Five things to take away from Eastern Michigan’s 51-7 loss to Western Michigan.
Bell is back
Reggie Bell returned after suffering a concussion against Central Michigan two weeks ago. He was 14-of-22 for 283 yards (career-high), a touchdown and two interceptions.
Bell also had 19 carries for 48 yards and lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Despite the score, he showed me what I already knew about this offense at this stage of the season – he is the offense.
Bell did a good job for a freshman coming off a concussion – he read zones adequately and didn’t consistently over throw receivers.
The offensive line didn’t do him any favors – allowing the young quarterback to be sacked six times.
This is the home stretch and I don’t expect Creighton to bench him for anything less than pick-sixes on consecutive drives. Bell is the quarterback and even with the score out of hand Rob Bolden and the recently cleared Brogan Roback stayed on the sidelines. I don’t think we’ll see much of them for the rest of the year.
The ground game
Bell gained 81 yards – but lost 48 in the contest. Bronson Hill (eight carries, 29 yards), Ryan Brumfield (six carries, 11 yards) and Tyler Allen (two carries, 11 yards) also saw some time in the backfield.
I was surprised to see Allen utilized in the run game, but not disappointed. For a running back corps that has struggled most of the season, I was impressed to see offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer call plays that highlighted someone not named Bell.
Things won’t get any easier for EMU the next two weeks – but it’s refreshing to see that other players can get involved in the offense.
To put it simply – the secondary was practically non-existent Saturday. Three of Zach Terrell’s four touchdown passes came on plays longer than 40 yards.
Terrell finished the day with 357 yards passing.
Western’s two rushing touchdowns from Terrell (1-yard) and Dareyon Chance (1-yard) came on goal line situations.
As a team, the Broncos gained 137 yards.
“We did better against the run,” EMU coach Chris Creighton said.
Owen Dubiel – named to the Ray Guy Award watch list – punted six times for 219 yards Saturday.
The problem is his punts were all over the place. Most were low line drives with no particular target while his one deep punt was negated when Kenny Jones annihilated Braverman – also WMU’s punt returner – before he had the ball.
I understand the strategy of adjusting to a particular returner – especially when Western scored on a 93-yard kickoff return to start the game – but you can do that and still be consistent.
I still haven’t seen that from Dubiel.
This is the home stretch for Eastern. I honestly don’t see the Eagles winning another game this season – but that’s okay. This season was the start of a rebuilding process and the next two games should be about seeing this team finish strong – no matter what the scoreboard reads.
Creighton took over a team that was in shambles and has done a remarkable job of changing the culture in less than a year. There is still a lot of work to do, but that comes with patience and good recruiting – in that regard I have much more confidence than I did in the last guy.
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho