ROMULUS — So you see, your old buddy Uncle Mel could not make the short trip across the county to were the Red Cedar River quietly flows, where the skyline of the area is graced by the rotunda of the state capital and it is the place were Michigan State University calls home – the beautiful city of East Lansing, Michigan.
Being under the weather and under a doctor’s care, your favorite Uncle Mel needed to rest and recuperate at the home in order to fight off the infection and the physician also instructed your Uncle Mel to limit his excitement.
Now imagine if you will, sitting in the official Uncle Mel’s home entertainment center. You are sitting comfortable in the over-stuffed recliner, with a wide-screen television in high definition complete with surround stereo sound system and watching Eastern Michigan University football being broadcast across the nation.
Uncle Mel almost fell out of the recliner, almost knocking over the huge bowl of popcorn and the delicious snack tray that included a delicious cheese ball and dropping the pitcher of the almost frozen drink that keeps Uncle Mel hanging on, when he saw the image on display on the high definition television.
No, it was not the fact that the Eagles won the coin toss and deferred until the second half but on the first offensive possession for the Eagles, breaking the huddle and following Eagle’s center Andrew Sorgatz to the line of scrimmage was not Alex Gillett but sophomore quarterback Tyler Benz.
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English with his baseball cap pulled down across his eyes to disguise the seriousness of his mood. He stood on the sideline inside Spartan Stadium with his hand rubbing at his chin whiskers with a glare and a look of determination that he is confident about this change unfolding in front of him.
English said after the Eagles were soundly defeated at Purdue University that he is going to find players that will do the job, Uncle Mel did not think that one of the players that was going to find the bench a comfortable place to watch a football game would be Gillett.
“I just think that we are not executing, we are not a good football team. We have too many penalties and we turn the ball over,” English said about his team before the Michigan State University game. “We don’t execute all of the time and so we got to fix it and we will get it fixed!”
Uncle Mel is guessing along with the rest of the Eagle football fans. Getting the program fixed and on the road to recovery is that you bench a four year starter at quarterback for a sophomore quarterback.
When asked if the decision to replace Gillett with Benz a game time decision English said, “No!”
Gillett has been ineffective, his accuracy when throwing the ball has always been under scrutiny at Eastern Michigan, in fact English said during spring football and during the fall practices that the work in the passing game is always a work in progress.
English said, what he wants, is for Gillett to make better decisions with the ball, when to pass, where to pass and when to tuck the ball away and do what Gillett does better than a lot of quarterbacks and that is scrambling around and making something from nothing.
Eastern Michigan University is a football team that is not a finesse team, English is a graduate of the old school. His philosophy about football is simple to understand. First your team will be physical and second establish a strong ground game. Last season the Eagles ground game was ranked 14th in the nation and Gillett led the Eagles on the ground with 776 yards.
This season the Eagles running game was supposed to be a strength, the passing game would be better and the results would be more points and more wins for the Eagles.
So far, the Eagles have averaged just 16 points and have only averaged a unimpressive 127 yards on the ground after four games.
What about the stable of running backs?
Maybe a better questions is, Where are the running backs?
Where is Javonti Greene or Dominique Sherrer responsibility in helping the Eagles’ offense?
Greene made a lot of noise and raised a few eye brows two years ago especially at the University of Virginia when he scored two touchdowns of more than 50 yards. Sherrer is a talented running back with plenty of potential but so far he is late getting to the hole and he makes a lot of cuts into the pile of blockers.
The success of the running game, English said, that it all starts with the men in the trenches, the offensive line. He said they have been pushed around and in fact English has told his assistant coach to start from the beginning with the offensive line and do not take anything for granted.
“We don’t knock anybody off of the ball,” English said. “We have not been able to run the ball this year yet!”
Benz did come off the bench during the second half at Purdue and he did get the Eagles to the end zone.
The Spartans defeated the Eagles 23-7, yes it is a lost but the Eagles were a 33 point underdogs and held the lead against the Spartans at halftime.
“I like him. I liked him out there,” English said about Benz. “I like his poise against a hell of a defense. He was 13 of 26 for 137 yards and no pick. I’ll take that all day long, I really liked his poise and his demeanor.”
Gillette did make an appearance against the Spartans but English did not like what he saw from the performance. The offense did not respond and there just seemed to be an uneasiness about the offense. English did not hesitate to put Benz right back into the game and sit Gillett.
English has never been comfortable with Gillett’s style. He looks like he is going 100 miles an hour but he is not going anywhere and some of his decisions during a game has pushed English’s blood pressure and his patience to the limit.
Gillett stepped into the starting position with plenty of fortitude, his toughness has never been a question and neither is his loyalty to English’s philosophy and to his team mates of the Eastern Michigan University football program.
During the bye week, English and his assistant coaches will discuss the idea of playing the rest of the season with duo-quarterback system, does your old Uncle Mel see that coming and is that the answer to help the offense – No!
English said there is no quarterback controversy on the field or in the locker room at Eastern Michigan University.
“We are not playing well enough to have a quarterback controversy,” English said while chuckling.
There is plenty of disappointment so far this season, the 0-4 start is dishearten because of the hope of the fans that the Eagles were making strides and improving.
A lot of ill-feelings can be cured next Saturday October 6, 2012 at Rynearson Stadium when the Eagles get back into action against Kent State University. The home coming game is schedule to start at 1 p.m.
A win against the Golden Flashes will just make everybody feel better and for a short time cure what is making the Eagle football fans sick- losing too many football games.
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.