YPSILANTI — The 2012 football season is just a few short days away and for Eastern Michigan University football squad, Thursday August 30, 2012 will open the 121st season of EMU football. The season will start with a Mid-American Conference opponent, under the lights and will be seen across the country on ESPN 3.
The Eagles will open the season against Ball State University at Scheumann Stadium under the stars in Muncie, Indiana starting at 7 p.m.
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English says he is ready to get the season started.
“I don’t know anybody that really wants to start to play an opener against a conference opponent,” English said Monday morning. “We are excited to be going down there. We hear it is going to be a terrific crowd. I’m excited to see what kind of team we have. Right now I can’t tell you what kind of team that we have because we have not dealt with adversity yet. I’m really excited to see this year’s team.
The success of the season is pretty simple for English and for the Eagle football fan, the progress of quarterback Alex Gillett is the key to the success, especially when he is passing the football.
Gillett is proven to be a tough quarterback, a four year player, he started 27 times in 33 games for his career as an Eagle and there is no doubt that he can rush with ball.
Last season, Gillett led the 16th best rushing team in the NCAA with 736 yards, he carried the ball 169 times and that is 169 times he received some kind of punishing hit which on many occasion just prove his toughness, but many would wonder if all those hits did not effect his ability to complete passes.
Gillett completed 55 percent of his passes last season for 1,504 yard, he threw 14 touchdown passes and he also threw seven interceptions but he started all 12 games for the Eagles.
In his career as the Eagles quarterback, Gillett rushed the ball 443 times for 1,986 yards and 10 touchdowns.
During the spring practice and the duration of the fall practice English and Gillett is working to improve Gillett’s passing game.
“He has a lot of experience, he is going to have some poise out there, he is going to have a frame of reference you know he has seen some things,” English said about his quarterback. “We recruited him and he is been here in my time and any time you have a veteran they are just comfortable they kinds’ know what is going on I think a lot of young players don’t really know what is going on there just trying to tying shoes up, get lined up right and look at the right key and that stuff. A veteran players is more aware of the situation, more aware of the ebb and the flow of the game and all of those type of things. I expect him be able to manage all of that on the field because he has some experience.”
English also said he wants his offense to score more points, he said field goals are good but touchdowns are better but he is looking for improvement in the red zone.
Stopping the other team from scoring points is the job of the Eagle defense and English and his defensive Coordinator Phil Snow feel that there are areas of the defense that will carry the expectation of the coaches just because of experience and hard work.
“Our linebackers are all back and they have really been pretty good force there and I like our defensive front. I think we recruited well, coach (Ken) Delgado our defensive line coach does a terrific job there,” English said about his defensive squad. “We have both corners come back. We are a little young at safety but we have a guy there a transfer in there will be a good player for us. I think we have taken the next step. We’re smarter football team, we are little more talented but I do think we are going to get better and better as the season goes.”
English said the play of the special team is important to a team’s success or a team’s failure but this season he feels confident with his special team with a veteran punter and place kicker that have been around the program for a couple of seasons.
The thunder from down under and the Eagles punter Jay Karutz a senior that calls from Australia home averaged 38.8 yards, 12 punts went more than 50 yards and 26 fell inside the 20-yard line.
Place kicker Kody Fulkerson only hit 67 percent of his field goals but he only missed three extra point attempts in 30 chances.
“Well we have a veteran punter coming back, we have veteran kicker coming back we have spent a lot time there and Ball State gave us many problems than anybody with their kickoff return unit, so our kickoff team will have to be ready to go,” English said. “In the first game you know a lot of mistakes are made in the kicking game because it is hard to simulate game speed in that area we spent a lot of time on special team and we will be prepared.”
Under the glow of an Indiana moon the 2012 season will begin to unfold for the Eastern Michigan University Eagles and English says his team the offense, the defense and the special team will be prepared for the game and for the season.
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.