Football Q&A with Eastern Michigan sideline reporter Brian Nemerovski
Each week, AnnArbor.com chats with a beat writer/radio personality from the team Michigan is facing to get a feel for what's going on in Kalamazoo, South Bend or Champaign.
This week, Eastern Michigan sideline reporter Brian Nemerovski took a few minutes to chat. Listen to Nemerovski on WEMU, 89.1 for football.
Michael Rothstein: What's it going to take for Eastern to win this game? Can they win this game? Brian Nemerovski: "I think they can win this game. The likelihood is not great in terms of talent level, but if there's a blueprint, you go to last weekend's game at Northwestern where Eastern forced a couple turnovers, was really efficient on offense in the second half and didn't give up many big plays. They were in that game until the final play and if things fall that way again, there's no reason the closeness of the game wouldn't be that similar."
MR: From watching that game, if you took the turnovers out of it, Eastern Michigan seemed to struggle with Northwestern's spread. Did you sense that? BN: "Well, certainly against both teams, Eastern has a disadvantage in terms of speed and size when you put Eastern's defense on the field. But I think Eastern's defense held up pretty well. They gave up two offensive touchdowns to Northwestern very early in the game. They got some pressure on the quarterback, the interception by (Ryan) Downard was really a forced turnover with good pressure on the quarterback. So, the spread will always give advantage to a team that has speed, especially on the outside. But I think the defense held up pretty well against Northwestern."
MR: When you look at this program, how much has Ron (English) changed it in the seven, eight months he's been there? BN: "This is my seventh year covering Eastern football and third coaching staff. The biggest change, I think, is clearly the talent level of player who will come to Eastern to play for Ron. I don't know how many years that capital, if you will, will continue to pay off for him but certainly this year's recruiting class, for a first-year coach, was exceptional through the number of commitments and the type of commitments he's gotten for next year, the recruiting really is at a different level. On the field, as far as the coaching mentality, Ron's obviously an intense guy, a guy who really preaches doing things the right way in the process of turning things around. But the results there will be won't be seen as quite as quickly as the difference in talent we're already seeing in five or six cases this year."
MR: I know he was there before, but is the (Dwayne) Priest kid the biggest game breaker on your team, the one guy Michigan's defense needs to have their eye on? BN: "I think he's been Eastern's best offensive player through the first two weeks of the season and a lot of folks in the press box were saying he was the best player on the field and that was justified by the numbers. He's a quick guy, but he doesn't have a lot of breakaway speed. I don't think you'll see him break off any 70- or 80-yard runs, but he can get to the second level of the defense. He's pretty good at making the first guy miss and he can pile up yardage the way he did last week."
MR: And finally, we talked about what it would take for Eastern to win. What would be the nightmare scenario in this case? What, if it goes wrong, could make for a long day? BN: "Any time a MAC school goes into an environment like this, the worst-case scenario is always a slow start and turnovers. You get into a situation where you're constantly giving a team like Michigan a short field, they are going to run it into the 30s, 40s, 50s without very much effort. As long as Eastern not commit turnovers themselves and put a couple drives together in the first quarter and get a little more confident, they'll have a chance to keep the game competitive."