I meant to do this review sooner but then life happened. I found myself in the hospital for an infection that spread to my heart. They had to do surgery to replace my mitral valve, so I now have a mechanical heart. As I write this, I am in a rehab facility because they are still giving me antibiotics. I will be here for at least another three weeks. So if you missed my basketball pictures, now you know why.
Anyway, by Eastern Michigan standards, a 5-7 season was not bad. It has been a long time since Eastern Michigan football has been competitive. However, based on aspects of the season, this record is a disappointment. The season started with Eastern Michigan winning their first two games with one of those games being a victory against a Big Ten team. This was Eastern Michigan’s first win against a Big Ten team and I think it was also their first against a Power Five opponent. Then they went on losing six games in a row. Each of those losses were by a touchdown or less.
I can’t speak to all six of those games but they could have beat Western Michigan and Northern Illinois with better play calling in the overtimes. In both of those games, the plays were fairly predictable and was stopped. Despite that, Eastern Michigan could have won the rest of the season to go 6-6 and possibly to a bowl. Instead, they had one of the worst games of the season against Central Michigan. I forget how many interceptions were thrown, but there were a few.
Given that I was being optimistic when I predicted the season based on having an inexperienced line, I guess these season wasn’t bad but it could have been better. So lets take a closer look at the season.
Quarterback - Brogan Roback averaged about 240 yards per game. He was a good reason why Eastern Michigan won five games. It seemed like he slipped a little bit in decision making by throwing 15 picks. I think a big reason for that was because of the abysmal running game. He was forced into a passing game too much. I’m not sure if he’s going to make it to the next level but he has a pretty good chance of doing so.
Receiving - Sergio Bailey was the man. He man a few clutch grabs when needed. Antoine Porter was good in many situations, especially when they got him outside and he could make one of his passing plays. Johnnie Niupalau was also pretty good. Again, I’m not sure how much of that was because of the running game.
Rushing - Speaking of that running game, here we go. It averaged 130 yards per game but some of that was because there were a couple games where Eastern Michigan was able to blow it up on the ground. There were a few games where Eastern Michigan rushed for less than 100 yards. I think a big part of that was because the offensive line was so young.
Special Teams - Paulie Fricano was 15-21 on field goals. He missed a couple of key field goals that didn’t help Eastern Michigan win the games. He was pretty consistent on the point afters though. Eastern Michigan’s best punter was Brogan Roback and that’s not saying much.
Defense - The Eastern Michigan defense was solid last year. It was the main reason that Eastern Michigan remained in many of the games last year. They allowed only 23.3 points per game which was an improvement on the year before. The real improvement was in the passing game, Eastern only allowed 190 yards per game. They were able to force 18 turnovers. So all and all, pretty decent.
While it would have been nice to see Eastern Michigan go to a bowl game, I’m okay that they didn’t. As for next year, they lose Brogan Roback and a couple of their receivers but they are returning an experienced line. Defense should be solid unless their coach goes for greener pastures. Things are definitely looking up in Ypsilanti.