Q&A with Central Michigan beat writer Nate Schneider of the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun

first_img Published on September 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Syracuse has a shot to start 3-0 for the first time since 1991 when the Orange (2-0) faces Central Michigan (1-1) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. Last year, Syracuse beat Central Michigan 40-3 on the road. Follow along with SU-CMU coverage here or on Twitter @DOSports.To gain some insight on the Chippewas, The Daily Orange spoke with Nate Schneider, a Central Michigan beat writer for the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.The Daily Orange: How much stock should Syracuse fans put into Central Michigan’s close game with Oklahoma State?Nate Schneider: They played pretty well in all phases. An offense with Cooper Rush at quarterback, his third year starting, coming into that game he had 23 (24) career starts. He played very well and kind of got the offense moving and then the guys around him. They certainly do have some playmakers. They lost a couple guys that were really key from last year’s team in Titus Davis and Thomas Rawls, but they showed that these guys can all get the job done. … He just really got the passing game going. That was really the key. They have a fairly experienced defense, especially up front on the defensive line and at the safety position and at middle linebacker. So they’re pretty experienced right up the middle. That certainly kept them in the game as well.The D.O.: CMU has used more three-, four- and five-wide receiver sets this year. What difference has that made for the offense?AdvertisementThis is placeholder textN.S.: It’s been unbelievable. Last year was mostly two- and three-receiver sets, two-tight end sets, mostly always a running back with a fullback. Now they’re using four-receiver sets, five-receiver sets, a lot more shotgun a lot more than they ever did last year. Last year, the most they ever really used shotgun was in the fourth quarter of that comeback against Western Kentucky in the bowl game. This year they’re really keeping defenses off balance. It hasn’t been totally flawless execution yet, they’re struggling to find a running game, but the passing game has done pretty well.The D.O.: Just 206 (152) rushing yards in two games, how much do you think Central Michigan will need to run the ball to be successful against Syracuse?N.S.: They could definitely do a better job running the ball. Part of it is they have first-year starter in (junior) Martez Walker and I thought eventually (sophomore) Devon Spalding would supplant him, but Spalding’s been kind of banged up a little with a knee injury. He’s starting to get healthy now but he can still feel the impact of it. Also, the offensive line has three sophomore starters. … Eventually I think they’ll find a way on the line, but right now, they’re really struggling.The D.O.: What are Rush’s biggest strengths?N.S.: He has a lot of strengths. He’s kind of a cerebral leader and now he’s a captain so he’s leading even more this season and obviously quarterback is a natural leadership position. He’s a very good accurate passer and he has a good deep ball. He threw a ball over the top perfectly (against Monmouth) to Ben McCord that resulted in an 83-yard touchdown. … Every once in a while he gets himself off kilter and he has an off-balance throw or an ill-advised throw and he’ll miss the middle linebacker over the middle, but overall, he’s a really polished quarterback and you can sense that this year.The D.O.: If Central Michigan were to win, it would be because of why?N.S.: Probably the biggest thing is the running game. I expect them to be able to keep themselves in the game and I think Rush will have a fairly impressive game, but the key is establishing that running game. Get something going on the ground and it makes the offense that much more versatile, but it hasn’t happened the first two weeks and it’s hard to predict it would happen this week as well. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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