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What We Learned: Takeaways from Eastern Michigan’s 42-28 win over UMass

EMU showed a great effort in a game that was not as close as the scoreboard indicated.

Darius Boone on a Run
Kenneth Bailey

After three games, Eastern Michigan has played an FCS team, a higher-tier FBS team and a lower-tier FBS team. That might give us enough information to have learned a thing or two about Eastern Michigan.

Ben Bryant sets up to pass
Kenneth Bailey
  1. Eastern Michigan has found themselves a quarterback.

Eastern Michigan didn’t really have to take to the air much against St. Francis. They were ineffective in the ground and aerial game against Wisconsin, but it seems like they opened up some against Massachusetts. In that game, Ben Bryant was 14-of-21 for 298 yards, with one touchdowns and no interceptions, taking one sack. Stats like that seem to indicate he may be the Eastern Michigan quarterback for the rest of the season anyway, though Preston Hutchinson might see some sub-package time.

2. Eastern Michigan has seemed to find their ground game.

Three of Eastern Michigan’s rushers combined for 166 yards in the game against Massachusetts. After several weeks of Darius Boone being the lead back, former James Madison transfer back Jawon Hamilton broke 100 yards vs. UMass. Taking into account Hamilton’s previous performance, he may have just played his way into starter carries. If this holds up, Eastern Michigan may be able to make some noise in the MAC, with such depth at RB, especially with Samson Evans, another former starter, taking charge on Wildcat power packages.

One of Eastern’s players catching a pass.
Kenneth Bailey

3. Eastern Michigan has a triple threat in receiving.

Eastern Michigan has three legitimate receivers in the form of Hassan Beydoun, Dylan Drummond and Zach Westmoreland. It seems like Eastern Michigan has always had a decent passing attack and this year seems no different in terms of talent. Even with the loss of Quian Williams, there’s still some ability on the outside numbers. Westmoreland especially took advantage of breakdowns in defense, nearing 100 yards in just two receptions on the day. Beydoun and Drummond have proven reliable options in moving the chains. Combine that with the running game and we could see some high scoring games.

4. Eastern Michigan has good punting too.

Jake Julien has punted 13 times in the three games played so far. He has averaged 50.23 yards, with six of his punts have been over 50 yards. In a game of filed position, the 2021 CFL Draft pick could be the difference.

5. Despite playing a complete game, the defense is showing signs of trouble.

All three Eastern Michigan opponents have been able to run more than 100 yards per game. Stopping the run is about as key as developing the run. They gave up over 500 yards of total offense and four touchdowns against UMass. They’ve collected interceptions in all three games, but still don’t have any fumble recoveries.

This is discouraging, seeing as the Neathery defense seems to be based on takeways. If this is the case, the defense has to have more takeaways than the offense gives up. So far, that has been about equal. They also only sacked the quarterback once. Again, disruption seems to be the key. They have another game this weekend where they can tune things up. So the real lesson wont be until they play Northern Illinois on October 6th.

Despite a number of positives against Massachusetts, I would still say the data is inconclusive on Eastern Michigan. They play 1-2 Texas State on Saturday, a team who is about on part with UMass in terms of talent. It’s easy to be optimistic though, but time will tell.

With their offense, Eastern Michigan may find themselves flying high. Hopefully their defense doesn’t ground them.
Kenneth Bailey