As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2017 non-conference slate when it hosts Central Michigan on Sept. 16 at the Carrier Dome.
NEW OFFENSE: Central Michigan’s offense is undergoing a change similar to one Syracuse went through in 2016. With offensive coordinator Morris Watts retiring after a coaching career that started in the 1960s, Chippewas head coach John Bonamego turned to former running backs coach Gino Guidugli to run the offense. Once promoted, Guidugli ditched the pro-style offense that had been a staple under Watts, and installed a spread offense. Problem was, Guidugli left to take the running backs coach position at Cincinnati, leaving Bonamego to hire former Northern Michigan coach Chris Ostrowsky, who ran a similar style offense.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: CMU’s shift in offensive philosophy is hurt by the loss of four-year starting quarterback Cooper Rush. Rush left as one of the most prolific passers in school history, throwing for 3,540 yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior season, which was good enough to land him a spot on the Dallas Cowboys. Michigan graduate transfer Shane Morris appears to be in line to start, though he is not necessarily a lock. He will be competing with redshirt freshman Tony Poljan for the position. Whoever starts, he will have plenty of talent around him. Corey Willis, a first-team All-MAC candidate returns after racking up 1,091 receiving yards in 2016. In the backfield, there will be a competition for touches between Romello Ross, Devon Spalding, Jonathan Ward and Berkley Edwards.
PREDICTION: Central Michigan will likely experience plenty of growing pains adopting to a new offensive system, especially with a quarterback competition that will not be settled until the end of summer. The Chippewas’ defense also showed some inconsistency last season, especially in the secondary, as they gave up 222.9 yards per game through the air. SYRACUSE 42, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 17.
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