Thoughts from Ypsilanti

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

One was able to experience both ends of the spectrum of the college football universe in Michigan on Saturday. You could spend the morning hours in the Ann Arbor area, looking in amazement at the sight of over 113,000 people gathering at the huge, renovated Michigan Stadium.

Parking lots full as far as the eye could see, filled with excited tailgaters waiting for their season to begin, everyone filled with the hope that Michigan would take the first step back to their usual national ranking.

Or you could spend the late afternoon or evening hours just down the road in Ypsilanti, watching a team coming off a winless season playing a team not too far removed from one, a team still in the throes of over a decade of bad football. And you could watch the game with a crowd that was 10% the size of the Ann Arbor crowd.

It was hard to believe that these two diverse worlds were so close together and sobering too.

Yet, the more exciting game was played at night. Go figure. Some thoughts on the game:

At kickoff, it was easy to see that the Eastern sideline was much more animated than the Army sideline. This continued throughout the game. And you just have to wonder: Why do the BK's come out so flat in so many games that they are favored or a slight dog? With as little success that Army has had the last decade, you would think that they would be like rabid dogs, eager to suck up the wins easily in their grasps. Instead, just about all their wins have been nail biters, with Saturday being no exception.

Offensively, there's reason for hope. After a first half consisting of last year's looks with only one pitch the entire half, things changed in the second. The offense opened up, and backs were able to hit the corner and get the ball downfield. Malcolm Brown and Brian Cobbs show great promise. Patrick Mealy looks more explosive. Their ability to hit the corner opened up things in the middle for Jared Hassin. And Trent Steelman led an offense that showed great resolve down the stretch. So much for the good news.

Defensively, Army's off to a real bad start. There were some eye opening things. The defense has never looked less physical. They were slow in pursuit and sure tackling was rare. Eastern was able to stick it down the Cadets collective throats at will during their scoring drives. Alex Gillett and Duane Priest were made to look like All-American candidates. Without EMU's turnovers, there would have been no chance for a late Army comeback.

And as a continuation of a big problem from last year, special team play put the Cadets in a big hole all night. One can hope for improvement as time goes on, but if it doesn't, it will cost the team a couple wins down the line.

Army fans left last year's game pumped up with the hope that good times were just around the corner. This year, it was with a big sigh of relief, with much trepidation over what the future holds for this team. Hawaii may very well wear out the scoreboard this week without a much better showing.

A couple of sidebars:

You have to feel bad for the EMU fans and team. Both showed a lot of passion in their belief that the losing was coming to an end. The team looks much better than last year, and hopefully it will pay off for them soon.

Also, Saturday was the fourth time I can remember that a road game had to be delayed due to weather or light failure in the last few years. Rynearson Stadium isn't exactly bright when the lights are working. And having to watch a game without benefit of a clock is pure torture, especially at the end of the first half when nobody knew how much time remained on EMU's last possession.

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