Ohio State-Eastern Michigan: Know the Opposition

David ThurmanCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2010

(Rynearson Stadium pictured above, with the usual gameday crowd)

Mascot: Eagles
Stadium: Rynearson Stadium (30,200)
2009 Record: 0-12
2010 Record: 0-3
Head Coach: Ron English (second season, 0-15)
Letterman Returning: 44 (18 lost)
Returning Starters: Offense: Eight; Defense: Seven; Specialists: None
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (Three Wideouts)
Returning Stars: QB Alex Gillett & DE Javon Reese

Notable Alumni

Bob Welch: MLB pitcher (1990 Cy Young Award winner)
Judge Greg Mathis: Television personality
Barry Gordy: Founder of Motown Records
John Harvey Kellogg: Co-founder of Kellogg's Corn Flakes
George Gervin: NBA Hall of Famer
Stan Heath: NCAA basketball coach

Cheerleading Scouting Report

Click here for photo and bio

Eastern Michigan Overview

The Eagles stumble into Columbus with a couple of clipped wings, having lost 15 straight games.  Coach Ron English took over a struggling program, and has not been able to turn things around.  In fact, he has yet to win his first game at Eastern Michigan. 
One would have to go back a long way to find this weak of an opponent on the Buckeye schedule, and that includes FCS rival Youngstown State.  Although neither Marshall nor Ohio put up much of a fight, they were at least bowl teams in 2009.  Eastern hasn't seen the postseason since 1987. 
One wonders what kind of psyche the Eagles bring into this game, and whether or not they have any competitive spirit left in them.  They started the year with two close losses but were then annihilated by Central Michigan a week ago.

On offense it all begins with Alex Gillett, a duel threat quarterback who is having a nice season.  He has hit 57.6 percent of his passes, tossing four touchdowns, and has run for another 172 yards and a score.  He is certainly the brightest light on a mediocre offense.  Interestingly his backup is redshirt freshman and Cleveland native Devontae Payne, who has a great deal of potential and may get the chance to play quite a bit.
Gillett is somewhat limited when it comes to targets.  His leading receiver is actually tight end Ben Thayer, who has 10 catches, 109 yards and a touchdown.  The most dangerous player on the team, though, may be receiver Kinsman Thomas, whose six receptions have netted him 197 yards and two touchdowns.  The other starting wideouts, Tyron Burke and Trey Hunter, are mostly possession receivers and are not likely to gash the Buckeye defense.

The Eagles have one solid runner in senior Dwayne Priest, who has netted 199 yards and three touchdowns.  Outside of him and Gillett, no one has run for more than 24 yards, so they need Priest to stay healthy.

The offensive line isn't too bad, having surrendered only three sacks, and they have paved the way for the team to average a respectable 332 yards per game.  Senior center Eric Davis is the best of the bunch and gives the Eagles an anchor in the middle of the line.  Both of the guards are sophomores and they may be exploited by the OSU defensive tackles who are exceptional.

While the offense isn't great it is head and shoulders above the EMU defense, which is giving up 414 yards and 37 points a game against fairly weak competition. The D-line brought back three starters from '09 and was supposed to be greatly improved, after allowing 6.3 YPC a season ago.  The good news is they are doing a little better, surrendering 5.5 a carry thus far in 2010, but they are still being gouged for 253 yards per game.  Buckeye ball carriers are licking their chops.  The lone bright spot on the line has been junior DE Javon Reese who has registered 3.5 sacks thus far.

The linebacking corps is led by OLB Neal Howey (34 tackles) and Tim Fort (29 tackles).  Of course when you are on the field a lot giving up huge hunks of yardage, you tend to have lots of opportunities to tackle opposing tailbacks.

The secondary features three seniors and a junior, but the experience hasn't helped a great deal.  True, opponents have not thrown for tons of yards (161 per game) because they have found so much success running.  But the EMU defensive backs are allowing rival quarterbacks to complete 61 percent of their passes.  Free safety Latarrius Thomas, a transfer from Louisville who has nice size, and cornerback Marcell Rose lead the secondary with 18 tackles each.  Not one of the starting D-backs has picked off a pass thus far, and since both starting corners are 5'9" one would think that Ohio State receivers should have a field day.

On the plus-side, punter Jay Karutz is averaging over 44 yards per boot, and kicker Sean Graham has been solid.  Eastern Michigan has had little success in the return game which ought to be good news for the Buckeye coverage teams, which have struggled mightily.

Game Outlook

The only suspense this week is whether or not the Eagle will try and attack Brutus.  Other than that, it is a matter of how many points Ohio State will score, and how many players get into the game.  Eastern is really that bad. There is no reason to take much space breaking it all down, because these two teams are so far apart one can only hope that nobody gets injured.

Ohio State will look to establish the run game, which has been mediocre the past two weeks, and should find plenty of room for their bevy of backs to get loose.  Brandon Saine was injured on Tuesday but is lobbying for playing time, because it won't get this easy again in 2010.  Although Pryor will surely work to hone his passing, I doubt he runs much at all, and will probably play only one half. The Buckeyes third team offense is better than what the Eagle defense sees in practice each week when they go up against their starting unit.  Only turnovers can keep OSU from moving the ball and scoring points.

The Eagle offense isn't the worst in the nation, but it isn't strong either.  Unless the Silver Bullets come out totally uninspired it is hard to see EMU having much success getting down the field and into the end zone.  Gilllett has some skill but he has not gone up against the kind of speed the Buckeyes will bring and they should make his life miserable on Saturday.

Father vs. Son Prediction Battle

Dave: OSU 52-3
Drew: OSU 42-3


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