Opponent Recap: Eastern Michigan

Submitted by Heiko on January 13th, 2012 at 10:52 AM

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.

“Yes.”

So here it is.

Eastern Michigan

vs. Ball State / via Michigan Exposures

Schedule:

  • 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

Statistics:

  Offense Defense
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. 

See ya.

* 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.

This guy.

And it totally felt as awesome as: Pooping in a Porta-Potty.

Comments

lbpeley

January 13th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

emptied, clean port-a-potty...well, that's pretty exciting. Especially if that's the only place to poop. For me, the EMU win was as exciting as being the second guy to use a freshly cleaned port-a-potty. Still pretty sweet.

baldurblue

January 13th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

I don't know.  I've got kind of a phobia of public bathrooms in general, peeing in a port-a-potty is borderline unthinkable, and pooping is out of the question, newly cleaned or not.

So I'd say this victory was infinitely more exciting than pooping in any kind of port-a-potty.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

January 13th, 2012 at 11:15 AM ^

Probably nothing in the world pisses me off more than having to redo something I've already finished. Just remember this joke:

One day Jesus and the Devil were having a big argument over whose realm was better, heaven or hell.  God got sick of the bickering and told them each to sit down at their computers and spend two hours typing out an essay as to why they felt heaven or hell was better, and then God, the ultimate arbiter, would read them and decide for himself.  So Jesus and the Devil each sat down and began typing furiously at their keyboards.  After an hour and 50 minutes, they were both almost done when the power went out and both their essays disappeared.  The Devil flew into a rage and started screaming and banging on his computer and tearing out his hair and everything, but Jesus calmly rebooted and didn't say a word.  After the Devil had finished his tantrum, he asked Jesus why he wasn't angry.  Jesus just smiled and said, "Jesus saves."

Also: Wikipedia?  Try these instead:

http://football.stassen.com/

http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/

Feat of Clay

January 13th, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

EMU football mystifies me in its continued existence.  I think if you ask hard questions about what football does for EMU, the answers don't justify its costs.

Maybe that would change if the improvement put more butts in the stands, rallied the student body, fired up alumni giving, and helped EMU recruit more/better students.  I assume that's what they are aiming for. 

bdsisme

January 13th, 2012 at 11:48 AM ^

I've never used Windows Live Writer or whatever you guys use, so I have no idea how much it crashes.  Nonetheless, am I the only one who is OCD about hitting "ctrl-s" after every paragraph?

baldurblue

January 13th, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.

mikoyan

January 13th, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

Thank you for linking to one of my pictures.

This year, I was the photographer for an Eastern blog (Yes, there is one) and I was on the sidelines for all of the home games and the Michigan, Toledo and Central games.  I would have to say the Ball State game was probably the most heartbreaking because it was a game that EMU could have and should have won.  There were a couple of points where they marched the ball down the field only to settle for field goals.  The worst one was where they got on the 1 yard line with a first down and they had to settle for the field goal.  If they would have made that, the field goal that Ball State made would have been moot.  That was also a game where they took a few stupid penalties.....but that had been the story of the season.

The most exciting win for me was the one against Central in Mt. Pleasant.  They led for most of the game but Central managed to tie.  Gillett ran down the field to win the game.

As for the question in the comments about why Eastern has a football team?  At one time they had a decent team and their coach was the guy the stadium is named after.

Feat of Clay

January 13th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

Yes, and one time the State actually provided a stable amount of support for the school.  The financial picture has really changed for Michigan's public universities.  EMU got another $11 million cut for FY12--ouch.  Meanwhile EMU's athletics subsidy is the highest in the MAC, and they are among the lowest of all FBS schools for actual attendance at football games.  They have to resort to a weird ticket-buying scheme to retain their Division I status.

I get what a vibrant athletics scene can do for a school, tangibly and intangibly.  But it isn't happening at EMU, and it's an expensive way to fall short.  So, I'm somewhat surprised the university has continued to invest so much for so long.

mikoyan

January 13th, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

I speculate that one reason why EMU maintains the football and basketball is because they are still pretty competitive in other sports and want to retain their place in the MAC.  they have always fielded decent track and swimming teams.  I'm guessing that if they gave up the football and basketball programs, they would have to drop out of the MAC.  I'm not sure it justifies the money they spend on the teams...but still.

cmadler

January 15th, 2012 at 9:58 AM ^

Staying in the MAC, and retaining long-standing rivalries such as Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and Toledo, is part of it.

Part of it is what would happen if EMU dropped football (or dropped football to a lower level). Dropping football to FCS to stay in Division I for the sake of other sports would result in significantly increased travel for all sports; there's no conference that really would be a good geographic fit. The options would be to drop football altogether and go to the Horizon League, or dropping to Division II and going to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The NCAA doesn't allow a school to "play down" in one or two sports, so moving football to Division II would necessitate dropping all sports to Division II.