BSD Film Room: Eastern Michigan

Leon Halip

Let's take a look at Eastern Michigan, Penn State's next opponent.

The 2011 MAC Coach of the Year, Ron English, led his Eastern Michigan Eagles onto the field against the Big Ten foe. The Eagles played conservatively, selling out to stop the run, and daring the new quarterback to beat them. The Big Ten team missed an easy field goal, made a more difficult one, and then it happened - the moment that Ron English had been waiting so patiently for, all this time. The home team coughed up the ball deep in its own territory. English went play action from the opponent 25, and the Eastern Michigan Eagles, behind QB Tyler Benz, took a 7-3 lead into halftime, before a stunned Big Ten crowd.

That actually happened. It was last year, at Michigan State, and the new QB was Andrew Maxwell, who could not complete a pass to save his life. But the Iggles, who finished 2-10 on the season, had a halftime lead over Sparty, at Sparty Stadium. And though they eventually lost, 23-7, for 30 minutes Ron English's squad nearly gave Mark Dantonio another coronary.

Now, it's true that Eastern Michigan just pulled out a close one against FCS Howard University Bison. It's also true that Eastern Michigan simply isn't very good at all. But that didn't stop BSD Film Room from watching not one, but TWO, first halves of 2012 Eastern Michigan game action, to play chart their offense and defense. That's correct - not only does BSD Film Room basically do these posts for "fun", but BSD Film Room voluntarily watches 30 minutes of EMU vs Sparty, and another 30 minutes of EMU vs Purdue. It's a sickness, really.

EMU Offense

It's entirely appropriate that the undefeated 1973 Penn State squad returns home to watch the EMU offense, because the offense is straight outta 1973. Well, almost.

Personnel Snaps Run Pass
10 14 0 14
11 32 20 12
12 18 12 6
Totals 64 32 32

I know what you're thinking: hey, that's a 50/50 split between run and pass. How about that? Cappy wasn't winning the Heisman by pass blocking, and Joe surely wasn't throwing the ball 50% of the time. True enough. But would it make you feel better to know that all of the "10" - 1 RB, 0 TE - personnel plays, which were 100% pass, happened in the 2 minutes before halftime? Take away the 2 minute passes, and Eastern Michigan ran the ball 32 out of 50 plays - 64% of the time. An additional 5 passes were really just roll out excuses for a QB scramble, which takes the total to 37 out of 50 - 74%. Pretty sweet, right?

And that 74% run tendancy requires a wealth of different run plays, right? Not at all, friends. Not. At. All.

Run Play Count
Counter 3
Gut 5
Off Tackle 10
Sweep 14

However, with 24 (plus 5 QB scrambles) targeting the edge of the defense, Penn State will get plenty of practice reps to address the contain issues that popped up on occasion against Syracuse last week.

EMU Defense

On defense, the Iggles ran a couple of different fronts. They occasionally blitzed. They also dropped a safety to give them eight defenders in the tackle box every now and then (mostly against Sparty). But unlike Syracuse last week, they didn't do anything exotic or weird or "multiply aggressive". In fact, they were more likely to rush just 3, than they were to rush 5 or 6.

Front Count Blitz 8-Man Box Rush 3
34 4 4* 0 0
335 15 1* 2 12
43Over 6 0 5 0
43Stack 50 0 7 2
43Under 1 0 0 0
Goalline 1 0 0 0
Totals 77 5 14 14

*They sent 5 from the 34 front. Five is the number thou shalt count. No more, no less. And this one time, at band camp, they sent 6 from the 3-3-5. You should have seen what Maxwell did on that play.

Not coincidentally, EMU defense was much better at defending the outside runs than they were at defending the up-the-gut runs. This is because, in my opinion, the offense that you run - and practice - heavily influences your defensive strengths. If you're an air raid offense, your defense tends to suck at defending the run, because you're going against the pass 20 hours every week. Rich Rod scores all day long on offense? His defense allows scores all day long, too. In EMU's case, they run a ton, but it's mostly outside rushing. They see various forms of sweeps 10,000 time per week, during practice. The Lombardi power sweep, the jet sweep, the toss sweep, the wr crack back sweep....ALL THE SWEEPs.

BOB's Game Plan

So what would you want to accomplish this week, if you're BOB? Other than "win", I mean.

1. Run the ball more successfully. BOB can dictate when EMU drops the 8th man into the box, or not. On tape, if Purdue or Sparty went heavy - 22 or 23 personnel - down came the EMU safety. If Purdue or Sparty went 3x1 or 2x2, spreading the field, EMU spread out with them, sometimes leaving just 5 or 6 in the box (as opposed to you know who, from last week). That's despite the fact that Andrew Maxwell and Caleb TerBush were slinging the rock for Sparty and Purdue. Incredible. So spread 'em out, and gash them straight up the middle. At least to start the game. Plus, we'll get to hear "hey, (ohhh) let's go state" 500 times in a row, which I happen to enjoy, for the tubas.

2. Stay in base defenses. I don't think EMU can score with us, and I'm expecting us to build an early lead. So I'd rather stay in our base 43, knowing full well that EMU is running the ball nearly every play, particularly to the outside - and let's see if we can clean up last week's contain without doing anything fancy. Play it straight, line up, and beat them. It'll be good work for new linebackers SOA and Amos.

3. Special teams - kick and kick return, in particular. Let's get off blocks on kick, and make some blocks on return. These are esoteric coaching points, I grant you. But what else can you say about special teams, besides "stay in your lanes"? Reminds me of my pee wee coach's practice wisdom: "BLOCK SOMEBODY!" / "HIT SOMEBODY!" That's basically what I'm after here, with point #3.

4. "Something for Hackenberg". Let's give Hack a couple of audibles this week. If he sees 8, let him check to a quick pass. If he sees 3-to-a-side, let him check to an inside zone run.

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