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Five Things Learned: Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois

Will last year’s streak pop up again?

Coach Creighton has the team competitive, but is that enough?
Kenneth Bailey

Last season, Eastern Michigan managed to overcome years of demons and finally beat their first Big Ten and Power Five opponent in Rutgers. After that, they proceeded to lose six games in a row by a touchdown or less. This year, Eastern Michigan defeated Purdue to defeat their second power five team in a row. After that, they lost to Buffalo by a touchdown. Then they lost to San Diego State in overtime by a field goal. This week, they lost to Northern Illinois in three overtimes by a field goal margin. So what did we learn:

  1. Eastern Michigan has to really work on their running game.

Eastern Michigan only managed to gain 67 yards on the ground. The bulk of that came Shaq Vann with 68 yards. He was followed by Blake Banham with 16 yards. Rounded out with Line Latu with 11 yards. That would be wiped out by the 15 yards lost. It seemed like things were starting to work but I think you need more than that to get anywhere.

2. Marcus Childers seems okay.

He passed for 121 yards but he was never sacked. He also ran for 100 yards which made him a dual threat. I suspect he’s going to get better.

3. Eastern Michigan has a hard time containing dual threat quarterbacks.

Eastern Michigan runs a very aggressive defense. If they can get in and disrupt the quarterback, they can generally be effective against the passing game. If they are face with a quarterback with good escapability, they lose that edge. That was part of the problem in Saturday’s game.

4. Northern Illinois could contend for the MAC Championship.

Northern Illinois is 2 and 3 but both of those wins are against their MAC Division rivals. Their three losses were against non-conference foes and pretty tough ones at that. While Power Five wins are nice, in the end only MAC wins really matter.

5. Eastern Michigan is competitive enough but they need to get over the hump.

Eastern Michigan seems like they are competitive enough but they need to develop that killer instinct. While it is nice to defeat Purdue, in the end it is their MAC schedule that matters. They also need that play to win style. For instance, last week, they were tied with a little over a minute to go with one time out. Instead of trying a few passes to get into field goal range, they settled for overtime. If nothing else, Eastern Michigan has a pretty good receiving corps and a good quarterback. it seems like they should allow him to throw a few deep balls to open up the defenses. Then maybe they could sneak a few runs in there. Instead of the other way around.

Well, this week, Eastern Michigan travels to Waldo Stadium where they will face the Broncos, where hopefully they can turn it around this week. And NIU heads to Muncie to take on Ball State.