This week we will definitively learn the answer to the question, "Should Morgan Burke have hired Brock Spack instead of Danny Hope." Spack was lock suspected to be the heir apparent to Joe Tiller, and he would like Purdue's head coach right now if his defense had not totally gone in the tank starting in 2005. Spack's defenses from 2001-2004 were pretty good and the talent was there in 2005 for a special season. They then totally sucked for six weeks (Minnesota, Notre Dame, Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Penn State) and never really recovered.
Spack, of course, is now the head coach at Illinois State, and his FCS charges easily beat Eastern Michigan last week 31-14 in Ypsilanti. I don't want to take anything away from Brock Spack's team, but if we cannot beat an FBS that lost by double digits to an FCS team we should probably give up on the rest of the season.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
2011 Record: 6-6
2012 Record: 0-2 (0-1 MAC West)
Bowl Result: None (EMU has not been in a bowl since 1987 and hasn't had a winning season since 1995).
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Purdue Won 49-3 on 9/7/1991
Time & TV: Noon ET on Big Ten Network
Line: Purdue by 24
The only time Purdue and Eastern Michigan ever met on the football field a minor miracle happened. It actually gave Jim "A tie is as good as a win in the Big Ten" Colletto a winning record at Purdue. This was mostly because it was Colletto's first game as head coach. Purdue would lose its next two game and Colletto would get to .500 at 2-2 and 3-3 that season, but would never again be on the happy side of .500.
That was ancient history, however. Most of the players on both teams weren't even born the last time these two played, but it has been even longer since the Eagles had any major success. Last year's 6-6 mark was a program best since going 7-3-1 in 1989. Historically, they are bad even for a MAC team.
Ron English took over as head coach in 2009 and ironically played against Purdue for California back in 1989 in the game after we last played EMU. He is 8-28 in three rough seasons, but appeared to have things pointed forward with last year's 6-6 campaign. EMU beat two FCS teams and even beat Western Michigan (our bowl opponent) 14-10. Unfortunately, this season has started with losses to Ball State and Illinois State.
Eastern Michigan Offense Vs. The Purdue Defense:
Quarterback Alex Gillet does a little bit of everything for EMU. He has rushed for 130 of their 283 yards on the ground and two touchdowns and thrown for 331 yards and four touchdowns. His completion percentage is a pretty dismal 44%, however, and he has three interceptions. I expect him to be on the run from Kawann Short, Ryan Russell, and the rest of the defensive line all day.
As Carter stated in yesterday's Q&A, the offensive line was supposed to be a strength but acted like a sieve against Illinois State. This is before seeing Mr. Short sitting across the line from them. Javonti Grene has not been able to get going on the ground with only 88 yards and no scores after going for 667 yards and six scores on the ground with a receiving TD in 2011.
With so few passing yards the receivers have not done much of note. Garrett Hoskins will be another solid test of our tight end coverage skills. The 6'2" 253 pound tight end is a red zone target with five catches (a team high) for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Greene has caught four passes for 58 yards out of the backfield. Mitchell Dawkins and Donald Scott have the other two TD receptions.
The defensive line should be in the backfield at will this week if Illinois State had little trouble last week. That means the linebackers can work on pass coverage and Josh Johnson can continue to lock down the corners with Ricardo Allen. With only 26 completions in two games the passing game should not be a threat.
Eastern Michigan Defense Vs. The Purdue Offense:
The Eagles are giving up an average of 34 points per game. They cannot stop the run, as they are at 272.5 yards per game given up on the ground thus far. This tells me everyone needs to get carries. Akeem Shavers, Akeem Hunt, Brandon Cottom, Raheem Mostert, and Rob Henry can and should have plenty of room to move the football. Seven times teams have found the end zone on the ground.
The pass defense is better, giving up only 211 yards per game and one touchdown, but part of that may stem from teams having no trouble running on them. Why pass when the opposition is giving up five yards per carry? It should be a welcome relief from last week.
Still, it would be nice to see how much more we can work Dolapo Macarthy into the offense. Macarthy is the first big, strong receiver we've had in ages. Colin Wiengrad is the only player with an interception so far, so Caleb TerBush should have some time to throw. Travis Linser can get into the backfield, however with three tackles for loss.
Donald Coleman and Bryan Pali lead the Eagles in tackles with 22 and 23, respectively. Pali is a 6' 209 pound linebacker from Hawaii and Coleman is a 6' 200 pound defensive back. Overall though, there is not much that is very scary about this defense.
Special Teams vs. Special Teams:
Kody Fulkerson is 4 for 5 on extra points this year and is 0 for 1 on field goals with each being blocked once. He does have a career long kick of 48 yards, however. Jay Karutz is a very good punter with a 43.7 yard average on 13 kicks, five of which were down inside the 20. Hopefully we won't have to call much on Cody Webster, but EMU appears to have a player similar to him.
This is an area where I would like to get more of a punt return game. It hasn't been a huge threat in years, but this season, other than one fumble, we have shown some promise.
Mostly Sunny and 75 degrees with no chance of rain. That sounds about perfect to me.
After Purdue looked stout defensively last week and absolutely dismantled Eastern Kentucky the week before we should expect nothing less than a very comfortable win. Their leading tackler is smaller than Brandon Cottom, for crying out loud. We might even see Cottom get the ball and run over someone.
This needs to be a game where Caleb TerBush gets in sync with the offense and builds some confidence for the coming Big Ten season. Rob Henry will undoubtedly be used, but hopefully in a change-of-pace wildcat way that actually makes sense instead of randomly for a series (or quarter). I also want to see us run the ball effectively. There is no reason for us to be under 200 yards rushing.
As usual, the prediction will come tomorrow in the Big Ten wrap.
Head to Harry's early for the afternoon games if:
- Akeem Shavers and/or Akeem Hunt rushes for 100 yards.
- Caleb TerBush throw no interceptions.
- Ricardo Allen gets a pick.
- Raheem Mostert returns the opening kick for a score.
Have nightmares of Marshall's Rakeem Cato running wild if:
- Gillett turns into a mad bomber and rushes for 100 yards and throws for 300.
- The pass defense struggles in the middle of the field again.
- We fail to cover the tight end on 3rd and 16.
- Javonte Green rushes for 100 yards and two scores.
- We see another player clutch his knee.
As for one last note, I will be in West Lafayette tomorrow night covering the WLHS-Tipton game and I am debating on going to the Boiler Bridge walk. If you're in town for this look for the blogger with the video camera.