Finally, after waiting ten months to get the stank of last year’s 2-10 debacle out of the air, the 2013 season opener is here. Howard University awaits in what most programs would consider a tune-up for the rest of the season. Eastern, however, will have fans on edge when the game kicks off. A loss would be a disaster, as the howls for the departure of Ron English would begin anew. The EMU fan base, loyal as it is, is one bad loss away from completely losing patience. A loss, therefore, would be a disaster for the program.
Patience was certainly lost with former offensive coordinator Ken Karcher by the end of last season, as he was a lightning rod for criticism. Karcher ran a predictable offense that did not suit the personnel on the roster. It will take very little from Stan Parrish to be an improvement, and since Bronson Hill will probably be the feature player, odds are Eastern will maintain its identity as a run-first offense. The real wildcard is Tyler Benz and the EMU passing game. If Benz shows dramatic improvement, many of us may adopt a more optimistic attitude towards Eastern’s 2013 prospects. If after a few games Benz shows no improvement or regresses, it will be time for one of the freshman to get a shot.
Defensively, it will be important for the Eagles to have an impressive showing this week. It would be nice to see some turnovers created by aggressive defensive play. Ron English has taken over the defense, and one wonders if he will lead them to his Waterloo. Eastern has zero identity as a defense, and served as a punching bag against the likes of Illinois State last year. This unit has much to prove, and English has his credibility on the line as well. I’d say the stakes are pretty high for the performance of this defense.
It would be naïve to predict that the game will go smoothly for Eastern, that the offense would be efficient and that the defense would have a solid performance. Followers of EMU football have been let down so many times, wouldn’t it be foolish to predict the team would burst out of the gates to an impressive start?
I’m prepared for a disaster if the season should come to such depths. I have a kit full of cynicism, snark, and shame if need be. For this week, however, my prediction is that Eastern will put it together and win handily.
Eastern Michigan 41, Howard 17.
This year on Eagle Totem, look for my weekly analysis of the 2013 season every Monday. Even bye weeks. Especially bye weeks.
Also, each Monday I will unveil the winner of the highly coveted “Beak of the Week” award for performance on the field, or by the coaching staff. In nature, the mighty eagle uses its beak to rip the meat off the carcass of its slaughtered prey. So, clearly the winner of the Beak of the Week will have put forth an on-field display of badassery that will be remembered deep in the annals of EMU football.
See you at Rynearson.