Excitement, commitment, intensity and anticipation. Not only are all of these things that are needed in order to go from the bottom of the barrel, but they are also words you can use to describe Eastern Michigan University’s 2010 football team.
It may not be what you expected but as redshirt-freshman wide receiver Terrance Gourdine said, “We will show everyone that we are in a new era.”
After literally hitting rock bottom last season and being ranked the worst team in the nation, head coach Ron English certainly had his work cut out for him. But when you’re at the bottom, the only direction you can go is up and moving forward with each day has been Eastern’s focus this summer.
“We’ve laid a foundation and now we are growing faster,” said senior defensive back Ryan Downard.
The 2010 schedule for the Eagles is no walk in the park. They open their season against Army, who is ranked 44 nationally. Also, midway through the season they will travel to Columbus, Ohio and face off with Ohio State.
So, how do you take the worst team and make them a competition for some of the best? In the MAC, a conference that primarily uses passing, most of the pressure will fall on the quarterbacks.
EMU’s 2010 lineup of quarterbacks includes two returning players competing for a starting position, and one freshman.
First in the lineup is sophomore, Alex Gillett, who stepped in last year after senior Andy Schmitt suffered a season-ending injury at Michigan Stadium. Gillett is a better runner than he is passer and had a huge impact on the Eagles last season.
Next up is the 6-foot-6 red shirt freshman, Devontae Payne, who could be considered the passer of the team.
In his senior year of High School, Payne passed for 1,363 yards, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions and has a very strong arm. So, where Payne offers the direct skill that the Eagles seem to need, Gillett brings experience and opportunity to switch up the offense.
The Eagles have also had a problem in the past with a push over defense. This year they’ve added some size to their roster. The focus for their defense seems to right on; if they’re going to win, make them deserve it.
It’s been said many times that “offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.” So it will be equally important for the defense to come out with the mindset that they’re not letting anyone into the end zone because how will they win if they don’t get there?
In English’s second year at EMU it may not be so much about winning and losing. Yes, the winning record will put them higher up in the rankings. However with the teams on Eastern’s schedule it may be more about their mindset and what happens during the game than the score that’s left on the board after the game.
On top of that, what Ypsilanti is really in need of is the energy that comes along with games not being over before the clock reads zero.