What one doesn't know can be his biggest downfall. That is why scouting reports and film study is so important each week for any football team. From high school to the professionals, the need is present to have some idea of what the other team will bring to the table.
Last season, the Central Michigan Chippewas were known as a high-flying offensive team. This season, even though the loss of their head coach, Dan Enos will effect the entire team, the defense was not hit hard philosophically by the loss. One of the biggest cogs in the Chippewa defensive machine, defensive end Blake Serpa will be out for Thursday's game with a knee/hamstring injury. Serpa was the tackle-for-loss leader (12.5) last season for the Chippewas and was tied for the lead in sacks with four. With Serpa gone, that changes a significant portion of the Cowboy game plan.
Half the Threat:
One leading defensive end is gone and Blake Serpa's replacement, Chris Kantzavelos averaged only about a tackle a game last season and will likely be more of a warm body, than a threat to the Cowboys offensive line and more importantly, Mason Rudolph. Opposite to the Serpa/Kantzavelos side, Joe Ostman will be on the field Thursday for the Chippewas. Ostman is no slouch. Ostman was second to Serpa for the team lead in sacks (3) last season. The match up of Ostman and SBNation Piesman Trophy watch list player, Zach Crabtree. The Cowboy right tackle has been talked about quite a bit this off season for all the right reasons. That match up will be the microcosm of a Cowboy offensive line that is poised to impress after a season of poor play and injuries.
The Biggest Threat:
The Chippewas lost their best trench warrior, but they still have arguably the best player on the entire defense playing Thursday under the lights of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Defensive captain, and safety Tony Annese, as the cliché goes, has a nose for the football. In recorded statistics, Annese made 15 plays on the ball, which is the most of any player for the Chippewas. Annese led the team in fumble recoveries, pass break ups and tied for the lead in interceptions (4). For the Chippewas to compete against the Cowboys, Annese will have to be a consistent playmaker in the game. An interesting match up for Annese will be him against Cowboy sophomore receiver James Washington. Washington, a play maker in his own right has made several plays in the air for the ball in the past and succeeded. If he can continue to produce big plays over the middle, then the Cowboys will be in good hands during their visit to Mt. Pleasant.
A Familiar Threat:
The Chippewas' defense will appear familiar to Cowboy fans. In terms of alignment, the Chippewas use a mix of hybrid linebackers. The Chippewas use what the Cowboys call a "star backer." Last season, Josh Furman filled that role for the Cowboys. Because of this familiar alignment, this should mean that the OSU offense will be very comfortable recognizing fronts and blitzes. Another reason why the Cowboys should not sweat it while the are playing the Fighting Dan LeFevours of Central Michigan.