Rutgers 28, EMU 10
In 2009, if EMU had scored 30 points per game, they’d have finished 6-6. They averaged 16 points per game, never scored more than 27, and of course, went 0-12.
In 2010 the defense did not do as well, but if EMU had scored 32 points per game, they’d have at least had four wins, instead of the two they managed. They averaged 19 points per game that year.
In 2011, if EMU had scored 29 points per game, they’d have finished 8-4 and gone to the first bowl game in 24 years. They averaged 21 points per game that year.
In 2012, the defense regressed again, but if EMU had scored 25 points per game, instead of the 21 they averaged, they’d have finished with three wins instead of two.
Right now, if EMU had scored 29 points per game in 2013, the Eagles would be 2-1, with their first win over a major/AQ conference opponent since…ever.
And before you start telling me about how this is pie-in-the-sky dreaming, allow me to point out that for the 2012 season, the median team’s points per game average was 29, and so far in 2013 it’s 31. 29 points per game in 2012 would have only ranked seventh in the MAC — and if you think having an offense that finishes in the middle of the MAC is pie-in-the-sky dreaming, you have truly lost all hope.
EMU’s running game yesterday did nothing to speak of, producing just a single run of more than seven yards, and averaging less than one yard per carry. Despite getting nowhere with it, the Eagles stubbornly stuck with it, running the ball 40 times for 35 net yards. As W.C. Fields said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” Averaging less than a yard per carry is pathetic. Handing the ball 40 times despite that is just embarrassing.
As for the passing game…well, one trick play, one 43-yard touchdown; 39 other pass attempts, no other touchdowns. Most of Tyler Benz’s passes were short throws that slowly moved the Eagles down the middle of the field, allowing plenty of time for drives to eventually stall out. You can sometimes get away with that if you’ve got a good field goal kicker, but not when he misses kicks as short as 31 yards (snapped from the 14 yard line). Dylan Mulder is now 1-4 for the season, ranking him as one of the worst field goal kickers in college football. Add in Benz’s interception plus the six sacks allowed and…well, let me just observe again that the offense was held scoreless at Penn State last week and only managed 10 points at Rutgers this weekend.
As for the defense, after Rutgers’s starting quarterback, Gary Nova, left the game early with an injury, the Scarlet Knights were forced to rely on the running game, which was just fine with them. Paul James carried 21 times for 192 net yards — more than 9 yards per carry — and all three Rutgers offensive touchdowns, which was two touchdowns more than they needed. As I’ve mentioned before, EMU seems to have “don’t bend, but break” defense, and both of James’s “insurance” touchdowns, went for more than 50 yards. (I think Quron Pratt’s 99 yard kickoff return could also fall into that category.)
After back-to-back showings like this, where does EMU go? They return home next Saturday, and will hopefully be playing in front of a big Homecoming crowd, but I expect Ball State to come in fired up after their disappointing loss to Indiana. The Cardinals have significant offensive firepower, and EMU will probably need to score at least 30 points to keep up with Keith Wenning’s offense.
We started this season with (moderately) high hopes for the (allegedly) retooled offense. They showed some flashes last fall, and we hoped that a new offensive coordinator would bring more creative play-calling and open up a more aggressive offense that could keep up with the up-tempo spread offenses of the MAC West that gave rise to the term “MACtion”.
Instead, it’s just been more of the same.