The Bull Run Inquisition: Eagle Totem

Buffaloinquisition2_medium

Its that time again, time to shake off an awful performance. After the past few week I sometimes wonder if I was only doing this when the program was on the upswing. I mean you don't see EMU blogs out there..

What the what! There *is* an EMU Blog out there! Carter Adler's "Eagle Totem" is a solid site which covers all things Eagles.  He has quickly found his place among MAC Blogger by speaking truth to power about everything right and wrong with Eastern Michigan Athletics.

Now normally I'd hate to take a long suffering fan into the torture chamber but with the implosion of Buffalo football this season I have to take my shots where I can get them so Carter was subjected to the Following Torture:

  • Watching every minute of the 2009 EMU season.

He hardly blinked! being an EMU fan had hardened him to the sufferings of his team. He was now callous to sloppy play. It was pretty apparent to break someone this trained in the way of pain was not going to break with simple gridiron humiliation. I knew then Iwas going to have to up my game. So I went to my ace in the hole for EMU fans.

  • Being Forced to wear Michigan Gear over CMU underware while on a date with a girl from WMU.

During the third course, right around the eighth time his date said "Coach Cubit says this is the year" he could take no more. Broken, Bitter, and looking rather dapper in Wolverine Blue he confessed the following.

Bull Run:  EMU has had a deceptively good season (for EMU). Close games to open against Army and Miami (two bowl teams), Hanging with the Cavs for half the game, and knocking down Ball State. The Buffalo game this week is a tossup. As a guy who follows the program are you seeing a corner being turned under Ron English?
 
Yes, though it's going slower than I had expected. My pre-season expectation for 2010 was 2-4 wins. The Eagles do still have a shot to get into that range on Saturday, but it's definitely not gone the way I'd hoped. Partly because English felt that it was necessary to "clean house" in the offseason -- 25 non-graduating players did not return from the 2009 team, partly due to players who didn't contribute as expected (Priest has struggled with an injury all season, slowing him down when he does play, Latarrius Thomas has lost most of the year to an injury, Ben Axon transferred out to a JUCO due to personal problems, etc.).
 
Bull Run: A follow up on Question number one: If you do see things turning around what kind of a time table do you see for EMU to become a six win team? If you don't see that turnaround what, in your opinion, needs to happen for the Eagles to start the long march to freedom.
 
I'm looking at 3-5 wins in 2011. In 2012, Gillett will be a senior, and EMU should have two good junior running backs in Javonti Greene and Mike Marrow. Kinsman Thomas will be a senior wide receiver, and Donald Scott will be a junior. Garrett Hoskins will be a senior tight end. Jay Karutz, the punter, will be a junior. My point is that a tremendous amount of our offensive production from this year will still be around two years from now. We've also got a fairly young o-line and d-line, with a bunch of young backups, so by 2012, EMU should be solid in the trenches as well, and the Eagles should finish above .500 for the first time in nearly two decades.
 
Bull Run: I have not seen an EMU game in several weeks what I saw early this season was Gillett running around like a wild man? Is he getting consistent help yet.
 
Gillett is still running around like a wild man (accounting for 2,201 yards of offense and 18 touchdowns), and he is getting help, but it's not consistent. One week it will be Dwayne Priest, another week it will be Corey Welch, another week it will be Javonti Greene (out of nowhere!). Part of that has to do with injuries. Part of it has to do with unimaginative and just plain predictable play-calling. Looking ahead to next year, I think Welch will be relegated to a backup role for his senior season, and Greene and Mike Marrow will get the starts and the bulk of the carries -- at least the ones Gillett doesn't keep for himself!
 
Bull Run: Lets assume you were the Buffalo Offensive Coordinator, you are averaging 11 points a game and have just lost the closest thing to a serviceable QB you have had since week one. How do you attack EMU's defense?
 
Take a lesson from Woody Hayes -- "only three things can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad". Don't pass the ball. Don't think about passing. Don't even think about thinking about...well, you get the idea. You may not have a great running back, but I bet you've got several ball carriers who are good enough to average at least 3 or 4 yards per carry against the Eagles' weak run defense. Toss in an occasional reverse or double reverse, but mostly, just run it up the middle. In other words, a "crunching, frontal assault of muscle against muscle, bone upon bone, will against will."
 
Bull Run: Watching Buffalo fall back into the sub-basement of the MAC can make one wonder if teams like UB and EMU are doomed to be the speed bump teams of their division. Program- and institution-wise why is this, or is this not, true?
 
I can't really speak for Buffalo, but I've spent a fair amount of time and space writing about why EMU has an institutional problem with football: the University of Michigan "kill zone", the death spiral, the school's name, the game day experience, recruiting, and why football is very different from basketball in this regard. The biggest problems at EMU that I haven't yet written about are the generic nickname "Eagles" and the historic role of the administration in bringing EMU to this point. I've got a huge amount to say on those topics, so I'm saving them for next summer. For now, let's just say that EMU is not "doomed" -- decades of bad administrative decisions have put the school in this position.
 
Bull Run: Is this going to be an evenly matched entertaining game or is this going to be world class ugly on both sidelines?
 
I'm guessing a little bit ugly, but a lot of entertaining.
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