Monday, June 6, 2011

Eastern Michigan 2010 Preview

Eastern Michigan Eagles
2010 Record: 2-10 (2-6), Tied 5th MAC West
2010 Bowl Game: None

     When was the last time that EMU was relevant to the college football landscape? You have to go back quite a way to find that answer. The Eagles have fallen off of the radar, and they just continue to flop around in the MAC cellar. Ron English is trying, but when 2 wins is showing progress, you are simply screwed.
     Alex Gillett was just one more sophomore QBs in a long list of them in the conference, but he struggled a great deal, and fell back into the scenery. Gillett was held to just 1633 yards passing with 13 TDs and 13 picks last fall. He could be more of a breakthrough prospect this season, but I would not count on anything earth shattering. The good news is that Gillett can get it done on the ground, as he led the team in rushing with 766 yards and he scored 5 times with his legs.
     Dwayne Preist was actually rather solid at times at RB for the Eagles last fall. Priest was second to Gillett in rushing with 716 yards and 8 scores. Priest averaged 75.56 yards per game on the ground, and is a nice compliment to Priest in the run game.
     EMU needed depth that was never quite there last season, as only two players caught more than 20 passes on the year. TE Ben Thayer led the team in actual receptions with 30, but only had 386 yards and 3 scores. He also graduated after the season, leaving a huge hole in the passing game. Garrett Hoskins would be his leading candidate as succesor this fall, but only caught 8 passes last season. Kinsman Thomas posted a line of 26-473-4 to lead the team, and he returns this fall. He needs some depth around him, as he did not even have a quality number 2 receiver opposite him a year ago.
     The defense was a wreck, which is consistent with a 2-10 football team. The Eagles gave up 223.5 yards passing and another 230.6 yards rushing per game last season. They only had 4 tacklers with 50 or more tacklers last fall. Neal Howey led the club with 95 tackles, but nobody came within 25 of him. Tim Fort was second with 68 tackles, and he was followed by Ryan Downard (60), and Marcell Rose (56). Only Rose returns next fall out of that group.
     The Eagles did a very poor job of pressuring up front, as Neal Howey led the team with only 7 TFLs. The good news was that 24 different defenders had at least of a share of a TFL, so there are many available athletes that have some ability here. Ron English just has to find a few guys that he can set loose and concentrate their efforts on wreaking havoc. The Eagles had only 10 sacks all season, and nobody had more than 4.5 sacks all season.
     Rose led the team in passes defended, as he knocked away 6 balls this season. Willie Williams and Arrington Hicks both added 5, and the secondary fared slightly better than the front seven. The major issue was that the Eagles only picked off 2 passes all season long. That's as bad as it gets, and it has to get fixed.
     The Eagles could not find many scoring opportunities out of their kicking game either. Sean Graham only attempted 8 FGs all season, and he hit on 5 of them. He also missed two PATs, but nailed 23 of his 25 attempts. Jay Karutz was a freshman, and he punted like it. He only averaged 38.71 yards per punt, another issue that is needing a fix. The kick return game was average at best, and putrid at worst.
Final Notes
     The Eagles have been really bad for a very long time. Ron English has struggled to turn the ship around, but EMU's administration has to give him time. Success is going to come slowly, and the fan base needs patience. English may or may not be the right fit at this point, but the truth is, we just don't know yet. He'll need all of the next 3 years to put this thing together, and then you can pass judgement. He is building from nothing.

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