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Posted on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Ron English says 2-0 Eastern Michigan is learning how to win, remains on the right track

By Nick Baumgardner

Ron English isn’t sure how confident his football team is just yet.

What he does know, though, is that Eastern Michigan is 2-0 for the first time since 1989. And that, by itself, is two large steps in the right direction.

“I’ve had good friends of mine that have taken over programs like this and a part of it is getting kids accustomed to winning,” English said Monday. “You can talk about winning all you want, but they have to go out and do it.”


Ron English on his rebuilding project at Eastern Michigan: "I feel like we have a foundation laid. We're able to compete in terms of recruiting, we have facilities that allow us to be competitive in this league. ... I feel like we are on the road that we need to be on."

File photo

The Eagles, who will travel six miles west to visit unbeaten Michigan on Saturday, stayed perfect on the young season last weekend with a 14-7 home win over Alabama State.

It wasn’t pretty, as EMU had a pair of turnovers and committed 12 penalties for 135 yards, but it was a victory nonetheless

And though it was EMU’s second straight win over an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision opponent (the Eagles smacked Howard 41-9 on Sept. 4), it came against a team that lost by five points in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game a season ago.

“Last week’s game was critical for us,” said English, whose career win total at EMU has doubled already this season. “(Alabama State) understands winning. … They played four quarters, they didn’t make nearly the mistakes we made, they had three penalties and turned the ball over once to our two times.

“I feel like we have a foundation laid. We’re able to compete in terms of recruiting, we have facilities that allow us to be competitive in this league. ... I feel like we are on the road that we need to be on.”

The season is just two weeks old, but EMU has a few things to hang its hat on.

The Eagles have rushed for an average of 331 yards per game over their first two contests, the fifth-best average in the country. English’s defense has also had statistical success. The Eagles are eighth in the country in points allowed (8.0 points per game) and ninth overall in total defense (212 yards allowed per game).

Senior linebacker Marcus English also was named the Mid-American Conference's Defensive Player of the Week following the win over Alabama State.

EMU’s two-headed running back duo of Dominique Sherrer and Javonti Greene have combined to rush for 497 yards over the first two weeks. Sherrer did leave last weekend’s game with an apparent knee injury, but English said Monday that the team was “in good shape” health-wise this week, and Sherrer was listed as the No. 1 running back on the team’s depth chart.

Saturday’s test will be an entirely different obstacle for EMU, though.

Michigan is a long way from Howard and Alabama State, and English -- who spent five seasons on the Wolverines coaching staff from 2003-05 -- is fully aware of that.

But for right now, the Eagles are 2-0.

English says the goal for his team’s date inside the Big House this Saturday (noon, BTN) is simple: To leave the place with a record of 3-0.

“To win, everybody wants to win,” English said when asked what a successful day would be this weekend. “But that’s a tall task for anybody who goes in that stadium.

“(Michigan coach Brady Hoke) has taught that team what all Michigan teams have been taught -- to never quit in that stadium. That’s what happened last week (against Notre Dame). They never quit.”

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


Macabre Sunset

Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

EMU is one of only four schools in the FBS that plays two FCS schools this season. I understand why English wants to instill some confidence in his kids. But it's irrational exuberance of the highest order to say that Saturday's game is anything other than Michigan's one opportunity to play some of its freshmen in a game that will be safely in hand by the third quarter. And I don't even think Michigan should be ranked yet.


Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

If EMU continies to self-distruct, as it did last week, it will be a long game. If they play mistake free football there is no reason they cannot cover the spread; which would be a victory. but I have to say, after three years, why is the coach still the story? Can't we learn about some players? The first season, yes, coach was the story. Second, maybe ... but it's time did some actual sports reporting about EMU and its players and this week should be the week it happens... anything else is lazy


Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 5:38 p.m. doesn't do any reporting much less sports reporting. It's nothing but fluff that someone could get out of a high school paper. I get more info from the comments (when they are not deleted).


Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

EMU presents a good running attack along with a mobile QB. Thus far, our Wolverines have not done too well in the first two games in stopping the run. This is also the first mobile QB we will face this season. Perhaps that will actually be an advantage because our defense practices daily with Denard and Devin. If the Michigan defense totally shuts down the EMU offense, for 60 minutes, then I will say they are turning the corner. If the Eagles score two or three TDs and add a FG, then we may see a defense destined to be average at best for the rest of the season. This game does suggest some turning point for the Michigan defensive unit. We still need to force EMU into a turnover or two. Michigan also needs to play a solid game offensively by finally winning the TOP margin. Coach Hoke is too smart to let his entire team think that this will be a cakewalk and they will play with a sense of urgency. Ron English is a good coach and his team is off to a very good start. Michigan needs to have that elusive balanced attack and a more consistent defense for this game to make me feeling comfortable with them.


Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

wont be a walk in the park for UM thats for sure... Biggest bone head move for UM was getting rid of him as DC... Best DC in the NCAA...


Tue, Sep 13, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

It was just the first in a very long, painful, unending series of boneheaded moves made by our "former coach who shall not be named".