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Ohio State 73, EMU 20 game recap

September 26, 2010

OK, I’ve procrastinating on this all morning, but I might as well get this over and write a recap. There were, amazingly enough, some bright spots to the spanking EMU took yesterday.

The Good:

  • OK, I’ll admit it. Alex Gillett looked pretty good yesterday. I still think Devontae Payne is a better quarterback in the long term (despite the unforced fumble), but right now, today, I’ll concede that Gillett probably gives EMU a better chance to win. Well, not today, since they don’t play again until next Saturday, and not yesterday either, since the probability was somewhere around 0.01% regardless of which quarterback the Eagles played. Gillett made exactly 81 passing attempts over the final three games of 2009 and the first four games of 2010, so they make a great comparison. In the  final three games of 2009, he completed 44 passes (54%) for 529 yards, or 6.5 yards per attempt; he threw 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions (8.6% of attempts). In the first four games of 2010, he’s completed 47 passes (58%) for 550 yards, or 6.8 yards per pass attempt; he threw 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions (3.7% of attempts).
  • The offense. Before this game, Ohio State had allowed an average of 12.7 points per game, and had a +10 turnover margin (+3.3 per game). The Buckeyes held Marshall and Ohio to just one touchdown each. EMU came into this game averaging 20.7 points per game, having played against Army, Miami University, and Central Michigan. The Eagles had a -5 turnover margin, with three each against Army and Miami and two against Central Michigan (partially offset by collecting one per game). Yesterday, EMU scored 20 points, gained 248 yards, and each team gave up one turnover, for a 0 margin. Playing against the #2 team in the country, I’d call that a relative success.
  • Ron English’s attitude about Ohio State running up the score. “My thing is this: You’ve got to stop them. So I’ll never whine about that. Yeah, he kept throwing. He throws the throwback to the quarterback and all that stuff but we were trying to score, too…I respect Jim Tressel. I don’t say that I’m [ticked] off at Jim Tressel. That’s the nature of the beast. The strong survive in this profession.” I agree. Tressel shouldn’t be blamed for the EMU defense’s inability to stop them. That’s how the game works.
  • This was the best team (by ranking) EMU has ever faced. The Eagles certainly will not face any teams even close to this good again this year, and probably not for years to come. Next year the Eagles have games at Michigan and at Penn State, in 2012 at Michigan State and Purdue, in 2013 at Penn State and Rutgers, and in 2014 at Florida. It’s hard enough to predict this week’s games, much less games that will be played years from now, but the odds of one of them being this good are slim.

The Bad:

  • Punting. After all the attention EMU punter Jay Karutz got over the past two weeks, he turned in a disappointing performance in which his longest punt (43 yards) was less than his previous average (44 yards). Maybe he was rattled by the atmosphere. Maybe he got tired (10 punts is a lot, after all!). Whatever the reason, punting had been a bright spot for the Eagles the past few weeks, and it wasn’t this weekend. Hopefully Karutz will be back on his game next weekend.

The Ugly:

  • A game that was no longer in doubt started to get ugly late in the third quarter. As I already mentioned, I don’t blame Tressel and I don’t blame the Buckeyes. This was squarely on the EMU defense, defensive coordinator Phil Snow, and Ron English. I’m not saying  that this even should have been a particularly close game — I didn’t think it would be — but that even in a badly mismatched game like this 73 points is an awful lot to give up. To put it in perspective, Ohio State is on track to allow just 174 points this season, while EMU has already allowed 184 points. EMU’s defense — statistically, at least — is right about where it was last year. The Eagles are 199th in points allowed  (46 per game, ahead of only New Mexico’s 56), 114th in total yards allowed, in the middle of the pack in passing yards allowed (worse than last year), and worst in rushing yards allowed. In fact, EMU is currently on pace to allow only 18 yards fewer rushing than last year, while allowing 500 passing yards more. Obviously that’s not the right direction. I still think this EMU team is capable of winning a couple games this year, but the defense is going to have to improve.
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