EMU offense needs to ignite to beat Ohio
Bronson Hill’s 234 all-purpose yards in last week’s loss at Army were the most by an Eagle this season.
Eastern Michigan University (1-5, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) will look for its junior running back to lead the offense in Saturday’s matchup against the Ohio University Bobcats (4-2, 1-1 MAC) at Rynearson Stadium at 1 p.m.
Hill put together 143 rushing yards on 20 carries and four receptions for 91 yards with a touchdown both rushing and receiving to fire up the Eagles offense early in the game last Saturday.
“He did some good things,” head coach Ron English said in the MAC’s weekly teleconference Monday. “When he can get into space, he’s pretty dynamic.”
EMU is looking for Hill’s success to remain consistent against a Bobcats team with the best run defense in the MAC, averaging 139.7 rushing yards per game. OU has allowed 21.7 points per game, which is second best in the MAC.
The Eagles will also look for redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz to carry a decent portion of the load offensively, as well. Benz is coming off a game where he went 17-for-26 with 223 yards passing, including two TD’s and an interception. He has seven touchdowns and six interceptions on the season.
Benz will look for his top wide receiver in sophomore Dustin Creel, who had a touchdown reception last week, giving him two this season alongside 271 reception yards. Junior tight end Tyreese Russell leads EMU with 28 receptions for 290 yards.
“They’ll be a physical football team [offensively],” Bobcats coach Frank Solich said. “They’ll be a team that lines up with experience. There are eight returning starters playing for them right now.”
OU will be coming to Rynearson with a sour taste in its mouth after being upset by Central Michigan University last week when a last minute TD put CMU ahead for a 26-23 win.
“They lost a tough one,” English said. “I thought Central did a great job of turning the ball over.”
“We did not play a very good first half of football,” Solich said.
The Bobcats will be led by a quarterback that’s been efficient all season. Senior Tyler Tettleton leads the MAC completing 66.2 percent of his passes. He has 1,348 yards throwing with 10 TD’s and 5 interceptions.
Tettleton is the son of former Detroit Tigers catcher Mickey Tettleton.
He threw two TD’s and two interceptions last week. He also threw for 319 yards, a season-best.
“Their quarterback is playing well,” English said.
Despite completing passes to nine different receivers last week, he has had three go-to wide receivers this season: seniors Donte Foster and Matt Waters, and junior Chase Cochran. They each have two touchdowns this season.
Foster has 31 receptions for 453 yards and averages 75.5 reception yards per game, ranking him sixth in the MAC.
Running the ball for the Bobcats will be senior backs Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin.
Blankenship has seen more touches with 86 for 316 yards and two touchdowns while Boykin has been the team’s short-yardage guy with three TD’s (four total) inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.
“Our running game is still not where it needs to be,” Solich said. “We can certainly get a lot of work done on that.”
Ohio University has dominated the teams’ MAC East-West matchup in recent meetings.
The Bobcats are in the midst of a five-game win streak, which began in the 2002 season. They have won eight of the last nine over EMU.
The Eagles’ last win was Oct. 16, 1999, a 27-26 victory.
OU leads the all-time series 17-11-1.
Keys to the Game:
Turnovers: OU turned the ball over four times against CMU last week, bumping its turnover total to 12. Opponents have also turned the ball over 12 times.
The Eagles have 11 turnovers, including seven interceptions between two quarterbacks. The team’s turnover margin is -6.
Bobcats Rushing Defense: EMU will likely use its running game more after Hill’s performance last week, so look for the way the Bobcats handle it. OU has allowed just 836 yards and five TD’s rushing in six games this season.
Players to Watch:
EMU Jr. RB Bronson Hill: After his breakout game last week, expect English to use Hill’s versatility to try to creating some offensive production. He showed his ability to catch the ball last week with 91 yards in just 4 receptions, which means he can use his running ability to gain extra yards in the air.
OU Jr. WR Chase Cochran: He’s coming off of his best game of the season from last week’s loss with three catches for 122 yards and a 69-yard TD he caught from Tettleton. Although he didn’t get thrown to as much as Foster, Tettleton might look for him more after his explosive week.