The Central Michigan Chippewas were poised to pull off the upset victory in the Big House last Saturday. While knocking off the no. 17 Michigan Wolverines would have been a shocking upset, the Chippewas did not count on returning back home without their starting quarterback and star running back.
Junior quarterback Cody Kater and senior running back Zurlon Tipton were both injured in the 59-9 loss against the Wolverines and have Chippewas head coach Dan Enos searching for answers on offense.
Last season, Kater spent all of last season backing up former starting quarterback Ryan Radcliff. Kater only attempted four passes in 2012 and was being groomed to handle the play calling this season. Tipton, on the other hand, was the workhorse for the Chippewas. Last season, Tipton rushed for 1,492 yards and had 19 touchdowns on the ground.
Tipton was instrumental in helping the Chippewas average 28.8 points per game on offense in 2012.
With both players hurt during the first quarter against the Wolverines, the Chippewas struggled to find their offensive rhythm . The Chippewas managed 210 total yards for the game and converted on 4-of-14 third-down conversions.
The fate of the Chippewas with this week’s opponent , the New Hampshire Wildcats, will rest on the shoulders of two sophomores: quarterback Alex Niznak, who came on in relief of Kater, and running back Saylor Lavallii, who stepped in for Tipton. Niznak struggled against the Wolverines defense. He completed on 11 of 22 passes for 131 yards and one interception. Lavallii rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries.
The Chippewas will need both players to step up this week against a New Hampshire team that will be looking for the upset. Central Michigan cannot take New Hampshire for granted this weekend. The Chippewas cannot expect to just walk out on the field and get the victory. New Hampshire has an explosive offense that averaged 34 points per game in 2012.
New Hampshire has a solid quarterback in sophomore Sean Goldrich. Goldrich started six games and completed 59.4 percent of his passes in 2012. The Wildcats have an explosive wide receiver in junior R.J. Harris. Harris hauled in 84 receptions for 1,059 yards in 2012. This could spell trouble for a Central Michigan defense that gave up 463 total yards to the Wolverines last week.