Saturday, August 21, 2010

CMU Intersquad Scrimmage Report

The CMU football team wrapped up training camp with a team scrimmage on Saturday. The offense struggled early but came on late and here is a breakdown of each series and situation. Enos and his staff paired up the first team offense against the second team defense and vice-versa.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Ryan Radcliff had a first down pass to Kito Poblah and the offense got to midfield before the drive died out. Kenny McClendon had a sack to end the drive.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Avery Cunningham had an interception of Radcliff on a deep ball to Matt Torres. It was solid coverage and a good pick. The pass was a little under thrown.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Derek Rifenbury was quarterback and the unit went 3 & Out.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Rifenbury had a first down run and got the ball to midfield before Nick Bellore had an interception that was set up by a strong pass rush from Matt Berning.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Landon Carter had a nice play where he cut in front of a pass from Radcliff to David Blackburn, he just couldn't finish the interception. The series ended when Paris Cotton fumbled on a run and Darryll Stinson recovered.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Carl Volny had a pair of nice runs early and CMU got the ball to the visitor 39-yard line before the drive died out. Will Schwarz had a sack to aid the defense.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Brandon Fricke was the quarterback and he opened with a 9-yard pass to Jordan McConnell and then Zurlon Tipton had a short first down. The drive ended when Fricke fumbled the snap and Caesar Rodriguez recovered.

1&10 at the CMU 33-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Fricke had a 14-yard pass to Jerry Harris and then followed up with a first down pass to Kito Poblah. Davon Muse added a nice little run and Fricke also found Taylor Bradley for a decent gain before the offense settled for a 41-yard field goal from Paul Mudgett. The best drive of the day to this point.

1&10 at the Vistor 49-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Cotton started things off with an 8-yard run and then Radcliff hit Cedric Fraser on a 24-yard pass. Cotton got CMU down to the one before Volny scored a touchdown on a 1-yard plunge on third and goal.

1&10 at the Visitor 49-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Derek Rifenbury had an 11-yard screen pass to Tipton get the unit a first down, but nothing else happened. John Williams had a sack to help kill the drive.

1&10 at the Visitor 49-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Fricke had a nice run for a first down but the drive ended with an interception from Dannie Bolden after Fricke threw one up to Torres and the ball sailed in the air too long.

1&10 at the Visitor 49-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-The offense quickly got to the 12-yard line after a pass to Volny went for a long gain. Jerry Harris dropped a touchdown pass from Radcliff, but the offense still scored as Radcliff found Volny for a 6-yard touchdown pass.

1&10 at the Visitor 49-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-The offense got to the 33-yard line but settled for a 46-yard field goal attempt, which was wide left.

1&10 at the CMU 40-yard line (3rd Team Off/3rd Team Def)
-The third units got some action here. A.J. Westendorp was quarterback and the unit went 3 & Out. Ben Brown was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by Leterrius Walton on the final play.

1&10 at the CMU 3-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-This was a 3 & Out as the offense didn't go for it on fourth and inches.

1&10 at the CMU 3-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Tipton broke out with a 70-yard touchdown run for the top offensive play of the game. He busted through the front line and then showed break away speed in the open field. An impressive run for Tipton.

1&10 at the Visitor 21-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Leron Eaddy and Stinson each had a sack on defense but Radcliff hit Cody Wilson on a 13-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone.

1&10 at the Visitor 21-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Tipton had another solid touchdown run in this drive, this one was 10-yards long.

1&10 at the 50-yard line (3rd Team Off/3rd Team Def)
-The offense moved the chains once but sacks by Joe Wirth and Will Schwarz ended the drive.

1&10 at the Visitor 46-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Cunningham had a nice pass deflection on a pass to Kito Poblah. Radcliff waited too long to release the ball, allowing Cunningham to make a nice break on the pass. Radcliff rebounded and found Cody Wilson over the middle for a big gain and then Volny scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run.

1&10 at the CMU 46-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-Fricke opened the drive with a nice 15-yard pass to McConnell and then found Harris on a slant pass that got the ball to the 26-yard line. David Harman attempted a 41-yard field goal, but missed it wide left.

1&10 at the CMU 34-yard line (1st Team Off/2nd Team Def)
-Radcliff hit Cody Wilson on a 39-yard pass to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Volny. The whole drive took just three plays.

1&10 at the CMU 34-yard line (2nd Team Off/1st Team Def)
-This drive didn't amount to much. Kashawn Fraser had sacks on the final two plays to wrap up the scrimmage.

Overall I thought the defense looked better, but the offense got progressively better. Radcliff settled in and made some nice plays but he still makes some mistakes that you would expect him to make. I thought Tipton was the best player on offense. He has a unique combination of size and speed that is perfect for this offense. It is too bad he will miss the first two games. On defense, I thought Cunningham looked good as well as a number of the defensive ends. The defense is showing it has some good depth.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tipton suspended two games

I have just received word that running back Zurlon Tipton has been suspended for the first two games of the 2010 season due to a violation of team rules.

Dan Enos released the following statement on the matter:

"Due to a violation of team rules, redshirt-freshman running back Zurlon Tipton has been suspended for the first two games of the 2010 football season. Student-athletes at Central Michigan University are held to the highest expectation of accountability and responsibility. We will continually evaluate Zurlon’s contributions to the CMU football program in the community, in the classroom and on the playing field. He will continue to practice with the team during the suspension."

For what it's worth, I understand the incident causing the suspension happened prior to training camp and didn't just develop. That would explain why he started the training camp deep on the depth chart. Not a great start for Tipton.

A Sad Note

I appreciate all the comments I have received over the last week about my coverage of CMU training camp. I am glad I can bring some insight on the 2010 Chippewas to you. I just wanted to mention I won't have any news or stories for a few days as my grandmother, Jane Ellis, passed away last night.

I debated whether I would even make mention of it, but I at least wanted to acknowledge what a great and loving person she was. Going to my grandmother's house was often like a trip to Cedar Point. She always had something for us and knew how to keep us entertained, not to mention, she made the best Jell-O I have ever and will ever have. I love her and will miss her dearly.

I am going to take the next few days to remember my grandma and the good times we had and will return to covering my beat this weekend.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CMU Fall Practice Day 5 Notes

Today marked the first practice that the Chippewas were in full pads and there was plenty of hitting going on. Not a lot of roster notes to report on. Joe Sawicki was in a red jersey today, and hobbled on crutches, but still suited up in full pads, so hopefully his injury isn't too serious.

Here are some other notes from practice:
-Brett Hartmann has a strong leg and during practice he was able to punt the ball 60 yards from his spot a number of times. The key for him this year will be consistency. Many times throughout past seasons, we have seen him shank punts at the wrong time and CMU can't afford that this year.
-Sean Murnane continues to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback during drills. I thought maybe that had something to do with limited contact in practices prior to today, but it continued with full pads on. He has been a beast in the last week. My concern with him is that his body seems to be put together with tape and glue due to his previous injuries. I just hope he can stay healthy for his senior season.
-Dannie Bolden had some early highlights as he put a big hit on Reggie Brown after a long pass from Brandon Fricke and he also intercepted a Fricke pass on a nice play, but I suspect the interception came because of a missed route assignment by tight end Connor Odykirk.
-Dan Enos set up a third and short situation for the team to compete in and the defense won eight of the 11 snaps. There were a couple of fumbled snaps by the quarterbacks in that stretch and a few false starts as well. The defense really created a lot of push on the front line.
-Enos then set up a first and goal from the 3-yard line scenario and the offense went 6-for-6 in that. The first possession came down to fourth and goal from the two before Carl Volny blasted his way into the end zone. Volny and Zurlon Tipton had the best success in this drill, as they are the biggest running backs. Freshmen backs Ben Brown and Kevin King also scored in the drill.
-The final few minutes of practice had the offense and defense start at the home 30-yard line with the offense trying to drive the field. The first team struggled on offense except for a short pass to Matt Torres that he took for a long gain, which set up a 40-yard field goal attempt by freshman Paul Mudgett, which he missed wide right. Vince Agnew also had a sack during that series and he has had a good but quiet week.
-The third team then stepped on the field to end the day and they turned the ball over on downs on a 4th & 11 situation at about the 25-yard line. On the final play, Anthony Hollis broke up a pass in the end zone from Fricker to Valtorrey Showers. Leterrius Walton blew up a running play for a highlight in the series.
-Aaron Kaczmarski injured his left knee during the first team series, he attempted to keep going but couldn't put enough weight on his leg. The injury ended his day, but didn't seem to be too serious.

That is it for the day. I will be taking the next few practices off to focus on other assignments, mainly high school football. There is a scrimmage set up for Saturday that I will attend and provide notes for when it is done. As always, thanks for reading.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

CMU Fall Practice Day 4 Notes

Again, not much new to report today. The team will be in full pads on Tuesday, so I may get a better feel for who is coming along. Here are my observations:

-First, freshman tight end Joe Sawicki got rolled up on during drills and injured his left knee. I don't know the severity, but he did walk off the practice field on his own power at the end of the day.
-I tried to focus a little on special teams today, so here are some notes on that. Richie Hogan is the backup punter as of now and Brett Hartmann looks to be the primary kickoff specialist.
-In terms of return men, the following guys were working on fielding punts during practice: Taylor Bradley, Paris Cotton, Davon Muse, Lorenzo White, Valtorrey Showers, Vince Agnew, Zurlon Tipton, Cody Wilson, Billy Myler, Jahleel Addae, and Carl Volny. I would think Bradley would be an ideal return man because of his speed and quickness, but I am not sure who Enos will use to returns kicks and punts as of now.
-In terms of injuries, the following offensive linemen are still limited contact in practice: Zach Wiersma, Darren Keyton, Jake Olson, Jeff Maddux, Jon Czerwienski, and Matt Kanitz. All take part in practice, but once the offense vs. defense drills start, they sit out. None of the injuries are serious or should keep them out for the first game.
-Also on an injury note, A.J. Westendorp was out of his boot today for his ankle injury. He still has a brace on the foot, but it seems to be improving.
-Cedric Fraser sat out of practice again today as did Daniel Jackson, Leron Eaddy, and Jake Bentley, along with a pair of tight ends.
-During the actual drills and practice, Bobby Seay had a nice interception of Radcliff during the two-minute drill. Seay made a perfect safety read and got the pick.
-Today I really started to focus on Radcliff and how he progresses through his reads. It seems like, as of now, he locks on to a primary receiver and struggles with the play when that receiver isn't open. He also forces some passes to his first read but there are also times where he goes through his reads and does a nice job. I think it will just be a work in progress early on. He just needs to try and manage the offense in the first four games of the season.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

CMU Fall Practice Day 3 Notes

Not too much to report on today. The guys put on shoulder pads for the first time and got in some physical drills. Most involved linebackers and linemen against the offensive line and tight ends. In those drills, freshman Leterrius Walton did a nice job of moving guys around. He really has good strength and just needs to gain experience.

Here are other notes from the day:
-Cedric Fraser sat out of practice. Not sure he has an injury, he had a water bottle at all times, so it may have been for dehydration.
-The running backs are struggling in the passing game as they have dropped a lot of passes over the last three days.
-Speaking of running backs, Paris Cotton is getting first team snaps now and seems to be showing he is the best of the bunch, but I still think the team will go RB by committee.
-During 11-on-11 drills, the defensive line was able to create a lot of pressure, but that may be because three OL starters are sitting out of contact drills as of now.
-Along with Cotton, Taylor Bradley and even freshman Joe Sawicki at tight end are getting some snaps with the first team.
-Bobby Seay had a pick six during team drills on Radcliff as he cut in front of Kito Poblah to make the interception. It was a nice play by Seay.
-Armond Staten had a nice jumping interception on Brandon Fricke. The pass was under thrown and Staten made a nice adjustment to make the INT.
-During field goal practice, Seay and Joe Wirth each blocked a kick attempt. Seay's was very impressive and similar to what Agnew did in the GMAC Bowl last season.
-In the kicking game, both Richie Hogan and Paul Mudgett made field goals of over 40 yards. But, both also missed shorter kicks. I suspect the kicking game will be very hit-and-miss this year.
-Of three days of camp, it would be hard to argue that David Blackburn hasn't looked the best. He has made nice catches in the passing game and has done well in blocking drills. He actually made blocking Matt Berning look easy during 1-on-1's today.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

CMU Fall Practice Day 2 Notes

Alright I made it a point to figure out who was taking snaps where on defense today. First, Daniel Jackson was out of practice with an ankle injury. He stepped on a teammate during drills on Friday. Not sure how severe the injury is, but wouldn't expect him back right away.

Okay, the first team defense is Left End: Darryll Stinson; Defensive Tackles: Sean Murnane and John Williams; Right End: Kashawn Fraser; Will LB: Matt Berning; Mike LB: Nick Bellore; Sam LB: Alex Smith; Left CB: Vince Agnew; Right CB: Lorenzo White; Safeties: Jahleel Addae and Bobby Seay.

The second team defense is Left End: Joe Kinville; Defensive Tackles: Odino Etienne and Steve Winston (Jackson in here probably); Right End: Caesar Rodriguez; Will LB: Shamari Benton; Mike LB: Mike Petrucci; Sam LB: Armond Staten; Left CB: Anthony Hollis; Right CB: Lavarus Williams; Safeties: Dannie Bolden and John Carr.

There really isn't enough bodies to put an entire third team unit together. I would expect to see all of the defensive linemen cycle in and out during the season and in most nickel packages, Bolden came in for the first team to play the third corner position.

Here are some observations and notes:
-While Taylor Bradley has the coaches praise, right now Matt Torres is with the first team and he made some nice catches in traffic during 11-on-11 drills.
-The quarterbacks threw the ball down field a lot during drills and Derek Rifenbury had a few nice passes to Bradley. Rifenbury looked better to me today than yesterday and seemed to have more confidence.
-Bradley has a lot of speed and agility. He made a nice move on Lavarus Williams on a short pass to break into open field. I think Bradley will be a huge asset in the passing game this year.
-The staff continues to use David Blackburn down field in the passing game. I think he will have a really big year if he stays healthy. The MAC has been notorious for struggling to cover athletic tight ends that can stretch the field.
-One interesting note was there were some frustrations from the defensive line during 11-on-11's and DL line coach Tim Daoust encouraged his guys to talk it out with the rest of the first team defense. They did just that and performed better the next series. I think it is good to have the players take some responsibility with their performance and not just blame other teammates and sulk.
-The kicking game looks to be a little touchy but Richie Hogan does indeed look to be the starter. Freshmen Paul Mudgett and Connor Gagnon also are in the mix, but Hogan seems to be the most consistent.
-On a sad note, don't expect to see Tim Phillips much if at all this season. I guess his arm injury is pretty serious and will have him out a while. The positive in that is that he does have a redshirt year available, so if he is to miss the whole season, he wouldn't lose a year of eligibility.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

2010 Training Camp: Practice 1 Notes

Today is always an exciting day for football fans and for myself as well as it was the first day of fall practice for the Central Michigan football team. There are plenty of great story lines heading in and things to talk about. Here are my notes and thoughts on day 1:

Depth Chart Breakdown:
This is how the team was paired up during non-contact drills on Friday.
First Team Offense: QB - Ryan Radcliff; RB - Carl Volny, WR - Kito Poblah, Matt Torres, Cody Wilson; TE - David Blackburn; OL (Left to Right) Jake Olson, Jeff Maddux, Colin Miller, Darren Keyton, Rocky Weaver.
Second Team Offense: QB - Derek Rifenbury; RB - Paris Cotton; WR - Cedric Fraser, Jeremy Wilson, Taylor Bradley; TE - Jarrett Fleming; OL - Mike Repovz, Aaron Kaczmarksi, Richard Hayes, Eric Fisher, Jeff Fantuzzi.
Third Team Offense: QB - Brandon Fricke; RB - Davon Muse; WR - Jordan McConnell, Reggie Brown, Jerry Harris; TE - Joe Sawicki; OL - Zach Wiersma, Aaron McCord, Nick Reynolds, Jon Czerwienski, Adam Schneid.

First Team Defense: DL (Left to Right) - Kashawn Fraser, John Williams, Sean Murnane, Darryll Stinson; LB - (Left to Right) - Nick Bellore, Matt Berning, Alex Smith; CB - Vince Agnew, Lorenzo White; S - Jahleel Addae, Bobby Seay.
Second Team Defense: DL - The DL kept shuffling but Rodriguez and Jackson got steady reps; LB - Shamari Benton, Mike Petrucci, Armond Staten; CB - Lavarus Williams, Anthony Hollis; S - John Carr, Tyler Lombardo.
(Today I focused mostly on offense, I will provide a better defensive depth chart tomorrow)

Other Notes and Observations:
- Eric Fisher did get a lot of snaps at guard, even with the first team during contact drills for guys who couldn't go 100 percent. This is a move to get Fisher on the field either this year or in future years since Weaver and Olson have he tackle spots locked in for years to come.
- Fleming has been moved primarily to tight end. It should be interesting to see how he progresses.
- A.J. Westendorp, Jake Bentley, and Leron Eaddy were in the red jerseys while Tim Phillips was completely out of practice with a left arm injury. I don't know the severity of the injury.
- For those concerned about the offense, it really does look similar in style to past seasons, just under center and more tight end involvement. I think the offense will be fine from an X's & O's perspective, it will just be up to the players to execute.
- In terms of the QB's, Radcliff looked solid, but I think he will be more of a gunslinger that will look to make tight throws. I expect him to have more interceptions than the average quarterback, but also make some very tough throws.
- Derek Rifenbury didn't look good. He struggled with a lot of easy, short throws. Fricke threw a nice ball but struggled with the snaps and handoffs a little bit. The freshman, Kyle Smith, had a little too much loft to his ball.
- Addae looks like he will be a play maker. He had a nice interception during 11-on-11's and he just seems to get to the ball.
- The defensive ends surprisingly had a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but I think that may have been due to limited contact and no pads during the drills.
- Repovz was at Left Tackle during contact drills as Olson sat out with Fisher again being used at guard.

Overall, I thought the practice had a lot of life and energy and Enos and his staff are more laid back than Butch Jones and his staff. Not saying whether it is better or worse, it is just a different feel.

I will have more updates tomorrow.

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