Two fortnights ago I put it upon myself to review each of Michigan’s 2011 foes and their respective seasons. I reached Eastern Michigan and was administering the finishing touches on the post when suddenly the editor window closed without saving. Alas. Being of frail mental constitution, I was inconsolably disheartened. Days lengthened into weeks ere I dared to reassemble my thoughts, but the attempts were in vain. I could not write for the numbers and records dulled my eyes and numbed my mind. What evil times we live in that a blogger finds himself lacking the motivation to blog! Desperate and without recourse I sought council of Brian the Wise. I begged of him guidance for whether I should resume the ill-fated task that I set out to do so long ago. He spoke to me thus, and his word fell upon me like a spark upon a bed of straw damp with snake oil.
So here it is.
vs. Ball State / via Michigan Exposures
- Howard, 41-9 (W)
- Alabama State, 14-7 (W)
- @ Michigan, 3-31 (L)
- @ Penn State, 6-34 (L)
- Akron, 31-23 (W)
- @ Toledo, 16-54 (L)
- @ Central Michigan, 35-28 (W)
- Western Michigan, 14-10 (W)
- Ball State, 31-33 (L)
- Buffalo, 30-17 (W)
- @ Kent State, 22-28 (L)
- @ Northern Illinois, 12-18
Record: 6-6 overall, 4-4 MAC
Standings/Rankings: Tied 5th MAC-West
|Rushing:||218.3 ypg, 14th||140.5 ypg, 50th|
|Passing:||126.7 ypg, 117th||209.8, 42nd|
|Total:||345.0 ypg, 93rd||350.3 ypg, 34th|
|Scoring:||21.3 ppg, 103rd||24.3 ppg, 50th|
|T/O Margin:||-5, 91st|
Recap: In his third year as head coach of Eastern Michigan, Ron English led the program to their first non-losing season in about two decades or so.* They played most of their opponents close, getting blown out only by BCS schools and Toledo, which ended up one of the best teams in the MAC. If you have any ties or allegiances to Eagles football, you’d be saying something like, “Ron English has the program headed in the right direction,” while your buddy twirls his mustache and says, “Yes. Quite.” This of course presumes that there are at least two Eastern Michigan fans out there, which is a dangerous assumption.
Eastern Michigan benefitted from a significantly improved defense and a Mike Hart-inspired ground game that averaged 4.6 ypc, which is in the upper quartile of FBS rankings.** They were also second in the country in kick return coverage, so their special teams were pretty competent, too.
Michigan won’t play them again for at least another couple of years so I have nothing to say about what this means for their future.
* Wikipedia doesn’t go earlier than that.
** From what we saw when they played Michigan, they were more of an option/outside running team rather than HARTball, so saying that it was Mike Hart-inspired may not be entirely true.
Best win: Western Michigan. This was their only win over an opponent with a winning record. The Broncos also finished higher in the MAC standings so this was somewhat of an upset.
Worst loss: Ball State. Lost on a last-second field goal.
At the time, we thought they were as frightening as: A canker sore. Fear level = 1.
But now we know they are as frightening as: A hot slice of pizza. If you burn the roof of your mouth it's your own fault. 2.
What this win meant for Michigan: Michigan got the blowout as expected, but the manner in which it was achieved was pretty unsatisfying, if not downright unsettling. Eastern Michigan’s run game was the first to expose the Wolverines defense’s problems with perimeter defense and at the linebacker position. The Eagles found free yards all day by running to the edges, and they were stopped only at the goal line when there wasn’t much of an edge to run to.
The perimeter defense would get fixed gradually throughout the course of the season and would become less and less of an issue. The linebacking unit would see a little more rotation before reaching a level of moderate competency.
Really the most unsettling aspect of this game was that Bad Air Denard made his first full debut. He completed fewer than half of his passes (7 of 18) and threw an interception, forcing Borges to run him 26 times. Devin Gardner, who was expected by many to see his first significant playing time of the season, ran one play.
But there were some bright spots! Thomas Gordon made his first heads up play on the double-pass interception, and the year's only successful QB Oh Noes got Dileo in for the deciding touchdown … And that’s about it.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Pooping in a Porta-Potty.