Miami Redhawks (7-5) vs Central Michigan Chippewas (8-4)
The 23rd Annual Marathon MAC Football Championship is scheduled for Saturday, December 7, 2019 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
Central Michigan, under first year head coach, Jim McElwain had the biggest turnaround in all of NCAA Division I college football. Going from 1-11 to 8-4. The RedHawks have a stout defense, but can they score enough points to stop the Chippewas high octane offense?
Coach: Chuck Martin
Miami (OH) Players to watch:
***Freshman QB Brett Gabbert (6-0/200)
Brett Gabbert became the first true freshman quarterback to open the season as the starter in Miami football history. In fact, he has thrown all but 21 passes for Miami this season. The St. Louis, MO., native is the younger brother of Blaine Gabbert, who was a standout quarterback at Missouri and currently with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The offense has struggled this year as Miami has transitioned to a spread-style offense. Gabbert has completed 133 of 250 passes for 1,851 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions this season along with 53 rushing yards plus three scores.
**Sophomore FS Sterling Weatherford (6-4/218)
DB Sterling Weatherford leads the team with 86 tackles and also has 2 TFL and an interception. Weatherford earned MAC East Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his young career (vs Ohio on Nov 6), recording nine tackles, 1.0 sack, one forced fumble and two pass break-ups versus arch-rival Ohio. Weatherford’s forced fumble came inside the Miami 2-yard line to help keep the Bobcats off the scoreboard.
Senior DT Doug Costin (6-2/295)
Doug Costin and Kameron Butler have terrorized offensive lines all season long with 18.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks between them. However, nose tackle Doug Costin, a native of West Chester, Pa., is capable of spoiling plays by himself. He has 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 12.5 sacks in his career.
In 2018, he logged 10.5 TFLs and six sacks — not bad for a 295-pounder. That performance earned him second team All-MAC honors. On would be surprised if he wasn’t named first-team All-MAC this season.
Senior NB Bart Baratti (6-1/202)
Defensively, the RedHawks have steadily improved their execution of the 4-2-5 defense: a scheme generally considered to be the best against the spread offense’s of the MAC.
The scheme has allowed Baratti to see much more playing time than he might have otherwise. His disruptive play from the end of last year (nine tackles-for-loss, five QB hurries, three sacks, and an interception) has carried over into his senior season. He finished the regular season tied for third on the team with 71 stops but he also has 11.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, seven passes defended and one interception.
*Junior CB Manny Rugamba (5-11/193)
Rugamba missed the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. However, ‘Hawks fans were excited to see the Iowa transfer making plays all over the field in 2019.
Rugamba was tied with Baratti with 71 total tackles during the regular season. “It’s just continuing to move forward, regardless of what happens, and focusing on ourselves, not on the other team,” redshirt junior defensive back Manny Rugamba said. “When we mess up ourselves, anyone can beat us … So as long as we continue to focus on ourselves, I think we’ll continue to roll.”
Coach: Jim McElwain
Central Michigan Players to watch
Senior RB Jonathan Ward (6-0/202)
Ward has run for 2,399 yards in his career. He’s also ran for 27 touchdowns, which ranks eighth-best in school history. “This is by far the best-balanced team I have been on in my college career,” Ward said. We had a lot of great passers, but maybe the rushing game wasn’t up to par that year or we had good rushing years but the rushing game wasn’t up to par. This year we have balance. I feel we are very dynamic.” Ward is a true, four-year, senior. He hails from Kankakee, IL .
Senior QB Quinten Dormady (6-4/215)
This season is Dormady’s sixth season in college football. He spent the first four seasons of his career at Tennessee before taking a graduate transfer opportunity to Houston. An injury allowed him to take a medical redshirt, granting him a sixth season that he elected to use at Mt. Pleasant.
“This has been the most fun year of college football I have had for sure, there is no doubt about it,” Dormady said. “It’s a special group in the locker room, I’ll continue to say that for years to come. I’m happy for the guys that were here and endured what they did. To bounce back is special.”
**Sophomore WR Kalil Pimpleton (5-9/160)
After spending a season at Virginia Tech, he transferred to join the Chippewas in Mount Pleasant. He spent last season on the sidelines due to NCAA transfer rules, but has become an instant playmaker in his first year under McElwain.
Pimpleton leads the MAC in both receptions (73) and receiving yardage (711). Sullivan is eighth with 47 catches and is fourth with 712 yards. Pimpleton has burst onto the scene at Central Michigan. He’s growing into more of a threat each week. “Anytime you put anything together, the goal is to put the ball in your playmakers’ hands,” said first-year coach Jim McElwain. “We’re real glad he’s on our team.”
Senior DE Sean Adesanya (6-3/240)
Last year, Adesanya played in all 12 games, making two starts, in his first year at CMU after transferring from Illinois. The defense typically aligns in a 4-3 look, with senior Sean Adesanya (30 tackles, 14.5 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks) and freshman LaQuan Johnson (24 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, five sacks) setting the edge. Johnson, at six-foot-three, 272 lbs., recently made the move from tackle to end, where his speed rush abilities fit the scheme decidedly better.
**Sophomore WLB Troy Brown (6-0/203)
Troy Brown, who converted from safety this past offseason, is the leader of the defense at his outside linebacker position. He leads CMU in total tackles (72) and interceptions (3) and is second in tackles-for-loss (14.)
CMU’s defense is allowing opponents just 121.5 yards on the ground, and it ranks second in the MAC and 26th nationally in that category.
Ford Field – Astro Turf
Dec. 7 | Detroit, Michigan