A post inspired but FalconBlog's weekly 25 questions.
Where are the Chips at:
After a year in the shadow of Ball State the Chips are right back up at the top. Their last losing season was in 2004 and since then they are an incredible 35-21 (.761) nobody in the MAC is even close to that record over the same period. This year they have about the best defense that Jones has ever put on the field at Mount Pleasant, which, when complimenting Dan LeFevour and the Chips offense is a scary thought for teams on their schedule this year.
Last Seasons High Point:
Brian Brunner was the Jim Sorgi of MAC Players. For those of you who don't know Jim Sorgi is the backup for Peyton Manning and among many his name has become synonymous with steady and safe backup work (so much so that the Onion even took a shot at him). Brian Brunner spent the last three years of his college football career backing up Dan LeFevour. Last season when LeFevour left the game against Temple Brunner came in and finished off the Owls. The following game he carved up WMU for nearly 350 yards and the Chips never trailed as they beat their instate conference rivals.
Last Seasons Low Point:
Losing to Ball State in a game they should have won. After blowing a fourth quarter lead Central Michigan the Chips were never the same team losing to EMU the final week of the season and the FIU in the Motor City Bowl.
Do they take care of the Ball?
Yes, they are averaging one turnover a game, four for the year, with two of those coming against a very good Arizona Defense. Lefevour is the anchor of both their passing and running game, he takes care of the ball, ergo they don't give it away too much.
How is their Passing Offense?
Deadly, LeFevour is an amazing passer for a 'dual threat' quarterback and is breaking MAC records left and right. He has a better that 50-50 chance of breaking Leftwich's all time passing yards record this year (he is already the the record holder for most yards from scrimmage). Missing parts, or all, of four games last year did not keep him under 2,500 yards and in years when he has been healthy he passes for 3,500+ yards.
How is their Rushing Offense?
On the back of LeFevour they are a very strong rushing team. They average better than 160 yards a game, behind only NIU. Carl Volny, Their halfback, may have fewer yards than Levevour but his averages 5.5 yards a carry and can be very effective if needed.
How are their receivers?
Antonio Brown is the equal of Naaman Roosevelt, that should give you an idea how good their receivers are. They used everyone as a receiver in the passing game, 12 Chips have receptions already 9 of those have more than one. LeFvour, not wanting to be out of any part of the offense, has a 24 yard reception.
How about their offensive line?
The Chips line is very Athletic. They are not very big (averaging in the low 290's) but they move very well and have a much stronger push than their size would lead you to believe. For a team like Buffalo that has had trouble getting into the backfield the CMU line is going to present a huge challenge.
Are they High Powered?
Not extraordinarily but they can be, LeFevour averages six yards per attempt and more than 8.5 yards per completion. They do move the ball well on the ground not only can LeFevour rip off a long run but when CMU gets it in their head to try trickery (like a reverse) they can get yards in big chunks. CMU will take what you give them, they are just as capable of going 80 yards in 4-8 plays as they are of grinding out 13 plays to go 50.
How Well do they convert on 3rd?
They are a bit Schizophrenic, they were 10-14 at Akron but only 5-13 against Alcorn State (what's up with that?)
Can their offense close a drive?
At 5.4 points per RedZone visit there are few, if any, teams in the MAC that are more reliable once inside the 20.
How Good is their defense?
Defense is no longer the soft spot of this football team. It was Defense that kept them in the game against Arizona. Their defense it top's in the MAC.
Do they take the Ball Away?
Not particularly well, They take the ball away, on average, once per game.
Can they stop the Run?
Yes, they average just over 110 yards given up per game and about half their total yards were given up to Arizona. Last week they held Akron to 69 yards on the ground and they held FCS school Alcorn to less than 40! UB Desperately needs to establish a running game but doing so against this defense is going to be next to impossible. With the shake up at RB (Starks is still the starter, but Ike Nduka has passed Mario as the number two back) maybe we will see something new.
Can they stop the Pass?
Last season they were awful but this year they have been holding their own in the passing game. Nowhere near as crushing as their Running defense but the pass defense is keeping other teams from marching down the field.
How do they perform on third downs?
The Chips are giving up less than 30% of third downs to their opponents. One of their opponents is knocking on the top 25 (Arizona) the other is decent Big-10 member (MSU), neither of these teams managed better than 50%.
How is their red zone defense?
In the red zone the CMU defense is only Average, at 4.8 points per trip they rank in the middle of FBS schools. CMU seems particularly unable to stop the run once inside the 20, that's where 80% of the touchdowns they do give up come from.
How well do they get after the QB?
Very well, and they get most of their pressure from the front four. This could be a problem for a UB line trying to put the pieces back together after losing Matt Bocoulis.
Do they get after you in the backfield?
Other than getting opposing quarterback's they are only an average team when it comes to stopping plays in the backfield.
How is their return game?
Antonio Brown is sick as a punt returner, he has already Taken one back this year. Given the state of UB return coverage is a very worrisome aspect of this weeks game.
How well do they defend returns?
There has not been too much a chance to see just how well they defend the return. So only MSU has returned a punt against them. They do give up 20-30 yards on the kickoff return so Buffalo may be able to do *some* damage there, especially with Roosevelt returning.
How well do they Kick?
For a college kicker Andrew Aguila is about average at 62% accuracy, he is 2/2 from 40 to 50 yards (with a long of 49) so once the Chips get to the 32 they become a treat to put some points on the board.
How Well do they Punt?
Extremely well, they have punted the ball fourteen times with an average in the high 30's / low 40's and only *1* return against them. Hartman, who is listed as a kicker, is a adept punter who sets up the punt return defense nicely.
How does CMU do in conference?
CMU has owned the MAC, they actually have owned them so long that they finished paying off their mortgage this past summer and are now the sole deed holders. Last season was their 'bad year' and they finished 8-4 with conference losses to only BSU and EMU. With the defense coming along so strongly this may be the best team that CMU has put on the field since joining Division 1A.
How Big is this game for Each Team?
CMU badly wants this game but if means way more to Buffalo right now. Its only our second home game of the year, it would be our first conference win, and it would help to ease the growing pains we have been seeing the past three weeks.