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What We Learned from Eastern Michigan’s 49-21 loss to UL-Lafayette

It’s still early, but the returns so far this season haven’t been promising.

The Eastern Michigan running game seemed to be missing.
Kenneth Bailey

What can you learn from a 49-21 defeat? Well it turns out that you can learn quite a bit if you want to look for it.

  1. 43 Rushing Yards

Eastern Michigan only had a total of 43 rushing yards. That’s fairly suboptimal even by the normal standard for EMU’s attack, which averaged 117 yards per game in 2021, 112th in the country. Even when you add in the 24 yards that were lost because of sacks, that still only gets you to 67 yards. Teams are not going to win many games if they aren’t going to develop a rushing game, and this has been a weakness for a while now. Based on two games, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get better, even with the new blood in the backfield in the form of Lamar transfer Jaylon Jackson.

2. Five Turnovers

Eastern Michigan had three interceptions and two fumbles, with zero recoveries, giving Louisiana-Lafayette a +5 turnover margin— a number which ties their entire 2021 season mark. When you are -5 in turnovers, you are not going to win, even when other things are pretty much equal. One of the trademarks of Neathery’s defenses has been a decent turnover ratio, but they were unable to generate anything for the offense to work with in this contest, something which also cropped up in the previous game.

It’s not a concern quite yet, as I think this defense is still adjusting after a number of losses, but I like to think they’ll turn out fine as the season moves along. They’ve had a couple of injuries and that doesn’t help in trying to keep pace with teams.

3. The game is 60 minutes.

Eastern Michigan was ahead 14-0 at halftime, and had dictated the pace on both sides of the ball prior to the long lightning delay which stopped the game for over an hour. But after returning from the break, everything sort of fell apart, as the Ragin’ Cajuns were 49-7 after that, doing their most damage in the second half. It was about as uneven a performance as could possibly be had,

For the most part, the stats were pretty even but five turnovers changes that. One can’t helpo but wonder if a lack of focus and sharpness played a role in the change of performance.

4. We still don’t know much.

Given that this is only two games into the season, the trends above are not trends quite yet. So it’s hard to say where Eastern Michigan will fall in the MAC, especially given the state of the MAC after what was a house of horrors conference-wide in the second week of non-conference play. These are also trends that could be reversed, so Eastern Michigan might be fine for the MAC if they take their lessons from the first two games and apply them forward.

For now, however, things don’t get easier.

Eastern Michigan heads to Tempe, Arizona next where they will face the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Sun Devils are a Power Five team, but they have split the season so far. It’s also a late night kick, so that doesn’t help. But still, it might help in seeing what the Eagles are like this year.