2022 Central Michigan Chippewas Preview

by Matt Fargo

Central Michigan Chippewas

2021-22 Season Record 9-4 (6-2 MAC West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 4

Overview

Central Michigan had the most experienced team coming back in the MAC last season and it took advantage by going 9-4 including a Sun Bowl win over Washington St. The Chippewas have only 11 starters back but that includes the quarterback and there is experience present with a lot of underclassmen getting time last season. Head coach Jim McElwain took over a 1-11 program in 2019 and has put together a 20-13 record including a 15-7 mark in the MAC and he looks to have this team trending up as the roster is now his but not with a ton of talent. Winning in the MAC West is never easy with Toledo and Northern Illinois in the mix and it will not be easy this season but projections are high even with a schedule that is not in their favor. Central Michigan has not gone to back-to-back bowl games since 2016-2017 and that finally could change barring something unforeseen taking place.

Offense

The offense had its best season under McElwain as it averaged 452.2 ypg which was No. 28 in the country and 33.0 ppg, good for No. 33 overall. Seven starters are back with a mix of key playmakers returning but also some significant losses. Quarterback Daniel Richardson came into his own last season as he completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 2,424 yards while throwing 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His experience off a great season counters the losses as gone are two of the top three receivers that combined for 1,533 yards but Dallas Dixon and his 696 yards and 15.8 completion average is back. Richardson was sacked 27 times last season and now he has to work behind an offensive line that lost his two tackles to the NFL. Running back Lew Nichols III rushed for 1,710 yards and will be an integral part of the offense again and should see little if any drop off.

Defense

While the offense is in fine shape, the defense looks to be in big trouble. The Chippewas front six or seven depending on the scheme was outstanding last season as they finished No. 38 against the run which led the conference, and was No. 1 in the country in tackles for loss, averaging 8.2 per game and No. 4 in sacks with 3.3 per game. Now it is a redo as they lost seven starters including their two best pass rushers, their leading tackler and their two top linebackers. For the latter, Central Michigan has two good replacements but they are just sophomores and there is no depth. The defensive line is experienced with six senior and juniors so the push could be there but it is not the same talent. The problem was they finished No. 112 in passing defense and No. 95 in passing efficiency defense but they do have experience at cornerback while needing to replace the safeties.

2022 Season Outlook

McElwain is a big name coach with success at Colorado St. and Florida before arriving in Mount Pleasant but the recruiting has been lacking which is the case for a lot of the MAC. Despite the significant losses, the Chippewas can build on their five-game winning streak to end last season but it will take more than that to get through a difficult schedule. They open at Oklahoma St., arguably the best team in the Big 12, but then get two games at home against South Alabama and Bucknell before it gets ramped up against with another road game Penn St. The MAC slate is difficult with all West teams having projected O/U win totals at 5.5 or higher and they have to face Toledo and Northern Illinois on the road. The Chippewas own total is set at eight with seems very high for a team ranked No. 100 in returning production and a schedule that has only three sure wins and a lot of swingers. 

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