Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English said his staff would stick to its philosophy, despite starting 0-5, heading into Saturday’s game against Kent State. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Rynearson Stadium.
English said players are able to see through changes made just for the sake of change and it can be difficult to turn a historically losing program around if the coaching staff always alters its message.
The EMU players seemed pretty loose and upbeat at Wednesday’s practice. There were even some laughs when backup kicker Patrick Treppa attempted to return a punt for the scout team.
“If we get down on ourselves, I don’t think that does anybody any good,” said English, whose team has lost its first two Mid-American Conference games. “What we’re coaching them on, honestly, is still how to learn.”
He said it’s been difficult to get his players, who are all relatively new to the first-year coach’s offense and defense, to retain what they’ve learned. He said the team has played well in practice, including this week, but it hasn’t been able to translate that to the field.
English said a win this week against Kent State (2-4, 1-1) would give his team a much-needed boost of confidence, but it won’t be easy because KSU features what he called an “explosive” offense.
KSU scored 35 in a 1-point loss to Bowling Green on Saturday. That doesn’t look good, on paper at least, for EMU’s suspect defense that ranks 113th in the nation in points allowed per game (36). It allowed 56 to Central Michigan on Saturday.
The Eagles’ offense hasn’t been much better. It ranks 116th in scoring offense (16). English said quarterback Kyle McMahon, not Alex Gillett, is expected to start again Saturday.
Injuries have played a significant roll for the worse for EMU this season. Original starting quarterback Andy Schmitt and safety Ryan Downard suffered season-ending injuries, which left their positions in limbo.
Chris May and Jonte Lewis have split the two starts at strong safety since Downard’s injury. Lewis is listed No. 1 on this week’s depth chart.
English said he’d like his team to “turn it loose” and not play timid on game day.
“They’re conditioned to worry about mistakes,” he said. “As opposed to conditioned to learn about doing what it takes to make the plays. It may be a byproduct or a result of what’s happened here.”
Kent State won 14-6 in the last meeting between the teams in 2006.