After beating Arizona State by nine points, I thought that Eastern Michigan would be going into MAC play in pretty good shape. By playing Buffalo, that gave me a chance to see how well they would do in MAC play. Prior to the game, Buffalo was 0-3 and Eastern Michigan was 2-1. Eastern Michigan had the edge in quite a few statistical categories. On paper, it looked like they played roughly equal schedules. I didn’t account for the let down after what could be considered as a big win.
- Eastern Michigan still needs to improve the running game.
Against Arizona State, Eastern Michigan was able to get over 300 yards on the ground. Leading rusher Samson Evans got 260 of those yards. The Eastern Michigan line was opening up holes for him, etc. Against Buffalo, Evans only gained 52 yards and the leading Eagle rusher was the quartback Austin Smith with 74 yards. Eastern Michigan only got 137 yards on the ground. It is still my opinion that you need an effective run game to win games. I hope Eastern Michigan can turn this around against Maryland.
2. Eastern Michigan needs an aggressive defense.
I have said in other articles, the Neathery defense seems to be based on aggressiveness and turnovers. As I was listening to the game, it sounded like the defense was backed off the ball many times. This allowed Buffalo to gain roughly five yards before getting touched. Buffalo was able to pick apart the defense and move the ball efficiently.
The Bulls had 201 yards on the ground and 297 yards in the air. Eastern Michigan did not force any turnovers. Eastern Michigan got just one sack and four other tackles for loss but none were for serious yardage. In years past, Eastern Michigan was on the positive side of the turnover battle and it helped. I think if Eastern wants to do well, they need to improve the defense.
3. Eastern Michigan has a decent kicking game.
We didn’t get to see Jesus Gomez too much and we only saw the punter once, but that was for 62 yards. In closer games, that could make the difference. I think the offense will get better and this will help. The Eagles shoud be in good hands with a new specialists unit going down the line, which is very encouraging.
4. I hate let down games.
After beating Arizona State, I thought Eastern would make noise in the MAC. There is still a chance but they need to clean up some stuff.
I don’t really have a fifth thing yet. I will do a write up after their non-conference play and try to sum it up. For now, bring on UMass.