Fans of Eastern Michigan football have every reason to be excited this week. After several years of trying, the Eagles have finally defeated a Big Ten team. That seems like a monkey that has been on their back for as long as I’ve been following them. And speaking as one of those fans, it was nice to finally see them pull it off.
Now that does not mean that there are not causes for concern and that leads us to the five things learned against Rutgers.
1. Penalties are potential killers.
Against Charlotte, Eastern Michigan was penalized 10 times for a total of 70 yards. Against Rutgers, Eastern Michigan was penalized 9 times for 93 yards. Many of those penalties ended up being drive killers (or drive enablers in the case of their opponent). It seems like the Eagles are having a hard enough time moving the ball, they don’t need to get help from refs in that cause.
2. Rushing seems to be down.
Against Charlotte, each rushing attempt led to an average of 3.1 yards. It was slightly better against Rutgers at 4.3 yards. But it seems like many of the plays would get stopped for no yards. A good ground game helps to grind the clock when holding onto a small lead. With the players they have, these numbers should be a little better.
3. The Defense may be that good.
This is something that I never thought I would say about the Eastern Michigan defense but it seems like they are pretty good. I thought that they would take a step backwards with the loss of Pat O’Conner. The Eagles have 5 interceptions over the past two games. In addition they have 3 sacks. They’ve also only given up an average of 10 points per game so far. While I expect a decline in the points given up, I expect the other numbers to improve as the defense gains more experience.
4. Eastern Michigan may want to take to the air.
Brogan Roback has thrown for over 250 yards per game in the prior two games. He’s only been sacked once per game. With the receiving corps he has, Eastern may want to open up the game in the air. That might open up the ground game a bit.
5. Savor the moment
It has been a long time coming for an Eastern Michigan team to look respectable. In two weeks they beat a team they should have beat and a team they could beat (although some authors said they would be that team). The schedule will get tougher as they head into the MAC portion. If they can do well, they have a shot at a game at Ford Field.