YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Eastern Michigan University started the 2011 football season with a 41-9 victory against Howard University at Rynearson Stadium Sunday Sept.4, 2011.
The victory is pleasing to most Eastern Michigan University football fans that follow the Eagles but for Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English he watched the game from a different angle and now it is time to focus on this week’s opponent Alabama State University.
For Alabama State University, the game against Eastern Michigan University is not the typical big-name opponent that is not going to create a great deal of attention in most circles of college football fans but for the Hornets it is chance to gauge their brand of football.
The two schools have never met in any sport but this is a game that Hornets football coach Reggie Barlow and his players have been talking about since last season.
“It is a good opportunity not only for the program but as individuals. You want to compare yourself to those type of guys that are playing at a bigger level,” Alabama State University wide receiver Nick Andrews said. “You want to see how well you match up with those guys.”
Before the game against the Bison, English wanted to see improvement from his quarterback Alex Gillett in two areas, the first area of concern is Gillett accuracy when throwing the ball and second he wanted to see Gillett make better decision on the field.
English said what he respects about Gillet, is that he makes things happen for example when Gillett pulls down the ball and scrambles out of the pocket and then heads up field.
Last season Gillett led the Eagle rushing game with 766 yards which English says that is too much punishment for his quarterback to absorb.
English said he thought that the running game had some nice moments agaisnt Howard University.
Against the Hornets, Eastern Michigan University tailbacks Dominique Sherrer and Javonti Greene will be counted on and help relieved some of the offensive pressure from Gillett.
Sherrer and Greene both accepted the challenge against Howard University defense both halfbacks sliced and diced the Bison defense, both runners touched the ball 14 times and both tailbacks run for 120 yards and each runner found the end zone once.
Gillett contributed to the run game against the Bison defense, he ran 13 times for 76 yards and he also scored a rushing touchdown.
The running game produced 326 yards of offense and scored three touchdowns against Howard University but English is hesitant to read too much into the result but Barlow is paying close attention to the Eagles rushing game.
“The running game is their strength,” Barlow said. “In order for us to have an opportunity to win and have success against them, we are going to have to stop the running game because the passing game is not on track right now. If we can stop the running game and force them to do something they do not want to do and right now that is passing we may have an opportunity to have some success against them.”
The Eagles offense needs to keep the ball on the ground which will control the clock and the Eagles can not committ any turnovers and the passing attack is going to balance the running game and give the Eagle offense creditability.
English and Defensive Coordinator Phil Snow continues to evaluate the defensive improvement but English says some of the improvement is because they have found some talent that has been a missing element from the program.
“Well I think they know what to do better we have added some pieces,” English said about his defense. “I want us to rush the passer better out of a four-man rush but we have added dome perimeter guys that can ran around and make some plays.”
One piece that English added to the defensive backfield is a student-athlete transfer from UCLA, Marlon Pollard and he made his present felt when he intercepted his first pass as an Eagle.
Another piece to the defensive puzzle is outside linebacker and he is also a transfer student-athlete from California and he is described as a big time player by English.
Justin Cudworth transfer from the College of the Canyons and liked what he saw in Ypsilanti on a visit and Cudworth said he came to Eastern Michigan University because they had a spot for him.
Cudworth showed command of the defense against the Howard University offense and it was evident when he placed a bone crushing hit on Bison tailback Charles Brice and what was described by Howard University football coach Gary Harrell as a perfect tackle.
Cudworth led the Eagle defense against Howard University with 13 tackles.
“Coach Snow and myself have developed a position for a guy what Cudworth can do,” English said about Cudworth. “He is athletic, he can tackle, he is physical and he is going to get smarter and smarter. I am really excited about Cudworth.”
The Eagle defense will have to rely upon the defensive line to apply pressure, collapse the pocket and force Alabama State University freshman quarterback Greg Jenkins into making poor on the field decision.
If the defensive front four can apply enough pressure and force the Hornet offense to become one dimension then the job of the linebackers and the defensive backfield will need to step up make plays and force turnovers.
“Coach (Kevin) Delgado has a done a nice job with the front,” English said about the defensive line.
Eastern Michigan University football program is still a work in progress and English is ready to continue the process and he says it just takes time and players have to trust the system.
The Eagles need to validate the victory against Howard University by taking care of business against Alabama State University, Saturday afternoon September 10, 2011 at Rynearson Stadium, the kickoff is schedule for 1 p.m.
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.