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Liveblogging EMU Football Spring Game

April 12, 2014

Wow…what a beautiful Michigan spring day. Best of all, before this glorious day comes to a close, we get to take a very brief glance at Chris Creighton’s new and improved EMU football team.

Offensively, I will be watching the QB play to see if Roback seems ready to lead this team. This will be our first glance at Brandon Bossard, can he be a reliable backup? Is he good enough to surpass Roback? Is Reggie Bell too talented to keep off the field?

Running back should be a strength. Bronson Hill, Ryan Brumfield, and Darius Jackson make for a pretty strong trio.

The offensive line was young last year, and it showed. Will there be enough improvement to expect decent sized running lanes for the Eagle RBs?

Most importantly, what does Creighton’s offense look like?

On defense, there is a significant rebuild. If this group can contain the offense, it will have been a pretty good day. Hill, Russell et al will pose a threat. Can Pudge Cotton live up to his talent now that Ron English is gone? How will the D-line perform against the talented EMU running back corps?

Unfortunately, few of these questions are likely to be answered tonight. It should be a fun evening, however, and considering how little we know about Creighton’s coaching style, even a small sample is welcome.

So, it will be the Green vs. the White. Honorary captain for the Green team:

And the honorary captain for the White team:

I’ll be back with periodic updates throughout the evening.

6:20 PM

Offense starts with the ball on their 35 yard line. Spring game starts with Roback heaving the ball out of bounds. Two quick hits to junior Dave Gibson from Roback. Gibson getting PT with Dustin Creel out with injury.

Defense stuffs Brumfield on a third and short. Another try for Ryan and he picks up a first down.

Roback hits B-Hill for a nice gain, all run after catch by Hill. Great moves by Bronson.

Tyrese Russell looks to be in playing shape as well with a terrific one-handed catch.

Pat O’Connor sacks Roback on fourth down to end the series. Nice play by Pat, but the secondary deserves a lot of credit. Nice coverage on the play.

End of series.

Offense gets another shot from the 35.

Reggie Bell in at QB, wearing number 10.

Bell can’t get anything done, nice play by the Darius Scott, folllowed by a throw into triple coverage by Bell. DeBoer using Bell as a drop back passer.

End of series.

Roback back in at QB. Good run by Hill, followed by a completion by Roback to Austin Stone for a first down.

Nice play by Omar McFarlane drops Darius Jackson for a loss, but Roback competes a bullet pass to the outside to Tyler Allen for a long gain. Good to see Allen utilized in the passing game.

TOUCHDOWN! Roback to Gibson for an eight yard TD pass on third down. Gibson has been Roback’s favorite target today. Defense had decent coverage, but Roback threaded the ball in nicely.

6:35 PM

Bell back in at QB. No Bossard? A steady diet of RBs Juwan Lewis and Tomaz McNeil move the ball downfield. Bell explodes out of the backfield on a QB keeper, but is called down after five yards after his flag gets pulled.

O’Conner sack drops Bell for a loss. On the next play…

TOUCHDOWN! Bell hits TE Cole Gardner for a 20 yard TD pass. I couldn’t see who it was, but someone left Gardner standing alone in the end zone. Bell tossed a dying quail and Gardner pulled it down for a nice catch.

End of series.

Bossard in at QB. McNeil starts off with a seven yard run. So far the DeBoer offense seems pretty conventional. Anthony Zappone drops Bossard for a third down sack, forcing a punt.

6:40 PM

Two-minute drill time. Roback gets moving down field, but is stopped by a big sack on D for Mike Brown. Roback hits Jay Jones for a big first down with 13 seconds left in the “half.”

Defense holds as Roback’s two-minute drive stalls at the 30.


We are seeing the limitations of the spring game. With the can’t hit the QB rule, a big part of Bell’s game is not being utilized.

Running game looks fine, and it is nice to see backups like Lewis and McNeil running well. David Gibson has been a nice surprise, and offensive line looks to be improved. Tough to say for sure against an inexperienced EMU d-line.

My focus has been on offense, I’m going to try to key on the defense in the second half.

7:00 PM

Second half starts with a big tackle for a loss by junior DB Jalen Williams. Credit the whole defense, Jackson had no where to go and tried to escape outside. Williams was waiting for him.

Bad snap leads to a turnover on the next play.

End of series.

Bell in for Roback. Big run by Brumfield to start the series. Running game picks up another first down, but Austin Stone drops a well thrown ball by Bell.

Bell completes another pass underneath, but short of a first down. This leads to a 32 yard field goal by Brendan Renius. Nice kick, good to see after last years special teams debacles.

End of series.

Roback in at QB. Offense starts with ball on defenses 25. Offense gets nothing done. Three and out. Renius back on and misses a 42 yard FG. Pretty ugly kick.

End of series.

Bell’s turn again. We’ll see if the next series can be Saved By the Bell. I promise to never write that again.

No save for Bell anyway, as he goes thee and out. Dylan Mulder gets a FG try and misses a 38 yard FG. Kickers are running hills after the game.

End of series.

7:12 PM

Roback’s back. Defense stuffs the run on the first play. Next play Roback fails to lead Jones and a long pass gets broken up by a beaten Wille Creear. Better pass and that is an easy six. Another three and out and the defense is fired up.

End of series.

I love how people said it was no big deal that Tyler Benz transferred. QB play has been erratic this game. Benz will be missed.

Bell under center. Huge run for Lewis and offense is inside the ten. The entire defense got sealed off on that play. Corners and safeties overcommitted and got beat. Bad.

Defense stuffs McNeil on third and goal from the three. Creighton elects to kick a short field goal, presumably to boost the confidence of the kickers and EMU fans. I would have preferred to see him go for it.

Renius comes through with a 20 yard chip shot.

End of series.

Bossard gets another turn. He proves he can hand off with the best of them, and McNeil rips off a big run, followed by a dumb late hit by the defense.

More McNeil but this time Michael Denson stops him short.

TOUCHDOWN! Bossard looked great on this play. Rolling out to his right, he hit a wide open Duwhan Alford in stride for a 19 yard TD pass.

7:25 PM

Bossard with a QB keeper. Why? He looks good on the play, but with the no tackle rule, we can’t see if he can beat contact. Series ends three and out.

Pudge Cotton and Nathan Adams bust up the gut and one of them (I think Cotton) blocks the kick. Ball is scooped up by Zappone and the defense scores. We’ll say Zappone zips into the end zone. Works better than Zappone Zcores.

Extra point is blocked and the entire FG and punting units will be running hills after the game.

End of series.

Game ends after a booming punt by Austin Barnes. Ray Guy, eat your heart out.

Back for final thoughts after a short PC with Creighton.

8:05 PM

Chris Creighton’s optimism and attitude can really pull you in. I’ll try to get audio from the PC up tomorrow.

All in all, it was a successful day. There were tons of mistakes on the field, but the change in attitude is quite refreshing.

On offense, we saw a balanced attack with lots of quality depth at RB, and a nice performance by the O-line.

Defensively, we saw a unit that didn’t quit, and made some noise in the second half.

On special teams, we saw missed FGs and blocked punts. Lots of work to do.

It was nice to be back at EMU’s football palace. Good night from Rynearson.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    April 12, 2014 8:11 pm

    Did any of the quarterbacks separate themselves from the pack at all ?

    Also, any surprises as to the look offensively ? I’m sure they kept pretty balanced, but did they mix formations quite a bit ?

  2. Kenneth Barna permalink
    April 12, 2014 9:24 pm

    Dear Matt,
    I don’t think there was great separation, but I think Roback has the inside track, as they say. I would disagree with Jeremy on Benz. I thought all three quarterbacks tonight released the ball quicker then Benz, and I think they are better at taking off when receivers are covered.
    I didn’t see a great deal of mixing formations, although I wasn’t watching for that in particular. Remember that with a new coach and new offense and defense, I think we were seeing a vanilla performance. That was probably done on purpose since we have only had twenty days to pull this together.
    I would tend to agree with Jeremy’s comments of the various players and other comments on the team, except to disagree on Benz and what we have in the quarterback pool.

  3. Jeremy Rosenberg permalink*
    April 13, 2014 12:09 pm

    There is certainly is room to disagree on Benz, I will say that in the end it doesn’t matter, he is gone and the team has three pretty good options at QB. They just lack experience and I worry about injuries.

    As for the scheme, there was more read/option than we have been used to seeing, but overall I agree with Kenneth, it was a no-frills version of what they plan on doing.

    I also agree that no one separated themselves at QB, and that Roback has a slight edge. I could see a two QB rotation depending on what DeBoer and Creighton want to do on offense.

    • mwold permalink
      April 14, 2014 8:08 am

      Any word on where Tyler Benz transferred to

    • mwold permalink
      April 21, 2014 6:02 pm

      From the Spartan Nation interview with Offensive Coordinator Kalen DeBoer the scheme will be an up tempo spread offense.

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