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Central Michigan 52, EMU 14 game recap

September 19, 2010

Central Michigan lined up for an extra point following a touchdown. They did this seven times; EMU did it only twice.

Well, the crowd was into the game, but that’s probably the best thing that can be said. This season is getting ugly fast. I’ve started to see and hear more people complaining about Ron English, and I think if the team still hasn’t managed to win a game by Halloween, things will start to heat up.

The Good:

  • With five penalties for 45 yards, the Eagles more than doubled their penalties for the season; however, they are still among the least-penalized teams in the nation (tied for second by number of penalties; third by penalty yards).
  • By points scored per game, yards per game, passing yards, and rushing yards, they are in the middle of the MAC. That’s a big improvement from last year, when the offense was solidly in the bottom of the MAC in all categories.
  • Punting continues to be strong. Although Karutz’s average has fallen somewhat to 44.1 yards per punt, that’s still the 33rd best in the country, second in the MAC (behind Ball State), and nearly a 5 yard improvement over 2009 (39.9). Central Michigan had drives start on the 20, the 10, and the 9. The Chippewas also started two drives on their 42 yard line, but when your offense starts a drive on their own 4 yard line and goes three-and-out, what do you expect? One of those was a 46-yard kick.
  • The EMU defensive line registered two nice sacks. Both came on third downs, forcing the Chippewas to punt.
  • It was good to see Devontae Payne get more playing time. Gillett played in the first and third quarters, as well as in drives that continued into the beginnings of the second and fourth; Payne played in the drives that started in the second and fourth quarters. Although the stats line says otherwise, my eyes continue to tell me that Payne is the better passer, and with more game time he will only improve.
  • Going for it on fourth down. Someone must have reminded Ron English that Walter Camp gave them four downs, because the Eagles went for it three times. Unfortunately, they only converted one of the three, but I don’t tend to complain about aggressive play calling; at the least, it signals that you’re playing to win, rather than playing to not lose.
  • Crowd enthusiasm. I can’t recall ever seeing a crowd get in to an EMU game like that. The student section, especially, although small, was quite loud into the fourth quarter, even with the Eagles down by 28 points. Kudos to the “Rynearson Rowdies”. A Chippewa fan brought a vuvuzela, and let me tell you, it was loud even from across the stadium; imagine a student section full of them!

The Bad:

  • Quarterback substitutions. Although it was nice to see more of Devontae Payne, I’d prefer to see situational substitutions rather than Gillett and Payne trading quarters or even trading drives. I’d also like to see both quarterbacks on the field together for at least several plays each game; the trick play possibilities are endless, particularly when you add in LeDuc’s arm as well.
  • 11 plays for 10+ yards was an improvement, but not by much. Priest ran for two (17, 10); Payne threw to Thomas (33), LeDuc (10), Hunter (11), and Thayer (12, 37); Gillett threw to Scott (52, 11, 13) and Thomas (31). Given the circumstances, the Eagle quarterbacks should have been looking a lot farther down the field, especially as the game wore on.
  • Play calling. When you’re down 21-7 at halftime and 35-14 heading into the fourth quarter, two yard rushes up the middle and three yard passes don’t cut it. The Eagles need to take a page from Brett Favre’s playbook — no, not throwing interceptions, they’re doing fine with that already. If they have a big first down gain and are in a second and short situation, they need to take a shot down the field. Likewise, as I mentioned above, I’d like to see more trick plays. Certainly there are some great possibilities involving Payne and Gillett, but even a reverse now and then would be nice. Central Michigan ran a beautiful reverse yesterday, and I was so impressed with both the play calling and the execution that I found myself cheering before I realized what had happened.
  • Crowd size. The official “attendance” of 20,348 notwithstanding, I estimated the crowd at about 10,000 to 13,000, and I’ve seen others guess as high as 15,000. Although there were more people on the east (visitors’) side of Rynearson than two weeks ago, there were certainly fewer on the west side, and the attendance for that game was only 11,318. Before the season, Derrick Gragg as much as said that EMU would ensure that the NCAA-mandated average of 15,000 tickets per game was met, and it’s obvious that they’ve implemented their program. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the number reported was just enough to bring the average above 15,000. I predict that EMU will report about 16,000 for the next game, which is Homecoming, then a drop-off to about 10,000 for Toledo, and then finish the season with about 19,000 for the Friday afternoon game against Northern Illinois. That would let them end the season with an average just a bit over the required 15,000.

The Ugly:

  • The EMU passing defense is allowing 161 yards per game. More worrisome, they have only snagged one interception for the year. Last year they gave up 150.5 yards per game and pulled in 12 interceptions.
  • The EMU run defense is about where it ended the year last year: among the worst in the country. They are now better than BYU, and are currently on pace to finish about 25 yards/game better than last year, but that will probably change after next week. The Eagles allowed a Chippewa team that only managed 1.3 yards per rush last week to gain 5.8 yards per rush.
  • After tearing it up against Army, the Eagles’ ground game has gone missing. Following last week’s anemic performance against the RedHawks (66 yards in 32 carries), the Eagles did little better against the Chippewas, running for 76 on the same 32 carries, for an average of 2.4 yards per rush.
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