OG Derek McLaughlin (PHOTO CREDIT - Robert Barclay/CMU)

2002 Statistics

Coach: Mike DeBord
9-25, 3 years
2002 Record: 4-8
at Akron WON 24-17
at Indiana LOST 29-39
at Boston College LOST 0-43
at Northern Illinois LOST 0-49
at Eastern Michigan WON 47-21
at Toledo LOST 17-44

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

This is a team that could really surprise, or really disappoint. This will be Mike DeBord's fourth season as head man, and he has yet to reach the four win mark. Times are getting tough in Mount Pleasant - if he does not deliver a winning season, his job will certainly be in serious jeopardy. The schedule does not make it any easier for him. Even though they play two Div I-AA opponents and a Navy team who won two games last season, they still must open up at Michigan, then eventually play road games at Ball State, Bowling Green, UCF, and Western Michigan, while hosting Northern Illinois and Toledo at home. So, they either start out with enough success (maybe not with wins, but through respectable showings) to build upon and eventually break even, or they flop fast from first to finish.

The offense has to improve its passing numbers. Vickers must be more reliable in stretching defenses. He will solidify his starting job by standing in the pocket and delivering the ball downfield while taking the hits. They must diversify on offense to keep defenses at bay and then hammer it down their throats with Jackson and Lawhorne behind a strong O-line. Higher risk will ultimately pay off in higher rewards if tried.

Defensively, it's simple- defend the pass! Stopping the run does nothing if a 20-yard pass negates it. The linebackers are quick and athletic enough to help the pass defense, but it has to lie on the shoulders of the back-four. The depth and talent in the secondary are simply not there to compete with the increasing number of pass-happy teams in the MAC. We don't see the Chippewas making that much of an improvement. This is likely a four-win team, with improvement coming down the line - either late season, or in next year's revamping(s). Something needs to be done in Mount Pleasant. Is Mike DeBord the man who can do it? We think not, and the results should conclusively follow.

Projected 2003 record: 3-9
LB Omari Colen (PHOTO CREDIT - Robert Barclay/CMU)
QB Jeff Perry
DT Matt Wohlgemuth
QB Jeff Perry
WR Scott Gibson
QB - 2.5 DL - 2
RB - 3 LB - 2.5
WR - 2 DB - 1
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Derrick Vickers, 320-175-5, 1828 yds., 9 TD

Rushing: Terrence Jackson, 103 att., 399 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Steve Messam, 26 rec., 300 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Mike Gruzwalski, 14-19 FG, 27-31 PAT, 69 pts.

Punting: Brian Brandt, 71 punts, 39.6 avg.

Kicking: Mike Gruzwalski, 14-19 FG, 27-31 PAT, 69 pts.

Tackles: James King, 100 tot., 59 solo

Sacks: Matt Wohlgemuth, 6 sacks

Interceptions: James King, 4 for 17 yds.

Kickoff returns: Steve Messam, 7 ret., 12.9 avg.

Punt returns: Justin Harper, 1 ret., 10.0 avg.


OFFENSE: Kyle Croskey-C, Paul Brieger-OT, Rod Means-WR, Robbie Mixon-HB, Rob Turner-WR
DEFENSE: Jovan Clarke-WLB, Matt Reynolds-DE, Marvin Smith-DT, Cullen Jenkins-DE, Darvin Lewis-SLB, Ron Bartell-CB, Dante McKnight-CB

written by Tim Chapman

In the Mike DeBord era, the running game has always been the staple of this offense. Despite the one-back look often used, they are most effective when lining up in the "I" and running it right at a defense. Senior RB Terrance Jackson gives CMU a ram-like runner who is shifty enough to make people miss, but strong enough to pave a defense flat. The only concern is keeping him healthy. If he can't go, senior Kenan Lawhorne will get the call.

Part of the reason the Chips averaged 206 yards a game running the football is because of a stout offensive line. Four starters return from a group that displays (overall) consistency and size. These blue-collar trenchmen, led by junior OT Adam Kieft and senior OG Derek McLaughlin, can open nice-sized holes for Chippewa backs to run through and are athletic enough to keep defenders out of their backfield. Chippewa QBs were only sacked 14 times in 2002. Look for continued success in '03 from one of the best lines in the MAC.

Most teams returning a four-year QB consider it a luxury- not so much in Mount Pleasant. Senior Derrick Vickers wrestled away the starting job in his freshmen year but has never really taken the next step. The Chips were 12th in the MAC in passing offense, averaging only 166 yards per game. The big reason seemed Vickers' hesitancy to throw the ball downfield. He only threw five INTs, but didn't complete as many as he had liked either. He will need to be more assertive - stand and deliver in the pocket as opposed to tucking and running so much. Junior Jeff Perry had an impressive spring and has turned some heads in camp - he could very well be the man under center.

The receiving corps is another area that needs to be more dependable. The Chippewas lose their most consistent guy in Rob Turner, but they hope to compensate for the loss by bringing in JUCO WR Jovan Witherspoon. Witherspoon, who initially enrolled at Notre Dame, gives the Chips a big target and decent outside speed. The addition of Witherspoon should make the presence of senior Steve Messam and junior Jacob Brown that much more impacting. The key with CMU's passing game is to spread the ball downfield more. Central likes to get the ball to receivers quickly. By throwing the ball down the middle more and deep outside, it will keep defenses honest, especially when defending against the screen pass they so often use. At any rate, they must improve on the 166 yards per game throwing the ball.

Junior TE Tory Humphrey has been a proven pass-catcher who provides a big, athletic target - just what is needed to assure the above-described. If he has a big year, then the Chippewas are doing something right. Getting outside receivers involved will take opponent's off Humphrey, allowing him to get down the middle and rake in big chunks of yardage. If he requires a LB or safety consistently, then more opens up that way, too. He is a variable factor worth noting.


RB Terrence Jackson (PHOTO CREDIT - Robert Barclay/CMU)


Returning Starters in bold
QB Derrick Vickers-Sr Jeff Perry-Jr
FB Adam Supianoski-Sr Troy Peyerk-So / Bryan Lindstrom-Jr
HB Terrence Jackson-Sr Kenan Lawhorne-Sr
WR Justin Harper-So Steve Messam-Sr
WR Jacob Brown-Jr Jovan Witherspoon-Jr
TE Tory Humphrey-Jr Dave Kurzen-Jr
OT Adam Kieft-Jr Tom Langton-Sr
OG Derek McLaughlin-Sr Eric Karbowski-Fr
C Eric Ghiaciuc-Jr Jay Gillette-So
OG Drew Mormino-Fr Brandon Pitzer-Jr
OT Jeff Jenerou-So Dean Zarafonetis-So
K Mike Gruzwalski-So Matt Foster-Fr



written by Tim Chapman

The Chippewas gave up an average of only 140 yards on the ground last year- not bad considering the talented running backs in the MAC. They return just two starting LBs, but all four have seen some playing time. Senior Ed Hillery is a quick, hard-hitter who brings attitude and enthusiasm. He is joined by a worthy trio. Playing a scheme with four linebackers puts a lot of responsibility on your men in the middle. To that ends, this group will be held responsible for the success or failure of this defense. Nelson, at his BUCK position, is a strong safety who plays closer to the line of scrimmage to assist in run situations. Keep an eye on incoming frosh LB Anthony Rogers.

The defensive line doesn't return a starter, but in 2002 they were very deep. They will have three seniors up front, led by DT Matt Wohlgemuth. Wohlgemuth gives the Chips a threatening pass rusher who creates ways to get to opposing QBs. Seeing this, though, teams will pay him more attention and force the others to beat them. Interior seniors DT Tony Thompson and DE William Brookshire provide some athleticism up front, but not quite the size that will force teams to run outside. Any double-teaming of Wohlgemuth will surely be needed. The Chips will be glad they use a four LB system when teams find it easier to run inside. A guy who will turn heads is redshirt frosh DE Dan Bazuin. He brings a good presence to the forefront and is a great run-stopper.

Defending the pass was NOT something that CMU did well at all in '02, and, accordingly, a big reason the defense allowed 32 points per game. The front four would hold on first and second downs, but when it came time to throw, the secondary was eaten alive - over eight yards per pass attempt. They finished 13th in the MAC, giving up an average of 264 yards per game. When facing offenses like Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green, and UCF, the Chippewas must show some progress in their secondary. They have returning leading tackler James King back, but that's not necessarily saying much from Div.1-A's 106th pass defense. The Chippewas lose three starters from the secondary, returning only junior FS James King. The new guys are undersized and untested. CMU must protect the outside, where they often got burned last year. Coach DeBord likes the addition of DBs coach Bart Bartolomeo (Ball State) and feels that he can provide some much needed help to this group. Mr. Everything on defense in 2002 is a major casualty, as CB Dante McKnight has been suspended indefinitely due to academics. It is most likely that he won't return.


DB James King (PHOTO CREDIT - Robert Barclay/CMU)


Returning Starters in bold
DE William Brookshire-Jr John Pittman-Jr
DT Matt Wohlgemuth-Sr Damon Petty-Fr
NG Tony Thompson-So Kalani Muragin-Jr
DE Dan Bazuin-Fr Ike Ajoku-Sr
WLB Eddie Hillery-Sr Omari Colen-Jr
MLB Anthony Tyus-Jr Anthony Rogers-Fr
SLB Jon Nelson-Jr Jason Smith-So
CB Derrick Holoman-Jr Jesse Dailey-So
CB Marlin Maxwell-So Fabrice Raymond-So
SS James King-Jr Doug Kress-Fr
FS Mike Thomas-Jr Orlando Walton-Fr
P Brian Brandt-Sr Grant Arnoldink-Jr



Soph PK Mike Gruzwalski started sluggish but improved throughout, and ultimately finished 14-of-19 on FGAs. A major problem came in PATs, where CMU missed four. That simply won't cut it. Senior Brian Brandt gives the Chips a decent punter, averaging nearly 40 yards a 2002 kick, but Central's coverage team doesn't help him out, allowing nearly 10 yards per return. The return jobs will be up for grabs. These special team variables go a long way toward measuring the depth of a team, and CMU looks to struggle.


QB Jeff Perry impressed many with his passing ability and happens to fit right into what the Chippewas like to run offensively. The concern with him is how his bad knee will hold up as the season goes along. He sits atop the leader board in the QB derby, but must hold it throughout fall practice, as four guys (truly) vie for the top honor… TB Kenan Lawhorne is the better-fit back for the spread offense, but Jackson is the stronger runner between the tackles. A couple of third-backs to consider are sophomores Lance Gailliard and Spencer Lewis. Gailliard was impressive this spring, flashing speed and moves, while Lewis is more of a banger and drew praise from DeBord for his work last season… Coaches were happy with the way WR Scott Gibson stepped up and made plays this spring. He should help ease the loss of Rob Turner, giving CMU a solid deep threat with sure hands. Believe it or not, CMU has a deep, talented corps of receivers. One to watch this year is junior Jacob Brown…

The Chippewas have experience in the front seven, but as far as depth goes, the Chips might be one of the most inexperienced groups in the MAC. That said, it wouldn't hurt to play stud LB recruits Anthony Rogers and De'Onte Burnam right away. Both have amusing size and adequate speed. With a trial-by-fire freshman year, they could set themselves up to be one of the MAC's best duos in the near future… Matt Wohlgemuth is the headliner of the defense and created all sorts of problems for the O-line throughout the spring. If he can keep this pace during the season, he should be in a for a fine senior campaign… The secondary is still a question mark. DeBord says he liked what he saw in the spring, though they are relatively young back there and depth is supermodel-thin. Junior Mike Thomas had reputable outings in spring ball and takes over at FS. The starting corners are 5'9" and 5'10". If the Thomas isn't there to provide help over the top, it's going to be another long season in Mount Pleasant.

Marlin Maxwell and Justin Harper will get first crack at returns, both kickoffs and punts. Special Teams were not one of the Chippewas' strengths a season ago. Coverage must improve and costly penalties need to be erased, so they can utilize the advantage that good special teams can give you.