August 1, 2009

CMU head coach Butch Jones updates season

During the recent MAC Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, ChippewaCountry was able to sit down with Central Michigan head football coach Butch Jones to ask him a variety of questions and discuss the expectations for the upcoming season.

The first order of business was to get down to the rumors surrounding three members of the CMU football program that reports have claimed are no longer with the team.

"I want to quantify, because there have been some reports. Josh Allison's is all injury related. He is a great individual that loves football and needs football; it's just been extremely unfortunate. I love his family and everything about Josh Allison. He will still be involved in our football program," said Jones. "Taylor Bradley, he's just trying to things together academically. As of this point in time, he will be back. Chaz West obviously did not meet our standards that we set fourth and our academic standards as well. He is no longer a member of this football team".

With news of some Chippewas not returning, CMU also welcomed a new addition in the form of a familiar name. It was widely speculated that kicker Richie Hogan from the state of California was a member of the 2009 recruiting class before reports came out saying he was not. All that speculation can now come to an end.

"Richie Hogan is an individual from California, a placekicker. He will be greyshirted this year and he will come in next year. But he is going to enroll for this year" added Coach Jones.

At MAC Media Day, Central Michigan was voted as the proverbial favorite to win the MAC. With that title comes some added expectations, as everyone will be giving CMU there best shot.

"Well, I think first of all. There are a lot of expectations and you wouldn't want it any other way. That quantifies the excitement that surrounds our football program, but it's going to be a great challenge. You look at our schedule and seven out of our twelve games are against bowl teams from last year and you couple Bowling Green in there as well who was bowl eligible last year, and that's eight out of twelve," said Jones. "For me, it's the most challenging schedule we have had, each year it seems like we out do ourselves" added a grinning Jones.

That schedule is set to test the Chippewas at every corner and CMU can ill afford an off day.

"I think the big key for us is the term perseverance. Being able to work ourselves through that tough schedule and having to go on the road and play some difficult teams. Then you have the Mid-American Conference that I think will be as competitive as it's ever been, so each and every games going to be a championship game. One bad game or one off day can take you away from all your goals and aspirations".

The Chippewas start the season off on September 5th in a game at Arizona. Chippewa fans have long wondered what effect the Arizona heat would have on CMU.

"Well, I'm going to have all the heaters going on the sideline for practice" said a smiling Butch Jones. "You know, there is only so much we can do, we might go into our indoor practice facility and crank the heat up, but the problem is it's getting torn up and the turf replaced. But I think the biggest thing is it's a game that's going to be played in the evening and we'll be in great physical condition and staying hydrated, so we'll be ready".

Offensively, CMU returns one of the most electric offenses in the nation. Led by quarterback Dan Lefevour and wide receivers Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown, the Chippewas have the makings of an extremely potent offense. But as Butch Jones said, some other players and position groups must step up for that to happen.

"I think the big thing offensively is how our offensive line comes together and how they gel. We'll have two new starters and that's going to be key. The other is the running back position. We have great competition there, but we have to get better in our run game. That's going to be a point of emphasis going into training camp".

On the defensive side of the ball, CMU had its ups and downs last season and battled a myriad of injuries.

"Defensively, the word that comes to mind is continuity. We went through a thirteen game schedule last season and only three times did we have our starting eleven. So, continuity is going to be a big thing, and depth. I think the safety position is going to have a strong point of emphasis in this training camp".

Coach Jones was also asked about some younger players that have stepped up and impressed him.

"I'll know more obviously once training camp comes around because I haven't seen them all summer and a lot of times individuals make great strides in the summer strength and conditioning program. But, when spring ball ended, I really liked a lot of the things that DJ Scott was doing. I expect him to be in a position to help us at the corner position, so I'm very excited about him. I think the development of our other quarterbacks, Derek Rifenbury and Ryan Radcliff was strong. Jeremy Wilson at the receiver position has also been impressive. He's made probably as much individual improvement as anyone we have had in our football program. I'm very proud of where he has come from and the work he has put in. And, I think on the defensive line, Sean Murnane has really stepped up. He continues to get bigger and stronger.

Finally, Coach Jones was asked about the progress defensive lineman Steve Winston is making after a nagging knee kept him out in the spring.

"Steve Winston is still battling a minor knee injury he had during spring practice. So he' going to be a work in progress".

Stick to ChippewaCountry for the latest in CMU athletics and recruiting.

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