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Toledo 54, EMU 16 recap: time to panic?

October 10, 2011

We saw too much of this...

This game did not give EMU fans much to cheer for. Offensively, defensively, and on special teams, the Eagles were outplayed and outcoached by the Rockets.

In the open thread for the game, Kenneth Barna posted the following comment:

It’s not quite panic time, but I really believe Coach English needs to make some changes, if Eastern is to salvage the season. Eastern needs to pass the ball more, to loosen up the defenses of the opposing teams.

...and this...

They know we are going to run the ball, and we oblige, and they stack everyone on the line of scrimmage. Insert Benz, and see what he can do? Can it be worse than Gillett? Coach Karcher should be removed as offensive coordinator. His bland calls for Eastern’s offense is pathetic. Again, no reverses, screen passes, trick plays of any kind. To take pressure off the quarterback, throw short passes over the middle, quick down and outs to the tight end, screen passes. If we don’t make some changes, so we are not johnny one note offense, we have no chance next week, at Central.

...and this.

I’m not generally a fan of mid-season coaching changes, but I definitely agree that Karcher’s job should be on the line, and if we don’t see more — a lot more — from the offense and the play calling in the second half of the season, he should be shown the door.

I’m also quite concerned that what had looked like a significantly improved EMU defense through the first five games of 2011 gave up 12 more points and 100 more yards than last year.

It’s mid-season, and frankly, it’s gut-check time for this team. Is this football team really better than last year, or are they just the beneficiaries of an easy schedule? Up until this game, I’d thought the former, but now I think it might be the latter.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    October 10, 2011 8:35 am

    Having the offense go out and start running trick plays, reverses, flea flickers and the like shows a sign of desperation. Plus the success rates are low on Trick Plays. IF, Karcher has any in playbook AND IF they have spent time in practice on said Trick Plays, by all means, use them. In my past experience as a football coach, if you are going to take practice time them, it only makes sense to use them in a game or you are wasting your time.

    Now the offense can run the ball, we have all seen this. They do a pretty good job of it. But when you have 8,9, or even 10 defenders in the box, you may have better luck running through a brick wall. This offense if predicated on a run-pass option. Even if Gillett is not the greatest passer in the world, he has shown that he can throw the short to intermediate routes. Hoskins is big tight end that has shown he can catch the ball and get down field. But when the offense is looking to run 85% of the time, it ends up negating a weapon like him. Don’t wait until your backs are against the wall to throw the ball because then you become predictable and set your self up for failure. You have to have a good mix to keep the defense honest.

    Greene, White, and Scherrer can all run the ball with speed and power, but how about a screen pass to flat, and see what happens when they are in space and have room to make a move.

    • October 10, 2011 10:31 am

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that they should go nuts with trick plays. I do think there’s nothing wrong with one or two per game, rather than the one or two per season we’ve been seeing. (Offhand, I can think of one last year — Gillett lateralled to LaDuc, who threw for a TD at Miami — and one so far this year — Gillett lateralled to Benz, who threw an interception at Michigan.)

      The bigger issue is the run/pass balance, or specifically the lack thereof. Through the Toledo game, 71% of plays have been runs and only 29% passes. Even on Saturday, with the team playing from multiple scores down for almost the entire game, 57% of plays were runs. When a team is down 20 points and still running the ball, they’re no longer trying to win the game, and when that happens, I think it’s reasonable to call the coaching into question.

      According to my notes, Tyler Benz has now played six plays. For one, he was lined up as a wide receiver (trick play at Michigan). At Toledo he lined up as quarterback for five plays: handoff to Brumfield, handoff to Brumfield, pass complete to Julius Shelby for 16 yards, handoff to Brumfield, handoff to Brumfield (fumble). Why not let Benz play the whole fourth quarter — do the coaches really think Gillett could lead a fourth-quarter comeback down 31 points, or do they think Gillett needs the practice (practice handing off?) more than Benz?

      Even accepting that EMU is going to run more than they pass, there’s still room for a little more creativity with reverses and less-common formations like the wildcat or the “full house” used by the Packers (an inverted wishbone). One way or another, they need to find a way to keep defenses from stuffing the box and keying quickly on the ball carrier, and if they’re not able or willing to do it with passes, they need some uncommon run plays or formations.

  2. October 10, 2011 9:49 am

    I don’t remember if I sent you a picture of it or not, but one thing I saw too much of on Saturday were the yellow hankies on the ground. It seemed like everytime Eastern did something well, there was a penalty on either that play or the plays that followed. I remember one point of the game where there were two back to back false starts or something. The opponent is doing a fine enough job of beating you up, you don’t need to help them beat you up.
    It still seemed like the pass blocking wasn’t there during the game. It seemed like Gillett was having to scramble way too much. I suspect some of that will go away if Eastern opens up the field a little more.
    And the running game still looked pretty decent.
    As for firing a guy….I don’t think he should be fired mid-season.

  3. Kenneth Barna permalink
    October 10, 2011 9:53 am

    Dear John,
    One reverse, in six games is desperation? No one is calling for every play to be a trick play, but you answered it best, when you compared what is happening to running through a brick wall.
    In the end, you and I are in agreement. Eastern needs to pass the ball, and that is why I have called for Benz to be put in, and see what he can do. Someone on another blog, put it best, could Gillett, be a starter on any other MAC team?


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