a down in 2003.

Among his other accomplishments this season, Smith tied a 75-year-old record with five TD passes in the 61-58 four-overtime loss to Eastern Michigan. He also ran for two more and accounted for 44 points.

`Bam Bam' Hits 1,000

Jerry "Bam Bam" Seymour, a first team Freshman All-America by The Sporting News in 2003 after gaining a CMU freshman record 1,117 yards. has broken the 1,000-yard barrier for the second straight season.

The 5-6, 190-pound sophomore gained 1,284 yards in 262 carries after rolling for 217 yards against Ball State. The 1,284 yards are the 10th most ever in a season for a Chippewa back.

In addition, his 262 carries are ninth most and his 47 receptions are tied for ninth.

He has 14 100-yard games in 20 career games, seven of them each season.

Seymour Can Catch, Too

Jerry Seymour is not only CMU's leading rusher but he's also its top receiver with 47 grabs for 413 yards. The 47 catches are tied for ninth most in school annals and the most ever by a Chippewa back.

King Racks Up Tackles

Senior linebacker James King, known for his school-record 13 career blocked kicks, finished his career with the third most tackles in school history with 408.

He had 79 stops in 2004.

Block Party

Blocking kicks became contagious in 2004 with the Chippewas blocking a school-record 12 kicks, including three in each of the last two games.

Sophomore Daniel Bazuin finished with the second most in school annals with four while James King had the third most with three.Junior Jason Smith added two with senior Adam Kieft, sophomore Doug Kress and redshirt freshman Leython Williams each getting one.

Linson in the Books

Sophomore Damien Linson's seven TD grabs this season are tied for the fifth most in school history.

Harper in the Books, Too

Junior Justin Harper is fifth in career receptions with 103 after catching 39 passes for 526 yards and five TDs this fall. His 1,137 career receiving yards are just outside the top 10.

Young Defensive Whiz

Redshirt freshman linebacker Thomas Keith (6-1, 226 pounds) led CMU in tackles with 95 including 12 against EMU, 11 against Ball State and10 at MSU.

Keith led the Chippewas in fumbles forced (two) and tied for second in tackles for loss (eight for 22 yards) and pass breakups (seven).

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