MAC notes: EMU girds for Kentucky’s big ‘Cats; CMU heads to Badger land

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson picks up yards against Toledo.

Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan opened their seasons with wins and now comes Week 2 battles against Power Five opponents.

Eastern Michigan earned a 30-23 comeback win at Coastal Carolina and will travel to Kentucky Saturday with an opportunity to defeat a Power Five team for the third straight year, defeating Rutgers in 2017 and Purdue last season.

Jim McElwain picked up his first win as head coach at Central Michigan with a 38-21 victory over FCS Albany at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The Chippewas will travel to Big Ten country and play at Wisconsin.

Big test for Eagles

Mike Glass III has taken over the starting quarterback job for good after splitting time with Tyler Wiegers last season for the Eagles.

Glass, who was second in the Mid-American Conference in passing efficiency (158.7), showed his poise on the road by helping the Eagles dig themselves out of a 13-7 halftime deficit.

Glass completed 20-of-22 for 188 yards and three TDs, including a pair of TD tosses to Dylan Drummond and one to Quian Williams.

Glass started the comeback with a 2-yard run to give the Eagles a 14-13 lead, extended the cushion to 17-13 with sophomore Chad Ryland’s 26-yard field goal, set up by defensive lineman Clay Holford’s interception. EMU had four interceptions on the day.

Then, after EMU’s defense forced a three-and-out, Glass found Drummond for a 19-yard TD and 23-13 lead. Glass’ biggest throw could have been a 32-yard TD toss to Williams on a third-and-long for a 30-20 lead with 5:46 remaining.

“We have a team that can respond, which is a big takeaway,” EMU coach Chris Creighton said. “We started nine new starters on defense, so every game we’re going to get better. Offensively, I felt we protected Mike pretty well and he did a good job managing the game and was very efficient in our passing game.

“Mike played really well. We put a lot on him. He wasn’t perfect, but I thought had a really good first outing.”

Creighton had high praise for Drummond.

“The first game of his career was our home game against Monmouth last year and he had a huge third-down catch and had a touchdown catch in that first game,” Creighton said. “He’s been here for a little over a year now, so he has some experience. We think he’s super talented and a smart player, so we’re expecting big things from him this year.”

Now, the Eagles face a Kentucky defense that is led by sophomore linebacker DeAndre Square (Detroit Cass Tech). Square had 11 tackles and an interception Saturday in a 38-24 win over Toledo.

“They’re really good,” Creighton said. “Whatever you imagine in an SEC team – defensive front, entire defense to look like, that’s what it looks like. They are huge and long and they run well. There just seems to be very little space, and space is what you want to operate with when trying to attack a defense.”

Creighton was pleased with how his defense forced four turnovers.

Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson connected on 19-of-26 for 246 yards and two TDs.

“I know in a game like this that the only way that we can give ourselves a chance is if we take care of the ball and take the ball away,” said Creighton of facing a Kentucky team that is coming off a 10-win season. “We have to play smart, tough, disciplined football – that gives us a chance. We took the ball away four times this last week and had one costly turnover, but we have to be perfect in that way.”

Dormady sharp in debut

Big things were expected from Quinten Dormady when he was a four-star quarterback coming out of high school in Texas, signing with Tennessee.

Things didn’t work out at Tennessee, or at Houston, where he transferred next, but it looks like he has found a home at Central Michigan.

Jonathan Ward

Dormady hit on 27-of-37 passes for 285 yards and three TDs in his debut with the Chips, actually setting the tempo when he threw for 220 yards and all three TDs in the first half for a 21-7 cushion.

“Quinten I thought did a good job of distributing the ball,” McElwain said. “I was happy to see the touches that a lot of the receivers got. The development of Ty (Scott), it was good to see him go be aggressive as a pass catcher, and he’s going to have to continue to grow for us and become a threat that will allow us to get some guys underneath.

“I thought Jonathan (Ward) ran extremely hard. He is a very talented player, and obviously he can catch the ball, as well.”

Ward, who had an injury-riddled junior season after being a 1,000-yard rusher in 2017, picked up 158 yards on 22 carries, scoring two TDs. Tyrone Scott had five receptions for 93 yards and two TDs, and Kalil Pimpleton had eight catches for 40 yards and a TD.

Dormady will be facing a Wisconsin secondary that showcases former U-D Jesuit star Scott Nelson and former River Rouge all-stater Reggie Pearson.

McElwain has now won his coaching debuts at Colorado State (Buffalo, 2012), Florida (New Mexico State, 2015) and at CMU.

“Every place is different, and every place is unique,” McElwain said. “For me, it’s to see the joys on the players’ face and realize the work they put in and the commitment to themselves is something that showed up.”

McElwain is not afraid to gamble and tried to extend drives on fourth down three times.

“Sometimes I think it’s important that your guys know that you believe in them, which I do, and given the situations will continue to do that,” McElwain said.

Now, CMU’s defense will be trying to slow down Wisconsin junior running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 135 yards and two TDs, also having two TD receptions in Wisconsin’s 49-0 win over South Florida.

Taylor led the nation in rushing last season (2,194 yards) and shattered the FBS record for rushing yards through a sophomore year (4,171), topping Ron Dayne (3,566) and Herschel Walker (3,507). He is among the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy.

“You talk about their running back, I hope he doesn’t want to win the Heisman in our game,” said McElwain of Taylor. “He’s an unbelievable player.

“This is a good opportunity for our guys to go play at a place that will be packed, and in this case playing at one of the great venues (Camp Randall Stadium) in all of college football. For us, it’s an opportunity to go challenge ourselves and at the same time get a ($1 million) payday so all the other sports in our athletic department can feed their kids.”