Commentary: EMU Football closes losing season

Eagle defenders Ryan Downard and Steve Brown, chase Huskie running back Chad Spann as he runs a 71-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of their MAC football game at Rynearson Stadium. Northern Illinois would go on to hand Eastern a loss in their last game Friday.

Black Friday couldn’t have described the mood better at Rynearson Stadium. Northern Illinois lambasted Eastern Michigan University football 71-3 and it looked as though the team didn’t want to be there anymore than the rest of us did. Even with it being senior day, the team couldn’t compete with the Huskies.

There were harder fought battles when stores opened up Friday morning for their “Black Friday” sales. It was probably tougher for you to get to the front of a line at your local department store than it was for the Mid-American Conference West division champion Huskies to get to the end zone.

Northern Illinois put up video game-like numbers against the Eagles’ defense, rushing 544 yards and totaling 646 yards.

“I thought we prepared decently,” Said EMU Coach Ron English, whose team was 2-10 this season and 2-6 in the MAC. “That team (NIU) is going to hit you in the mouth, you got to want to play today, and it didn’t look like they wanted to play.”

Second-string quarterback Jordan Lynch carried twice for the Huskies and rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw the only NIU pass of the second half and completed it.

“When the score got out of hand, we wanted to get out of there, we wanted to run out that clock.” English said.

Starting tailback Chad Spann tied the single-season touchdown record with his first rushing touchdown of the game, a 71-yard scamper that put the Huskies up 6-0 in the first quarter. He later broke the record on a 2-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter to make it 20-0.

In the second half the Huskies only threw once.

The Huskies mercifully tried to wind down the clock the entire second half. Instead they couldn’t help but score on run plays meant to speed-up the game clock. NIU still managed to score 34 points in the final two quarters.

Maybe it was the chilly temperature on Friday, or maybe it was just because this season of football for folks in Michigan is mostly disappointment for every team (except for you Sparty), but one couldn’t help but be numb at this loss. This type of loss is the icing on a loser cake that is getting easier and easier to swallow for us here at Eastern Michigan.

This team is a hard one to believe in, even moving forward.

NI-vs-EMU-15
By Joe Sharp / The Eastern Echo
Huskie Willie Clark makes a leaping touchdown catch over Arrington Hicks of Eastern, during the second quarter. Eastern would only score 3 points against the Huskies’ 71. Coach English commented the team “didn’t look like they wanted to play” this freezing Black Friday game.

English, who is 2-22 overall and 2-14 in the MAC, has mentioned several times there are still players in that locker room who don’t seem to be all in with the program. The mood on Friday in the team building conveyed everything you need to know about this football team.

This team never expected for one second to compete with its opponent. This team was happy to get in the warmth of the building and forget about football altogether. The mood in the locker room actually reminded me of the rest of the school’s attitude toward athletics at Eastern. Well after this game I have to ask, if they don’t care, why should the rest of us?

Part of that might be because English is such a straightforward guy. English is a guy who has no problem answering questions point blank, and bluntly telling you how he feels. As a member of the media, this is a dream come true, but I also wonder how this translates in the locker room?

English has had no problem telling us that his players are flat out not good enough. He has said he doesn’t have the players to compete in a lot of games. Obviously those things are true in this team, but if one of his players hears him talk like that, could that be the reason you get such un-inspired games from this Eagles team?

“You can’t play defense without good defensive players. And we don’t have even close to enough good defensive players in this program,” English said.

Is it true? Yes. Hopefully, this isn’t the kind of talk that goes on in the locker room because that is the sound of a coach who doesn’t believe in his players, specifically the players he didn’t recruit.

Regardless of his players’ performance on the Friday game, English thanked his seniors.

“I appreciate what they did. Going through a transition is tough.” English said. “In any event I told them thank you, they’ve helped us more than they know.”

English seems very comfortable for a man who has won two games in two seasons. It will be interesting to see any moving forward if the players he has coming in buy-in more than the players he inherited.

When asked about the progress of this football team, English said, “Most the people here now want to play football,” as one of the improvements of his team.

Looking forward to next season, and years ahead, English will look to improve upon his swiss cheese-like defense.

“Most of the class will be defense, this thing is going to be built in stages, and we don’t have 25 scholarships.” English said. “We have to go out and get some defensive players. Our offense is only going to get better, defensively we are going to have to support the offense better.”

Unfortunately, after the 2010 season we don’t have many more answers than we had going into the season.
For more information make sure you check back with the Echo sports page, and follow us at @Echo_sportspage for live updates from games, and the latest on EMU sports.


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