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Purdue 54, EMU 16: searching for the silver lining

September 17, 2012

I’ve been putting off writing about that garbage for two days, but I guess it’s time to suck it up and put something out there. At least I can be secure in the knowledge that, no matter what I write, it will be better than the game EMU played.

I don’t really know where to start, but I guess quarterback is as good a place as any. Sure, 80% (12 of 15) of Alex Gillett’s passes were caught, but only three-fourths of those catches were by the right team. Gillett, by himself, has now turned the ball over seven times in his last 36 minutes of play: three interceptions and a fumble in his last 17 minutes against Illinois State, and three more interceptions in about 19 minutes against Purdue. Roughly one-third (7 of 23) of EMU’s possessions over that time ended with Gillett turning over the ball.

Any coach who wouldn’t bench a quarterback putting up those numbers should probably have his head examined. I’d bet that English stuck with Gillett longer than most coaches would, but he did finally put Tyler Benz in for the last quarter-and-a-half at Purdue. Benz was hardly overwhelming in his play, but he did put up better numbers than Gillett has so far this year. (True, completing 5 of 14 sounds pretty bad — it is pretty bad — but in terms of yards per pass attempt he was ahead of Gillett’s average for the season, plus he managed to throw 14 passes without turning the ball over, while Gillett is averaging an interception every 12 throws in 2012.

As for the ground game, EMU did have a fair bit of success there, averaging 4.4 yards per carry as a team, with Ryan Brumfield gaining 45 yards on 7 carries (5.7 yards per carry) and Dominique Sherrer picking up 80 yards on 12 carries (6.1 yards per carry). This is partly indicative of improved offensive line play, and suggests that EMU may be able to run the ball at will against most of their MAC opponents. My only concern here is that when you’re averaging 4.4 yards per carry and 5 yards per pass attempt, I’m not sure why you’d ever throw a pass, but I find a lot of Ken Karcher’s play-calling baffling, and why should this game be any different.

One offensive drive does deserve particular mention, and you probably already know which one it is. The play-by-play went like this:

Meadows, Thomas kickoff 65 yards to the EMU0, ALLEN, Tyler return 25 yards to the EMU25.
BRUMFIELD, Ryan rush for 6 yards to the EMU31.
BRUMFIELD, Ryan rush for 20 yards to the PUR49, 1ST DOWN EMU, out-of-bounds.
BENZ, Tyler pass incomplete to DAWKINS, M.
BRUMFIELD, Ryan rush for 11 yards to the PUR38, 1ST DOWN EMU.
BENZ, Tyler pass complete to CREEL, Dustin for 36 yards to the PUR2, 1ST DOWN EMU, out-of-bounds.
BENZ, Tyler rush for 2 yards to the PUR0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 08:40.
MULDER, Dylan kick attempt good, PENALTY PUR offside defense declined.

Admittedly, that was against Purdue’s backups, but that’s four rushes for 39 yards and two pass attempts for 36 yards. This is EMU’s offense of the future. Tyler Allen, Ryan Brumfield, and Tyler Benz are sophomores, while Mitchell Dawkins, Dustin Creel, and Dylan Mulder are freshmen.

As for EMU’s defense, I think Purdue’s 54 points and 576 total yards (7.9 yards per play) pretty much say it all. It is certainly worth noting that the Eagles were missing two key defenders, weak side linebacker Justin Cudworth and left corner Marlon Pollard. Certainly they would not have made a 38-point difference, but I do think they could have changed the flow of the game a bit, and perhaps the final score might have been a little less embarrassing. On the positive side, as Jeremy noted, the defensive line seemed a little more physically ready, which may stem partly from the return of starting defensive end Kalonji Kashama, who sat out the Illinois State game.

Jay Karutz gets honorable mention as player of the game — probably the best a punter is ever going to do — for averaging 44 yards per punt on seven kicks, including punts downed at the 15, the 5, and the 2 yard line. Special teams overall were less disastrous than the week before. Dylan Mulder replaced Kody Fulkerson as the place-kicker, and although Mulder missed his first extra point kick, he went on to make a 23-yard field goal three minutes later and an extra point in the fourth quarter.

The player of the game for EMU has got to be sophomore safety Pudge Cotton, who almost singlehandedly (OK, he used both hands, and he had some help) ended Purdue’s first two drives of the second quarter. First, following a decent punt by Jay Karutz that went out of bounds at the Purdue 15, Cotton intercepted Caleb TerBush and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown — EMU’s first pick-six since 2005. After the ensuing kickoff, he tackled Purdue running back Akeem Shavers on the first down, and when Kalonji Kashama knocked the ball loose on the next play, Cotton was right there to grab it for the Eagles, setting up an EMU field goal that narrowed the score to 13-9, the closest EMU ever got. Cotton was also second among EMU defenders with six tackles (behind Bryan Pali’s nine).

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. John Baublit permalink
    September 18, 2012 7:18 am

    The offensive silver linings are Tyler Benz’s play and the discovery that Ryan Brumfield is a great replacement for last year’s White who did not return for this season. Benz seems to be a very capable back up quarterback or the starter if Gillett keeps turning the ball over. Don’t get me wrong; Gillett has done an excellent job for us, but when he’s having a bad day I see no reason why Benz can’t step in and help the team out. Benz demonstrated, during the Purdue game, that he was a good passer and a decisive decision maker on this one particular day.

    On Defense Pudge Cotton was a definite silver lining, and on special teams Jay Karutz played like an All American punter!

    Lastly, Eastern played much better against Purdue than against Ball State which easily man-handled Eastern.

    • September 18, 2012 9:14 am

      I agree with you on Benz. I say get him rep with the 1’s this week. Gillett may definitely have the in-game experience (doesn’t show) but Benz seems to be a much better passer.

      I’ve said this for the last two seasons; Gillette will not take us to where we need to be and that’s to a MAC Championship. Like many has said already, his ability to smart and quick decisions and the ability to be a passing QB in college football is a huge disappointment. He MUST improve.

      I know we haven’t seen much of Benz but honestly, what do we have to lose at this point in the season. Let’s not wait around until game 6 when we have no chance of competing in our conference. Make the changes this week so that we can finish the season strong.

      As for defense – it doesn’t matter who shined, the d-line is what matters and we aren’t good at that position. Three games into the season and we’ve already given up about 1000 yards on the ground this season.

      I like giving stats for people to reflect on:

      Passing Yards: Ranked: 115
      Points Against: Ranked: 116

      Both are reflective of our QB and Defensive.

  2. Bobby Wicks permalink
    September 18, 2012 7:26 pm

    You do realize Benz was playing against a soft, prevent defense comprised of 2nd and 3rd stringsers right? And he still couldn’t complete 50% of his passes.

    Noting that Justin Cudworth missed the game without telling us why, doesn’t quite cut it. Is he okay to play against MSU? I want some investigative reporting.

    • September 18, 2012 7:47 pm

      I get that, however; you aren’t taking into the fact that Purdue’s 2nd and 3rd strings could most likely start at the majority if not all of the MAC schools. They are still Big Ten players.

  3. Bobby Wicks permalink
    September 18, 2012 8:27 pm

    It’s not just the personnel it’s also the scheme. I don’t know how many of the backups for Purdue would start in the MAC. Maybe some. I do know Gillett would have done much better against soft playing backups and Benz would have struggled mightily against Purdue’s aggressive starters. You really can’t compare the two performances because the situations were so different.

  4. Kenneth Barna permalink
    September 19, 2012 12:41 pm

    Dear Bobby,
    We normally agree, but on this one I have to say that, in my opinion, Gillett should be done as a starter. I would have to go back and check, but I think part of the reason for low percentage in completions for Benz were dropped balls by the receivers, and which has also happened to Gillett.
    Gillett has had three games to show he is making the right decisions, and again, in my opinion, he has not. As I have said on other blogs, he won’t be back next year, so give some experience to those that will. As I have also said, what do we have to lose? Games? Eastern is well on its way to losing four in a row, so, I say go with who will be coming back so we have some game experience going into the 2013 season.

    • emueagles63 permalink
      September 19, 2012 12:50 pm

      Yup. It’s time to move on.

      If Gillett is truly our best option to win games, man we are in for a rough season.

  5. Bobby Wicks permalink
    September 19, 2012 6:28 pm

    Way to be loyal to a guy who helped build the program back to respectability! A guy who was thrown into the lineup as a frosh when Andy Schmitt went down. Now you want to toss him aside because he’s not going to play next year? Is that how we should treat our senior leaders at EMU? I know you need a scapegoat for our soon to be 0-4 start and why not pick on the QB, he’s the face of the offense. Let’s just forget about the shoddy blocking which has Gillett running for his life and the dropped passes, some of which would have resulted in touchdowns. Everyone wants to blame the QB, I get it. I think that’s lame and if English does bench Gillett (and he won’t because he’s in the business of winning games and his job depends on it) if I’m a recruit, I would cross EMU off the list for treating loyal players as disposable commodities. Go EMU and Go Alex Gillett!

    • September 19, 2012 7:11 pm

      I’m not sure if that was to me or Ken, but I’ll elaborate on your comment.

      I’m a loyal EMUFB fan. I just want to see the team do good. Whatever it takes (within NCAA rule of course). I’m not rooting for a player, I’m rooting for a team, a school, an athletic program. So if a player, whether a senior or froshman isn’t performing at a winning level in my opinion, I rather not see them on the field at gametime representing EMUFB.

      That goes for anyone. Unfortunately, Gillette IS the face of the team – the SENIOR leader, the one that played as a froshman and has plenty of gametime experience.

      I’m going to digress from here.

      GO EAGLES!!!

  6. Bobby Wicks permalink
    September 19, 2012 7:45 pm

    Thank god you’re not the coach because with Benz at QB we WOULD get shut out vs MSU and kill what’s left of the team’s morale. That is just a fact. Gillett did not get worse at QB, that too is a fact. Repeat after me, Tyler Benz is not going to start, he is not as good as Alex Gillett. Embrace that reality and support the team or come back next season and support the team in 2013. The train is leaving the station, get on the train or…not. It’s your choice. Go EMU!!!!!

    • September 19, 2012 8:32 pm

      Okay…

      1.) “Thank god you’re not the coach because with Benz at QB we WOULD get shut out vs MSU and kill what’s left of the team’s morale. ”

      The above comment didn’t make sense considering the fact that Gillette didn’t put together a TD drive last week. It would have been valid if he had at least a couple of TD’s – but none.

      2.) Honestly, a shut-out may happen whether Benz or Gillette starts. These last three games hasn’t been close. Do you think that Sparty (after losing to ND) is going to let up. Good luck with that. We cant stop a MAC or FCS (ISU) running back right now. Bell may have a record day. I’m just being realistic about the situation.

      3.) I’m 100% behind EMUFB. Like I said before, I root for the TEAM not a player. I hold no emotional connections to any of the players but I have a strong passion for EMU as a university, academically and athletically, especially the football team.

      I am embracing reality and realize that there no signs of improvement. Everything I’ve said is the truth. I’m not going to be delusional to the facts or stats in this matter.

      And for the record, I don’t know if Benz is overall better than Gillette. I just know that he’s not getting it done right now. Whether he turns over a new leaf in conference play, that’s yet to be determined. But, we aren’t winning (which we both want EMU to do). Its worth taking a look at Benz taking the snaps.

      Get real or not. It’s your choice.

      Peace…really this time. (Im over this)

      • Bobby Wicks permalink
        September 19, 2012 9:07 pm

        I agree, we both want to see EMU do well and win. We’ll just have to see how the season plays out. I support the team no matter who is starting, I just feel that Gillett is our best option. Good observations. Peace.

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