ROMULUS, Mich. —- Deep inside the news room that is located in the city that is the gateway to the world, Uncle Mel is sitting in his plush oversized chair and is monitoring the performance of the Eastern Michigan University football team against another member of the Big Ten Conference.
Eastern Michigan University enter the game this Saturday afternoon against Penn State University with a record of 2-1 but after 60 minutes of football the Eagles suffered their second loss of the season falling to the Nittany Lions 34-6 in front of a Penn State University crowd of 95,936 that did not leave their seats inside Beaver Stadium until the end of the game.
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English was hoping that the Eagles could use the game against the Nittany Lions as a statement game for his program especially since the game was televised across the nation.
English wanted to show to America that his program is on solid ground and a team that will make some type of noise and grow stronger this season.
Last season Uncle Mel worried about the Eagles defense and the poor execution of play with the missed tackles, missed assignments and a defensive coordinator looking toward the sky looking for an answer from heaven above but that was last season.
This season the defense for the Eagles is showing up to play and determine to keep the Eagles in many games even in places like Michigan Stadium and Beaver Stadium and they have played with determination even when they are out muscled and playing against superior athletes.
The Eagle defense gave up 468 yards of offense to the Nittany Lions and the Eagle pass defense allowed Penn State to throw a touchdown for the first time this season.
“The defense came out and played really well in the first half,” English said about the play of the Eagles defense. “Justin (Cudworth) is flying around and getting better, Latarrius Thomas did some nice things and senior Brad Ohrman did some nice things.”
The question so far this season that many Eagle fans are wondering about is simply what is wrong with the offense?
Last season Eastern Michigan University offense carried the play for the Eagles and quarterback Alex Gillett looked like a leader on the field. Gillett led the Eagles running game with 776 yards and he passed the ball for 1,633 yards with 13 touchdown passes.
English said during the fall workouts that he wanted Gillett to make better decisions on the field and improve his accuracy when throwing the ball.
“We know that we are going to have to throw the ball in our league,” English said. “We wanted to throw a certain amount of times in this game. We wanted to throw it 20-30 times.”
Gillett’s decision making against the Nittany Lions lacked improvement and at times it looks like he is struggling with the offense.
Gillett is a junior this season and he started 19 times for the Eagles and it is apparent if Gillett is having a good day then Eastern Michigan University is going to have a good day.
Gillett’s day under the blue sky of a Pennsylvania autumn day did not go so well, he ran the ball 15 times for a total of 22 yards, he fumbled the ball twice, he threw an interception and when the Eagles had the ball deep in the red zone against the Nittany Lions defense beause he miss fired his passing attempts forcing the Eagles to be happy with field goals instead of touchdowns.
The coaching decision to start the second half with Gillett seemed to be in jeopardy because with just 1:43 left to play in the first half Gillett over threw his target and the ball was intercepted by Penn State defensive back Nick Suckey he ran the ball back for 14 yards and put the Lions in great field position at the Eagle’s 31-yard line.
It just took the Nittany Lions just 47 second to score a touchdown when Penn State University quarterback Matt McGlion completed a 5-yard pass to Derek Moye for the score, it was the second touchdown pass of the day for McGlion.
English looked very angry toward his quarterback and as he fumed he paced the sideline and wondered about out loud the ability of his team’s offense.
“The last turnover really hurt our team,” English said about the Gillett’s interception late in the first half.
Eastern Michigan University finished the day by getting just 270 yards of total offense.
“They did the things they wanted to do and the things they have done,” English said about the play of the Nittany Lions offense and defense. “I think today they just did them better and made some plays. They made plays today – more than we did.”
Eastern Michigan University will be home next Saturday afternoon October 1, 2011 to open up the Mid-American Conference season. The Eagles will be facing the University of Akron and the kickoff is schedule for 1 p.m. at Rynearson Stadium.
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.