It’s really hard to say where Eastern Michigan stacks up based on one game, especially considering that in all circumstances, this is still a “buy game” with an FCS side that EMU is expected to win, even if preseason rankings indicate Eastern Kentucky was supposed to finish second in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Being so early in the season, and against an opponent who won’t be on the part with EMU’s remaining schedule, it’ll be difficult to parse lessons, but we can still try taking a few lessons from it anyway.
The first player EMU fans had their eye on was the man under center: Taylor Powell. Powell took the long route to get to Eastern Michigan. He started at Missouri but didn’t play much, so he went to Troy. After suffering an injury for the Trojans, he transferred once again to replace the outgoing Ben Bryant (and Preston Hutchinson, a former starter who also departed.)
In his first game as an Eagle, he was 21-of-30 for 271 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, with an added a rushing touchdown. He was sacked two times but not sure if that is alarm-worthy or not, as that was more to protection breaking down than anything Powell did on his own. The Ragin’ Cajuns may help in answering some questions.
The ball was distributed to the receiving corps pretty well. Dylan Drummond had 62 yards. Hassan Beydoun had 48 yards. Tanner Knue had 43 yards. Two other receivers were in the 30s. I like the fact that Eastern distributes the ball fairly evenly, as it helps in keeping the defense guessing. It also helps that any one of the receivers I mentioned can jump up and bite you, as Beydoun and Knue proved several times last season. Though, it’s worth noting that even with the distribution, no receiver had more than four receptions.
Samson Evans was able to run for 89 yards but production fell down from there. Again, I’m not sure if Eastern Kentucky is competition for gauging the running game, but I’m a firm believer in the run game, as it helps open up other aspects of the game. It also helps in preserving leads later in the game, which is something EMU has had great difficulty with in recent years due to its one-dimensional offense (try as they might to be balanced.)
Another questionable area is Eastern Michigan’s line. They gave up two sacks and two tackles for loss. That might just be a case of needing a couple of games to gel. Again, we’ll see.
One thing I did not like: I was listening to the game and it sounded like Eastern Michigan went into prevent defense mode late in the game as EKU made their comeback attempt. This is a nagging frustration, as a good offense can pick it apart and take the short yards, negating any effect of what you’re trying to do. Fortunately for EMU, they had a big enough lead. But if they had a slimmer margin at the time? You never know what could have happened.
At any rate, Eastern Michigan stands at 1-0.
I suspect they will be 1-2 after their road trip. They play the Ragin’ Cajuns this weekend and then they play the Sun Devils next weekend. I hope they can split but if not, we’ll see.