YPSILANTI —- Oh my!
Nieces and nephews your old uncle is not feeling well, a two-day old upset stomach and Uncle Mel is not sure if it is the well done bar burger and the icy mug beverages consumed at Uncle Mel’s favorite place in all of Washtenaw County and inside the city limit of Ypsilanti.
Or it might be what your old Uncle Mel witnessed Saturday afternoon along with just 6,011 of his closes friends and relatives sitting in the cool-crisp air and a gray overcast sky gathering up the gray clouds as they drift toward the horizon.
Saturday was supposed to have been a day of celebration with friends, good music, good tailgating and good old fashion football being played inside the friendliest football venue in the Mid-American Conference and home to Eastern Michigan University Eagles and the 2012 edition of homecoming.
What was suppose to be, turned out to be something different all together, Kent State University defeated Eastern Michigan University 41-14, and threw a wet blanket over the party and snuffed out any kind of optimistic idea that the 2012 football season would have a mircle turn around. No Hollywood scripted story and making people sit up and take notice and want to see the brand of football being played in Ypsilanti.
Instead the atmosphere around the community is full of bitterness and disappointment, now remember niece and nephews the Eagles finished last season with an overall record of 6-6, and they looked like a team getting on the right track and making steady strides toward being a respectable football team.
The idea that this team might make some loud noise within the West Division and make the league take notice gave Uncle Mel goose pimples of excitement but the only thing that we have seen this season, is plenty of glances up toward the sky or looking down at your shoe tops and shaking your head in disbelief and asking the same question – what happen?
What happen to the supposed strength of the Eagles offense, the running game and the offensive line?
What happen to all of those giant strides, the pride and the desire and finally what about the improvement of making tackles, playing mistake free defense, understanding the defensive assignments and just being a solid defensive squad?
Even at the Mid-American Conference Media Day in the month of July, under the roof of Ford Field, in the city of Detroit, Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English described his team as being a confident group and being able to do the job out on the field because of the hard work and dedication to themselves and to the program.
Did English serve the media the Ford Field Special. A selection off of the media and fan menu, a great big heaping helping of corn bread smothered with sweet butter and a tall glass of Kool-Ade?
Now your, Uncle Mel have seen the first five games of the season along with English and what your old buddy is seeing, is a football coach trying his hardest to find any answer to the questions that his football team have raised.
After the first game, you remember the 37-26, lost down in Muncie, Indiana against West Division foe Ball Sate University, English described his team playing without fire and without desire.
“I didn’t think we played with any energy for what ever reason,” English said about his team against the Cardinals. “I thought when we had a chance to take control in the second quarter we were just lifeless.”
It got Uncle Mel to thinking, how can a football team not be excited to get the season started especially against a Mid-America Conference opponent?
The next game, the first home game of the season, you do remember the Illinois State University Redbirds paying a visit to Rynearson Stadium and leaving with a 31-14, win and after the game English said that he would fix the issues his team has by the next home game.
“We are not a good football team. We have too many penalties, we turn the football over and we don’t execute all of the time,” English said describing the Eagles against the Redbirds. “We got to get that fixed, it is a fine line. We will get it fixed!”
Against the Big Ten Conference teams that were on the schedule, the Eagles faced a good defense at Purdue University and at Michigan State University the Eagles saw a good running back and what English described as a pretty good defense.
The Eagle defense gave up 73 offensive plays and 576 yards of total offense to the Boilermakers. The Spartans also ran 73 offensive plays but only managed 428 yards of total yardage.
Purdue University put three scoring drives of over 90-yards and Spartan running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for 253 yards for the day.
After the Purdue game and preparing for the Michigan State University game, English started to fix what he believes is an issue with Eagles, he replaced senior quarterback Alex Gillett with sophomore quarterback Tyler Benz.
English benched Gillett midway in the third quarter down at Ross-Ade Stadium and put Benz under center. Benz performance earned him the next start at Spartan Stadium, Gillett made a token appearance against the Spartans running three plays in the second quarter and that was the end of Gillett’s day.
Eastern Michigan University total defense is 114th in the nation and is dead last in stopping the run, that right 120th in the nation, last in the NCAA.
So Saturday afternoon, the celebration of Homecoming turned into another disaster for the Eagles defense.
Kent State University ran a total of 81 plays and gain 467 yards of total offense which included 321 yards running the ball.
English wanted to limit the touches of the ball that Golden Flashes wide reciever and kickoff return specialist Dri Archer got for the game. That plan did not go so well either for English and the Eagles.
Archer gained a total of 222 yards of All-Purpose yardage including a 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown that opened up the second half of the game. Kent State University scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter.
The Eagles’ offense did show a glimmer of hope in the second quarter with a 68 yard touchdown run by tailback Bronson Hill.
Hill ran four times and gained 70 yards but there was no help from his team mates.
The running backs for the Eagles carried the ball 21 times for 107 yard total, Eastern Michigan University offense finished the game with 200 yards of offense.
Last season, Eastern Michigan University running game ranked 14th in the nation, this year the ground game in ranked 102nd in the NCAA. Nieces and nephews there are 120 teams playing football at the Bowl Subdivision and the Eagles’ total offense is 119th in the nation only Tulane University in New Orleans is worst.
Benz’s day was nothing spectacular he completed 52 percent of his passes for a grand total of 93 yards, one touchdown pass completed in the fourth quarter but two interception is a thorn but glaring at English is the 0 for 9 in third down conversions.
Gillett made a brief appearance in the third quarter against Kent State University. He ran three quarterback option plays for a grand total of six yards and he was done for the day.
English looked at Uncle Mel after the game against Kent State and said dramatically he sees no improvement – neither do the fans!
The 2012 football season is gone, the Eastern Michigan University football team is floundering and is sinking faster than a raft on the Huron River.
It is sad to feel and see the disappointment of high expectation come crashing to earth like a boulder in a canyon but that is how it is when you are a fan of Eastern Michigan University football – your expectations are never met.
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.