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Toledo 42, EMU 7 recap

October 31, 2010

For EMU fans, the Band Day halftime show was the highlight of the game.

Let’s be honest, when a team loses a conference game 42-7, there’s usually plenty of blame to go around, and we can certainly spread it around in this case, but this was first and foremost an offensive failure.

EMU’s defense, already one of the worst in the country, was expected to struggle with the suspension of two starting linebackers, including the team’s tackle leader, Tim Fort, and while the certainly gave up some big plays, they did stop Toledo on seven possessions.

The offense, on the other hand, should have been able to put up some points. They did gain 319 yards, and 19 first downs, to Toledo’s 442 and 16. But each of Alex Gillett’s two interceptions was quickly converted into a Toledo touchdown, taking only two and three plays to score. The team continues to struggle on third down, managing to convert just four of 15 attempts, and neither of their two fourth down attempts. One score in 14 possessions is just embarrassing. Admittedly, the Eagles could have had two more scores — both field goals — if they had wanted them or thought they would help, but given that they were down 22 and 35 points when those opportunities came, the decisions to go for it on fourth down were understandable. Even if the Eagles had taken those field goals, one touchdown and two field goals in fourteen possessions just doesn’t cut it, but playing our little game of “what if”, avoiding those two interceptions and taking the two field goals would have yielded a much more respectable 28-13 final score. In the end, Toledo’s defense generally stifled EMU’s short game, and dared Gillett to make longer passes, and he — and his receivers — were simply not up to the task. EMU’s offense is still too one-dimensional, not in the run/pass sense, but in the short/long sense, to have much chance in a game like this.

I’ve also got to add — I mentioned this in the open thread already — that this might have been the worst officiating I’ve ever seen. Several times, the refs spotted the ball more than a yard beyond where it was actually downed, and there were at least two penalties called — one of which was confirmed upon review — that simply didn’t happen. EMU certainly played poorly enough all around that the officiating didn’t really affect the outcome of the game, but it was one more frustration.

The football team has reached their bye week, and so they’ll have plenty of time to consider this loss as they prepare for their final three games. In two weeks, they travel to Western Michigan (3-5; 2-2 MAC) and then to Buffalo (2-6; 1-3 MAC), both of which should be winnable games, Buffalo more so. Then they return to Rynearson Stadium for the season finale the day after Thanksgiving against a Northern Illinois team (7-2; 5-0 MAC) that’s every bit as tough as Toledo.

Heading into the bye week, I would give the following practice assignments:

  • Gillett and the receivers (including tight ends) will practice longer routes.
  • Kickoff/punt return players will practice downing the ball when there are no opposing players in the vicinity (e.g., first get between the ball and the end zone).
  • All defenders will practice unassisted open-field tackling.
  • Defensive backs will practice defending long routes.

The Eagles still have a shot at getting a second win this season, but they’ll have to do a lot better than what we saw yesterday.

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