EMU at Vanderbilt: the missing pieces
One of the keys to EMU’s abysmal performance at Vanderbilt was the absence of several key players, who were presumably missing due to injuries. In fact, three players had accounted for all of EMU’s touchdowns in the previous three games (I guess we can say they’ve accounted for all of EMU’s touchdowns in the last four games now), and none of the three played against the Commodores, despite all being listed as the expected starters in EMU’s game notes last week.
Senior running back Dwayne Priest did not play, and without him, the EMU ground game struggled, netting just 105 yards on 37 carries, an average of just 2.8 yards per carry.
Sophomore wide receiver Kinsman Thomas, who came into the game as the top pass catcher for the Eagles, did not play. Thomas is averaging nearly 23 yards per catch, and he’s accounted for half of the Eagles passing touchdowns. Without him, the Eagles averaged just 9.5 yards per catch, but even worse, there were no big plays; the longest reception was just 24 yards, barely above Thomas’s average reception.
Freshman wide receiver Donald Scott had some good catches in the last three games, including two touchdowns, but he also did not play in Nashville.
Several additional players who have turned in good performances in past games did play but underperformed.
Senior tight end Ben Thayer, who was one of the better receivers through the first four games, has done little in the last two. In the first four games, he averaged nearly four catches a game for 46 yards. In the last two games he has had a single catch for five yards, and a single rush for thirty-two yards.
Senior tight end/wide receiver Josh LeDuc, who, you may recall, caught a touchdown against Miami and threw for another, had just one catch for 6 yards.
Jay Karutz continued to see his punting average drop, although I imagine he must have been getting pretty tired; after just 13 punts in the first three games (averaging just over 44 yards per punt), he’s been call upon 22 times in the last three (averaging 38 yards per punt).
And of course, as I mentioned yesterday, the quarterbacks simply did not get it done. Alex Gillett completed 10 of 20 pass attempts and threw one interception, while Devontae Payne completed 1 of 5 pass attempts for just five yards.
OK, that’s it. We’re not looking back at that game any more. The Eagles will face the Ball State Cardinals this weekend, and if everyone can get healthy, that might be a winnable game — maybe the last winnable game this year.