YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Just on the north side of the city of Ypsilanti and nestled into the campus of Eastern Michigan University sits an ominous white bubble looking building known by a few note worthy local dignitaries as the – Eastern Michigan University Practice Facility.
This particular gray overcast afternoon Uncle Mel spit out his wad of sunflower seeds into the muddy remains of what used to be a patch of green grass that is now a good size mud puddle and walked toward the space-like craft’s spinning doors.
Uncle Mel with stealth like movement slipped inside the dome building and inside nieces and nephews there was a lot of football activity taking place, that right Uncle Mel stumbled into the 2011 edition of sprig drills for Eastern Michigan University.
Quickly Uncle Mel looked for unknowing eyes that might have detected him but the security officer at the door was not paying attention and Uncle Mel took up a post and blended into the sidelines.
Scattered on the practice field eight small groups of football players dressed in pads and green helmets, the gladiators that will march into battle with their football coach Ron English.
Once upon a time Uncle Mel stood on the sidelines of a football practice and was told by a former Eastern Michigan University football coach that practice is mayhem and a chaotic mess.
The sounds of the game resonates, the smell of the game fills the atmosphere and the evident of hard work being performed on the field would raze the expectation to most football fans but here in Ypsilanti fans of Eastern Michigan University watch with caution optimism.
Eastern Michigan University football fans have earn that right because so many football seasons there has been bitter disappointment .
Uncle Mel has been covering Eastern Michigan University for 14 years and let your old uncle tell you how many winning seasons did Uncle Mel see – none that is right nieces and nephews – the grand total of zero.
In the middle of the field and standing on the block E that decorates the field, defensive backfield coach Phil Snow is busy teaching his new defensive backfield the do and don’t of playing a solid pass coverage.
Suddenly the noise got a little louder as unhappy Snow speaks loudly to his young defensive back recruit.
“What in the hell do you think you are doing?” Snow asked the bewilder cornerback wearing a black shirt with his head down listening to the direction his coach kept repeating and pointing down field. “Now try and figure this out quickly because we are counting on you!”
The defense have been given a code to try and live up to when they are on the football field given to them by Snow.
Basically it says I will hustle, I will display courage, I will know my assignment and I will care about my teammate.
Snow says that you do not need a great deal physical ability just honest effort and discipline to fulfill the commitment to the code.
Uncle Mel walks further into the depth of the white dome and saw offense formation in front of a defense formation with English standing off in the backfield evaluating players.
The ball is snapped and suddenly loud cheering erupts from the backfield and coaches from nowhere suddenly appear and they are patting players on the shoulder pads for doing the right thing – opening up a hole for running back Javonti Green to slip up into and Greene made a quick dart to his left and he displayed some speed.
The next play there was no cheering just angry coaches including English as he stared down a hopeful recruit playing linebacker Desdan Hester got an earful of direction and it was laced with choice description of his ability and effort.
“Just how many times are you going to get you ass beat,” assistant coach Steve Morrison said to Hester. “Just get in there and make the play!”
Suddenly a loud piercing siren is blaring through the dome and the request from English is barked loud enough over the noise and the special teams take over the field.
Standing in punt formation is last year’s punter Jay Karutz, he patiently waiting for the snap of the bal,l before he places his right foot into the ball and lifting up toward the ceiling.
Each punt produces a thunder like explosion off of his foot and each one echoes through the facility.
Karutz made at least one appearance in every game last season and he punted the ball 68 times and averaged 38.7 yards, he is from New South Wales Australia and will be a junior this football season.
The last exercise of the day included the punt team and coverage, when suddenly the cold glassy-glare from across the field spotted Uncle Mel but luckily for our favorite uncle the revolving door provided a quick retreat out of the doom and out into the rainy afternoon in Ypsilanti.
Uncle Mel grasping the information in his hand, he made his way to the mobile news vehicle, he could hear some faint voices ordering him to stop but Uncle Mel started the vehicle and drove away in the haze and gray wondering this!
Why is there so much secrecy?
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.