YPSILANTI, Mich. — GAME NOTES — Saturday 10-23-2010
1,000 games and Still Counting:
At Eastern Michigan University they have been fielding a football team for 118 years and when they take the gridiron Saturday at Scott Stadium at the University of Virginia it will be the 1,000 game in school history.
“When you have played football for so long, it is obviously important to the university to have it; and when you can have something you are doing you want to do it as best you can,” Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English said about the occasion of playing 1,000 football game. “The thing about being here right now, there is a true level of commitment to football and that makes me believe we need to persevere.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference:
Saturday’s game against the University of Virginia will be the first time the two programs have met, the Cavaliers come into the contest with an overall record of 2-4 but have not won a game yet in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Eagles are no stranger to playing any team from the ACC, they have yet to defeat a team from that conference. The Eagles have played the University of Maryland four times with no success against the Terrapins.
Now What do they Do?
Now that the 18 game winning streak is over, the Eagles will continue to work hard at practice to improve and be ready to play.
“What I will remember about working to turn this program around,” English said about the end of the losing streak. “We are still in the infancy of the program, we just want to develop football character, where we respect the game and play hard and play physical.”
Alex Gillett Award Winning Week:
With his performance Saturday afternoon and leading Eastern Michigan University to victory Eagle quarterback Alex Gillett ran himself into the Eastern Michigan University record book and to few awards.
He carried the ball 35 times for 189 yards for two touchdowns against Ball State University and he also threw for 10 of 18 for 225 yards and three touchdowns including the 12 yard pass to tight end Ben Thayer for the game winning score.
The Mid-American Conference named Gillett as the offensive Player of the Week in the league and in the West Division.
The 35 carries and 189 yards are both a school single-game quarterback record in both categories.
“ We know when we recruited him he was a winner. We believed he‘s got a lot of toughness” English said about his quarterback. “He is really improved his throwing from one season to the next. He has a great background in athletics.”
Keys to The Game:
The Eagle defense is one of the worst defense in the nation, Eastern Michigan University’s total defense is ranked 106th, the rushing defense is ranked 117th and the scoring defense is giving up an average of 43 points per game which is 119th out of 120.
Against Ball State University the defense allowed 98 yards of rushing yardage and a total of 243 yards but there were still too many missed tackles, too many missed assignments and too many ill-timed penalties.
English knows if the winning is to continue the defense will have to improve and eliminate the mistakes that follows this squad like a dark cloud.
Virginia comes into the game Saturday after being beaten last week by the University of North Carolina 44-10, in Charlottesville.
Cavalier quarterback Marc Verica had trouble completing passes and getting time in the pocket last week against the Tar Heels, he threw three interceptions and he was sacked twice.
The running game for the Cavaliers has produced 946 yards but has scored nine touchdowns during the season.
Eagles defensive coordinator Phil Snow defensive game plan will have to find away to bring some pressure into the Cavalier backfield and pinch the pocket. The Eagles will need a strong rush from the edges and a blitz package that will bring a lot of heat from the linebackers but the key for success - they can not miss any assignments and have no penalties to extend any offense play from Virginia.
Virginia’s defense for the season is given up 24 points and an average of 381 yards per game.
The Eagle offense game plan will be more of Gillett but English is hoping to find a change of pace from tailback Dwayne Priest which would provide a good combination for a running balance.
Eastern Michigan Players to Watch:
TE Ben Thayer – He is second on the team with 19 reception and he is a big target and with good hands and he is quickly becoming a security blanket receiver for Gillett.
SLB Tim Fort – He will be the key this Saturday night and he will have to make a strong appearance, he will have to be ready to support the defensive line.
SS Martavius Cardwell – He had two penalties Saturday that almost cost the Eagles their first victory a roughing the passer and a pass interference call in the end zone. He will be counted on this week to support the linebackers who will be working with the defensive line in placing some pressure in the offense backfield. He will have to not miss any assignments and play football smart.
Virginia Players to Watch:
QB Marc Verica – He should see some pressure from the Eagle defense but he might be able to catch and force Eastern Michigan defense into mental or physical mistakes.
RB Perry Jones – Started six games in the Cavalier back field this season Jones has 342 yards but he has not found the end zone. He is good receiver from the backfield with 12 receptions.
What did He Say?
After the game Saturday afternoon with the first win just moments old Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English sat in a corner of the locker room on top of a stool and soaking in the jubilation.
“I expect to win some games. Winning games is important from this standpoints – the morale of the team,” English said this week from his office. “I was happy with the win. Don‘t get me wrong. I was happy. But is sad because you can never really enjoy it because you have to get onto the next game.”
That is all very well but English did say he like to win and the smile that could not be wiped away is evident enough that winning is a cure all and like a good sweet desert it sure does feel good.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.