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What We Learned: Takeaways from Eastern Michigan’s 38-31 loss to Ball State

The Eastern Michigan running game needs to find second gear.

Eastern Michigan needs a better running game
Kenneth Bailey

Once again, Eastern Michigan has lost another close game. But if you look at the statistics, the game wasn’t really all that close. Ball State pretty much led from the beginning to the end and never really looked back. I can think of a few reasons but one comes to mind almost immediately.

Eastern Michigan only managed to get only 46 yards on the ground. Despite having some pretty decent backs, Eastern’s running game seems to be in first gear. This is the third time this year that the Eagles have rushed for less than 46 yards. Granted, they’ve got a pretty decent passing game but without a running game, that makes them one-dimensional. One dimensional teams can be stopped. I’m not sure if it’s a case that the line is not making the holes or the backs aren’t letting the holes develop. Either way, this is something that Eastern needs to correct.

In the preview for this game, I mentioned that Eastern Michigan had to make their own breaks. On paper, the two teams were fairly evenly matched. Usually in that case, the winner is usually the team that can produce the most turnovers. Ball State got two interceptions and Eastern Michigan didn’t get any. That makes the difference in a game which ends in a one score or less margin.

The Eastern Michigan defense seems to be based on disruption. They were not able to to get any sacks and they only got three tackles for loss. In order to disrupt an offense, you need to try to blow up plays before they develop.

I guess being around forever helps your coolness under fire. Drew Plitt went 27-of-35 for 207 yards and that was good enough.

There’s still a lot of football left. Northern Illinois stands on top of the MAC West at 3-0. Ball State, Central Michigan and Western Michigan are all 2-1. Eastern Michigan and Toledo are at 1-2. All have five games left in the season. It’s still possible for anyone to win the MAC West. If Northern Illinois wins in Mount Pleasant this weekend, I think the Huskies will be playing in Detroit. We have seen that anything can happen though.

Another one of writers pointed out that Eastern Michigan has 14 one-score losses since 2018. This was another one of those one-score losses. In my books a loss is still a loss, especially when one teams spots another team a 14 point lead. Getting a lead early at an away game takes alot of pressure off you. One-score losses are frustrating because you can look at a game and say, “What if this happened differently?”. For instance, what if Eastern Michigan didn’t throw 2 picks. But we will never know. I still think Eastern Michigan is close to breaking it, but I’m not sure what it will take.