The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for EMU. The past four weeks have been a wild ride for the football team here at Eastern Michigan University.
After the tragic events involving the passing of Demarius Reed, less than a month ago, the Eagles endured an eight-game losing streak, the firing of a head coach and ending that eight-game skid in a dramatic overtime win against Western Michigan University.
When former coach Ron English was fired less than 24 hours before kickoff against WMU last Saturday, offensive coordinator Stan Parrish was called in to take over for the remainder of the season.
“I’m just the relief pitcher taking this thing home,” Parrish said after the win. “That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
But filling in for English isn’t such an easy task.
“Coach [English] was one of my best friends,” Parrish said. “And that’s hard.”
For Parrish and the Eagles, a bye week is exactly what the doctor ordered.
“With the coaching change happening so soon before the previous game, the coaching staff and Stan Parrish will be probably really be happy to have that bye week to prepare, especially considering they have to play Bowling Green in what’s going to be a pretty tough game,” Jeremy Rosenberg of the Eagle Totem said.
After the Eagles break down their performance from last week, they just might have some things to look into for the two remaining games.
Junior running back Ryan Brumfield put up career game-highs with his 148 yards on 15 carries and two rushing touchdowns, including the game winner. Starting junior back Bronson Hill stepped up as well, going 111 yards on 24 carries and a TD.
EMU may have to lean on its running backs to get offensive production in its last home game of the season.
“I would anticipate that they’ll continue to use Hill a lot, but also work in Brumfield, and hope that they can become a two-headed monster in the backfield,” Rosenberg said. “The question I guess we’ll see: ‘Is Bowling Green going to alter their defense knowing that Eastern is going to try to the run the ball so much? Are they going to try to stack the box?’”
BGSU specializes in the passing game, also. Matt Johnson is ranked second among Mid-American Conference quarterbacks in passing yards, with 2,308. Against a team that has the second-worst pass defense in the MAC, the sophomore poses a serious threat to the Eagles.
He led the Falcons (7-3, 5-1 MAC) to a 49-0 win over Ohio University Tuesday night, passing 12-for-17 for 229 yards and two TD’s.
The following week, the Eagles will head up to Mount Pleasant to face Central Michigan University (3-6, 2-3 MAC) in their season finale, where they look to take home their third consecutive Michigan MAC Trophy.
The Chippewas have an ace under center as well with redshirt freshman Cooper Rush as their quarterback. The Charlotte, Mich. native’s 232.4 passing yards per game is third in the MAC as he’s thrown for 12 TD’s and 11 interceptions this season.
Johnson and Rush will certainly be good measuring sticks to see how much EMU freshman quarterback Brogan Roback has progressed over his first couple of starts.
“I can see all of the potential in [Roback], but I also think he shows his youth,” Rosenberg said.
Roback went 9-for-22 for 136 yards and a passing TD against WMU to follow up his 209-yard two TD performance at the University of Toledo.
The penultimate home game for EMU football is a week away, and it will be interesting to see CMU game pans out on the road.
Will the team remain successful splitting time between Hill and Brumfield? Can Roback be a consistent leader of this team’s offense like he showed in the fourth quarter game-tying drive against WMU?
These final weeks may give us a taste of what EMU football will be like in 2014.
Follow Derrick Vergolini on Twitter: @DerrickVergo