EMU 31, Akron 23 recap
Let’s start by being clear about one thing: this team can run the ball, and the running game has depth. Dominique White, who started the season as the #3 running back, with backups blocking for him at both guard positions, just ran for 164 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Ron English had some comments on that:
I thought he did a good job. We’ve liked Dominique and we knew that he was going to have to run the ball because we have had some injuries at that position. We certainly were not surprised by the way he ran today, and we were pleased with what he did.
It starts with the offensive line…You would like to run the ball behind that line. When you look at that tape and you look at it from the end zone, sometimes we miss the holes, to be honest with you. We ran for 228 yards, but it’s probably likely that there were more than 228 yards blocked off. Our line blocks very well. I’m proud of them. Nobody mentioned that our two starting guards didn’t play today. To do what we did without them playing today, I think you have to look at the way our receivers are blocking. The one play that Trey Hunter got called on for the hold toward the end of the fourth quarter there, you see three guys cracking guys, there are big hits on that play, and Trey just happened to get his hands outside but you see all three guys, whack, whack, whack. I’m pleased with the receivers, we can get their technique improved. I’ve always believed, your team starts with the offensive line, and our coaches on offense do a terrific job.
White shared the credit also, saying, “It wasn’t just me, the offensive line executed, we followed our foundation, and we got what we wanted.” EMU currently ranks #12 nationally in rushing yards per game, 0.2 yards ahead of Alabama.
We saw something else yesterday. Alex Gillett has legitimate arm strength, but I’m still not sold on his decision-making. Late in the first quarter Gillett hit Donald Scott with a 48-yard bomb that set up EMU’s second touchdown. Near the end of the third quarter, with the snap on the Akron 38-yard line, Gillett overthrew Scott in the back of the end zone (call it about 55 yards). His distance was enhanced in both cases by having the wind at his back (that was some wind!), but those throws still took some strength, and the second throw wasn’t overthrown by much. As for the decision-making, which I last questioned after the Penn State game when he ran on third-and-long with three defenders between him and the first-down marker, consider EMU’s second possession of the third quarter. Latarrius Thomas had just forced a fumble which Marcus English recovered, preventing an Akron touchdown. On third-and-five, on the EMU 9-yard line, Gillett took the snap and took a knee. Apparently he though he had drawn Akron offsides, but that’s no excuse. The normal practice for this situation is to take the snap and take shot down the field; if the play succeeds the team declines the penalty, but if the play fails the offense gets five yards and the down back (or in this case, the penalty may have resulted in a first down). Instead, there was no offsides (or none called), EMU lost the down and had to punt. Speaking of which…
Our punting was just terrible all day. We allowed their offense to play on short fields all day it certainly affected our defense.
I really didn’t see that. I thought the kicking, punting, and coverage was good (at least, considering the wind, which caused several punts to drop straight down from their apices), but the punting squad has now taken a disturbing number of delay-of-game penalties. It makes me wonder if there’s some sort of miscommunication between coaches and players, resulting in the punting squad heading onto the field late in the play clock.
Halftime: MORE BAND!
- Marcus English and Pudge Cotton both returned after missing games due to injuries.
- Bridger Buche didn’t dress but seemed to be walking well on the sideline. I think he may be back reasonably soon.
- Corey Watman was using two crutches, which leads me to think that he’ll probably be out a while.
- No details on Javonti Greene’s injury, which the Eastern Echo referred to as “game-ending” and AnnArbor.com failed to notice (“Javonti Greene started at halfback but wasn’t as effective as White.”). Typical AnnArbor.com.
- No updates about Dominique Sherrer’s injury or when he might be back.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the field refs correct the timekeeper so often. Yesterday, it even started before the opening kickoff, when the clock was set to start the first quarter with 12 minutes.
The last time EMU won their MAC opener was 2005, over Central Michigan. The last time EMU started 3-0 at Rynearson Stadium was 1995, with wins over UNLV, Ohio, and Central Michigan. (That was, of course, also EMU’s last winning football season.) In addition to EMU, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Michigan, and Michigan State won yesterday. The last time all five FBS teams in Michigan won was November 5, 1994, and let’s be honest, it’s been EMU doing most of the losing since then.
Ron English: Anytime you get a win, particularly in league play, it’s a beautiful thing, so I was happy with that.
Dominique White: It was a big win. We’re undefeated at home too and that makes it look good on the season. It builds confidence for us, so going into next week, we’re in the mode where we don’t want to lose, we build the confidence where we want to make history here at Eastern Michigan.