It was another big rushing output for Eastern Michigan University’s opponent Saturday.
After giving up 300 rushing yards to Army to open up the season, one might have thought such would be a statistical anomaly, but for the Eagles it’s proved to be the norm.
The EMU defense gave up 185 rushing yards to Northwestern University, 380 to the University of Michigan and 242 to Temple University on Saturday. It allows 276.8 rushing yards per game, which is second to last in the nation ahead of only Western Kentucky (299.8).
EMU has the country’s best pass defense (89.3), but it’s mainly because the opposition doesn’t try to pass often because their run game is so effective.
“I don’t know if somebody is waiting for someone else to make a play or what the issue is,” EMU coach Ron English said.
“I’m frustrated with the run defense. I’m frustrated really with the defense, period. I mean it’s ridiculous. The way we play defense here is a travesty.
“What we have to do is look at ourselves as a staff and figure out how to get this thing fixed. I don’t think it’s all on the players. I think it’s coaches and everyone involved with it – myself included.”
EMU has a tendency to get off to a slow start and fall behind early, in addition to the suspect rush defense. It’s been outscored 37-3 in the first quarter.
“Our inability to score when we need to score, take advantage of field position and to eliminate big plays is really, really hamstringing our team,” English said.
“A function of that, particularly defensively, is you have to play this game with great emotion and great enthusiasm, and we do not seem to be able to do that for four quarters.
“We need to make sure that we address the issues. If the issue is we’re coming out flat then maybe we need to start off practice practicing enthusiasm. But trust me, believe me, we’ll get it corrected this week.”
Downard out for season
To add to the defensive troubles, junior defensive back Ryan Downard broke his left arm in practice last week and will miss the rest of the season, said EMU Sports Information Director Jim Streeter.
The 6-foot-1, 201-pound safety finished the season with 13 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. Senior Chris May started in his place and had two tackles.
McMahon gets call
After losing fifth-year senior and fourth-year starter Andy Schmitt to a season-ending knee injury against U-M on Sept. 19, EMU wasn’t sure if it was going to use two quarterbacks or one to fill the void.
There was a possibility of Kyle McMahon and Alex Gillett sharing playing time, but it was apparent Saturday, for at least one game, that wouldn’t be the case.
McMahon started and finished 25-of-36 passing for 230 yards and one interception. He had three carries for 9 yards, too. Gillett didn’t play.
“The numbers were decent,” English said of McMahon. “They are what they are. There are just some mechanical issues we need to correct. He gave a good effort, and he had good numbers.”
Temple coach Al Golden praised McMahon, though.
“I think he’s a good player,” Golden said. “I don’t think people realize how fast he is. He threw the ball well underneath, made good decisions, and he conducted the game.”