Losing streak, defensive woes add to Eastern Michigan football team's frustration
Another Saturday, another loss and another big rushing day by the Eagles opponent and English - Eastern Michigan's first-year coach had had it.
A former defensive coordinator at Michigan and Louisville, English characterized his team's defense as a travesty.
"It's ridiculous," English said after the Eagles (0-4, 0-1 Mid American Conference) dropped a 24-12 homecoming loss to Temple last weekend at Rynearson Stadium. "What we have to do is look at ourselves as a staff and how we are going to get this thing fixed."
And for a parting shot: English promised the Eagles would correct their mistakes this week in Mount Pleasant against rival Central Michigan. (noon, ESPN-Plus)
Eastern Michigan's issues are delegated to the defensive front, which has allowed 276 rushing yards per game. Michigan ran over the Eagles for 380 yards while Army began the season by rushing for 300 yards.
English's fuse hit its limit last week when Temple covered 288 yards on the ground, handing the Eagles their fourth straight loss.Downs, a senior defensive lineman, said Thursday he and his teammates have reached a critical point in their season.
"Anytime you're giving up that many yards on the ground, everyone's going to be frustrated," he said. "So it's just not Coach English."
So have English's words sunk in?
"Of course you're going to take it personally when you're not getting the job done," Downs said. "We just need to play like we're capable of playing and just do our job.
"Everyone just has to get out there and do their job and we have to start being consistent and eliminate the big plays we're giving up."
Downs said he hasn't sensed any change in English's demeanor regardless of this week's rivalry test on the road. Eastern Michigan has won four of its last five games against Central Michigan (4-1, 2-0 MAC), including two straight at Kelly-Shorts Stadium.
The Chippewas are averaging 157 yards on the ground and 213 passing yards behind senior quarterback Dan LeFevour, who should present a challenge to an Eagles pass defense that ranks first in the nation (89.3 yards per game).
Despite Eastern Michigan's recent success against Central Michigan, Downs doesn't put much stock in what's happened in the past. Especially with a defense that requires immediate attention.
"Everything's fixable - it's not like there's something we're not able to do," Downs said. "We just have to get out there and do our jobs and play with fast, hard and with a lot of energy."
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org