Purdue 54, EMU 16: searching for the silver lining
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).