Maybe or maybe not. Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego told me in an interview the other day that he kept offensive coordinator Morris Watts because of the return of three-year starter Cooper Rush at quarterback and the desire to keep the offense consistent. Now, that could be absolutely correct or it could be a slight case of coach speak and a little first-year head coach chicanery.
My guess is it is neither as the Oklahoma State defenders from defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah to linebackers Ryan Simmons and Devante Averette to cornerback Kevin Peterson all said they had noticed the quarterback under center a lot and the power and play-action game that the Chippewas employ.
"I love going against that very offense, my favorite offense to go against," senior middle linebacker Ryan Simmons said.
Defensive coordinator @Glenn Spencer isn't so sure. He preaches to be ready for anything.
"Just question marks because you never know until you kick it off," Spencer said. "All you’ve done is practice against yourself. And (Central Michigan) having a new coach, we really just can’t go 100 percent off film from what you’ve seen last year. So that’s the biggest question.
"We’re always uneasy about the first game. On our side of the ball you could get any formation, you could get anything. They haven’t shown what their favorites are. It’s nerve-racking."
You also know that you will get herculean effort out of Central Michigan as it is only the fifth time they have hosted a Power Five conference team at home at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. They are 0-4 in the previous games with the last coming in 2006, a 31-24 loss to Boston College. Add to that the process of seeing their coach go through cancer treatments through the summer and fall camp and Spencer knows the Cowboys will get their best.
"They’re never out of a ballgame, at least they’ve shown that in the past," Spencer said. "You always think you are going to get a team's best but when they've experienced something as emotional as seeing your coach go through treatments for cancer then yes, that is going to heighten their efforts. So they’re used to coming back and used to not getting down when things go bad. They’ve moved the ball against a lot of good defenses this past year, and a lot of those kids are back."
Spencer is also careful about handing out any compliments before the first game is in the books. On the defense's speed, he preached he's seen a lot of fast players that didn't have that all out desire to get to the football and that he's seen some players not so fast but with that desire come off looking pretty fast. Point taken, but this defense is fast and the desire certainly appears to be part of their makeup.
There is also the advantage of depth, and that will come in handy as opposed to a year ago players should not be stuck out on the field pulling more duty than necessary and compromising the defensive effort.
"Only 11 of them can be on the field at one time. If we have a situation where we have to rely on depth more than the standard rotation, you’re more concerned with it," said Spencer, again being the conservative coordinator and not wanting to show his hand. "But right now you’re worried about those 11 on the field. There are a couple of spots now where if you get an ankle tweak or a shoulder banged up, maybe there are a lot of positions where there’s a huge drop off like there was in the past."
Spencer is going to be conservative for now and leave hype up to people in my business. I'd like to think that here in a few weeks and throughout the season the talk of the defense and players like Ogbah, Simmons, Bean, Burton, Jacobs, Peterson, and Sterns won't be seen as hype.