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Posted on Sun, Apr 15, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

Quarterback Alex Gillett shines at Eastern Michigan spring game

By Matt Durr


Quarterback Alex Gillett, right, is pursued by defensive lineman Andy Mulumba on his way to a rushing touchdown in the Eastern Michigan spring game. Gillett also completed 13 of 16 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.

Chris Asadian |

When spring practice opened up for the Eastern Michigan football team last month, head coach Ron English made a point to open up the competition for the starting quarterback job.

Questions arose about whether three-year starter Alex Gillett would be unseated by Tyler Benz. With his performance in Sunday’s spring game, Gillett answered his doubters.

Gillett was 13-of-16 for 207 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while adding a rushing touchdown in the scrimmage held at Rynearson Stadium.

“You need to stay motivated, it’s a competition every year, but it definitely lights a fire under you," Gillett said. "You never want to give up your job obviously. It was a good competition and we’ll see what happens.

“It was a practice, but it was a game for us. So if I only throw three incompletions now, hopefully I only throw three in a game.”

After the game, English said he was happy with the way Gillett played during spring practices.

“Alex has really matured as a senior. He’s had a terrific spring," English said. "He just has to carry it over to fall.”


Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English shares a laugh with his team after its spring game Sunday at Rynearson Stadium.

Chris Asadian |

Benz, on the other hand, struggled at times and completed only three of his 10 pass attempts.

Related: Spring game photo gallery

Both quarterbacks were given plenty of chances to throw that ball during the scrimmage, a sign that the offense hopes to be more balanced than it was last year, when the running game carried the offensive load.

“This spring we really put an emphasis on throwing the ball and I really had to focus on that,” said Gillett. “We want to be a more balanced attack. Last year we ran the ball quite a bit. If we can be more fifty-fifty, that just helps us.”

Gillett attributed his success to having more time to work with the receivers during the spring to develop chemistry on the field. That's something he hopes to continue to improve upon over the summer, when players meet for their own workouts. Those efforts didn’t go unnoticed by English.

“I think not only has Alex has done a nice job, but I think the receivers have , I think the coaches have," English said. "I think those guys have gotten a lot better.”

Besides the passing game, English was pleased with the running attack, specifically the performance of the offensive line.

“I love the offensive line. I think we have depth there and I think we’re going to be pretty good up front,” he said.

The line helped the Eagles rushing game score five touchdowns on the ground, including a pair from both Ryan Brumfield and Bronson Hill.

The biggest reaction of the day, however, belonged to sophomore Tyler Allen. He electrified the crowd with a kickoff return for a touchdown that brought the Eagle faithful to their feet.

After receiving the kick, Allen made a move to the left, found a hole and exploded down the sideline past the coverage team.

“What I like about him is, he fields that ball well and then he’s got great speed. He is a downhill, north and south runner. He’s not going to run around a lot, he’s going to hit it and that’s what you need from a kick returner,” said English, adding that Allen is the scheduled kick returner for next fall.

While he was happy with his offense, English was not thrilled with the effort of his defense.

“The worst thing that I saw today was our eyes on defense. The standup players were horrible,” he said. “The defensive front is coming along, the linebackers are decent, the safety position ... we have a long way to go.”

With the next set of practices not schedule until August, English and his staff have plenty of time to evaluate the spring practices while preparing for the incoming crop of freshmen. With that in mind, English feels his team is ready to compete for a Mid-American Conference West Championship.

“We’re further along in our development overall,” he said. “I think we have a chance. I think we have to get a lot better like everybody I think at this time of the year feels. I believe that if we play well, we’ll have a chance.”

Matt Durr covers sports for Contact him at



Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Coach English is doing a great job. I love everything I'm seeing out of the program under his leadership. [@lumberg48108] As for Alex Gillet, he certainly was a question mark in regards to his ability to own the QB spot. I don't think anyone is questioning his skills and athleticism. Gillet could and hopefully will be a force in the MAC. He can run and has shown that he could throw. It's there. From my perspective, his decision making needed to mature greatly. There were games last year that displayed that weakness. English has even acknowledged that as an issue and I'm sure him and the QB coach will get Gillet there by August. GO EMU!


Tue, Apr 17, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Your comments about his performance last year were somewhat accurate...I do not claim him to be an all-american BUT He was NOT getting displaced this year and everyone knew that. It was a mental game he (coach) played with Gillett and my take was, it simply robbed the fan base of a chance to get behind a player we have followed for 3 years.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Coach English is doing it right! With the solid running game that he's installed, it'll make for a smooth transition to a 60/40 run/pass game that we'll see this year. I'm also confident that the DBs will be vastly improved by the start of the 2012 season. EMU!


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 12:56 p.m. Good article from DetNews about EMU's rebirth.


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Style question this is common in sports but can an English major help "The biggest reaction of the day, however, belonged to sophomore Tyler Allen. He electrified the crowd with a kickoff return for a touchdown that brought the Eagle faithful to their feet." Should it read the above or "to its feet" if he wrote "crowd" it would read "its feet" since the crowd is one thing, not many ...


Mon, Apr 16, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

This was a silly discussion from the start ... "Questions arose about whether three-year starter Alex Gillett would be unseated by Tyler Benz" by coach English. EVERYONE knew he was the starter before the coach decided to "shake things up" and now we all know exactly what we knew weeks ago - Gillett is the starter and is capable of being an all-conference QB. So coach, please embrace Gillett and let the fan base get excited that we have a returning 3-year starter. Let's get some players recognized and celebrate them. All you did coach, with this silly nonsense, was keep the fan base from embracing Gillett but now that this charade is over, let everyone embrace him and the returning players.