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“Starters Lost”

April 13, 2014

In the media guide at the spring football game yesterday, Demarius Reed was listed under “starters lost.” Reading that was painful…I still wonder what tributes to Demarius will take place this season, in what would have been his senior year.

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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.

Halftime.

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.

Echo Sports Podcast 4/9

April 9, 2014

Despite the fact that I drank all their whiskey and trashed the studio last time I was there, Al Willman and Eugene Evans invited me back for an EMU sports roundtable.  We talked about transfers, Tulsa rumors, spring football, and paying student-athletes.

Train’s A Comin’ – Part II

April 9, 2014
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Back when I wrote this post, http://eagletotem.net/blog/2014/02/11/trains-comin/7004/, the Northwestern case was still being mulled about in the courts and now that the courts have spoken for now those players are allowed to unionize.  Granted, the NCAA has said that it will appeal and apparently Ohio is in the process of creating a law that says athletes are not employees, so it is not quite a settled matter.   It appears that we are a step closer to the day when college athletes (at least football and likely basketball players) will get paid.

I don’t think this will have a huge impact on the teams in the upper strata of college football but it will have a huge impact on schools like Eastern.  Eastern already supports it’s football program from the general fund and adding another expense will make that even worse.  The number I heard mentioned was $2000 per player which would mean another $200,000 expense.  As I said before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think the Regents will be able to stomach that number which will force them to make a decision.

Now, I suspect that not all divisions are going to pay their players nor will all schools but that will be one more reason for an athlete to choose another school over Eastern.  This will further separate the haves from the have nots.   I’m still not sure what the impact on college football will be but I do know it will look different.  Will this mean the end of Eastern football?  Probably not, but it will probably mean the end of Division 1A Football at Eastern.

Since I'm required by law to include a picture

Since I’m required by law to include a picture

In other thoughts…..

I am liking what I am seeing coming out of the Creighton era.  I’m not sure if Ron English did that sort of outreach program but I think it is a good thing for the program.  It may not pay immediate dividends but I think it will create long term fans of the Eastern Michigan football team.  I don’t care where the football player is from but I would imagine a kid would think it’s pretty cool to have one read to him.  One of the things Coach Creighton said at one of the basketball games and I’m probably paraphrasing but it makes sense was, “We expect the community to support us…is it too much to support the community in return?”.  That is not a phrase that you normally hear out of a coach.

I’m not happy about the thought of losing Jalen Ross and Darrell Combs but I wish them the best wherever they end up.

 

Confirmed: Jalen Ross Leaving EMU

April 9, 2014

I’ve held off on reporting this because the only information I have been aware of is Jeff Goodman’s transfer list, but I now have it from a concrete source that Jalen Ross indeed is transferring from EMU.

Ross was Eastern’s starting point guard in 2012-2013, thrown into a difficult position with Darrell Lampley graduating and Raven Lee missing the season with an injury.  He did a credible job, and most EMU fans thought highly of Ross heading into this season.

Ross began the year as the primary backup for Mike Talley.  This demotion had to sting a bit, but Ross was only a sophomore and the future still looked pretty bright for him.  As the season went on, Ross’s minutes dropped with the emergence of Darell Combs, as well as the stellar play of Mike Talley.  When he did play, Ross looked out of sync a lot of the time.  By the end of the season, Murphy had Ross far down the bench.

I still think Ross has a pretty high ceiling.  He was never allowed to develop naturally here, given a year off to learn a new system — as well as work on his game — Ross could contribute elsewhere in 2015-2016.  I wish him nothing but the best.

With the loss of Darell Combs, EMU is down two guards heading into next season.  The backcourt now looks a lot thinner.  Raven Lee and Mike Talley are going to be called on for big minutes next year.  They are certainly capable, but losing players like Ross and Combs makes EMU very vulnerable to injury.

The biggest question for next year remains in the frontcourt.  With Ross leaving, maybe Murphy can bring in another big man and solidify the center position.

Darell Combs Leaving EMU

April 8, 2014

I’ve been hearing rumors over the past two weeks that someone was set to transfer over at EMU basketball central, and that rumor appears to be confirmed.  According to Chicagohoops, Darell Combs is leaving Eastern Michigan for points as yet unknown.  Money quote from Darell:

“I am looking for a great relationship with the head coach and somewhere that I can just enjoy myself and at least feel safe.”

I won’t speculate as to his relationship with Rob Murphy, I never sensed any animus among the players for Murphy, or vice-versa.  For a kid from Chicago to talk about safety…well, that hurts.

Read more…

EMU forces football fans to pay for football

April 4, 2014

Earlier this week, Carter wrote a thoughtful analysis of the increased ticket prices and new parking fees for EMU football games. He rightly points out that EMU still ranks among the lowest in prices of all BCS schools. Over the years, EMU football has been nothing if not a cheap date.

This has been out of necessity. EMU’s attendance problem has been well documented; it takes only rudimentary knowledge of economics to understand that higher prices will drive down attendance. EMU has therefore been forced to keep prices low. Economics also tells us that you can not charge more for an inferior product in a saturated market. Over the years, EMU football has been nothing if not an inferior product.

Read more…

Eastern Michigan Baseball Vs Michigan State Spartans

April 1, 2014
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This is not going to be a regular feature here as the baseball schedule is not terribly conducive for working folks to attend the games.  It was a nice enough night, so I decided to head over to Oestrike Stadium to catch a few innings of the game against Michigan State.  It was a decent enough game for what I watched.  Anyhow….pictures….

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The price of admission

April 1, 2014

Are you ready for some football?

Are you ready to pay more for it?

Over the last week, EMU has announced the single-game ticket prices and ticket packages for the 2014 season, and prices are definitely on the rise.

First, let’s have the good news: EMU students still get in free with a student ID, with no advance ticket reservation needed. The other good news is that adult general tickets are only going up a little…if you buy them in advance.

For single-game tickets, EMU has two sets of prices. Buy your tickets in advance and pay less; buy your tickets on game day and pay more.

Read more…

Tristan Wilson Commits to EMU

March 27, 2014

The big question heading into the next basketball season for Rob Murphy and EMU Nation is the status of the frontcourt.  Talented guards and small forwards return, as do transfers and redshirts.  Talley, Combs, Lee, Ward, Ross, Martin, Price, Perry, and of course Ali Farhat guarantee that Eastern will have a really strong backcourt next season. 

The only returning big man is Lekan Ajayi, a prospect that is a cause for concern.  Murphy has to add frontcourt help, and is doing just that with the addition of forward/center Tristan Wilson.  Wilson is from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, and at 6-8 205 fits the mold of a rangy, athletic forward who can be disruptive in the 2-3 zone.

Ajayi is an extremely raw and unfinished project, he cannot be counted on for more than 5-10 minutes a game next year unless there is marked improvement in his play.  I’m sure a big part of Murphy’s pitch to Wilson was, “Playing time is there for you if you can earn it.”  Also, playing with Karrington Ward, Mike Talley, and Raven Lee has to be an attractive incentive as well.

Read more…