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Better Know: Eastern Michigan

Thursday night the 2012 Ball State Cardinal football season kicks off at 7pm with a white out in Scheumann Stadium. In many cases, hype and build up are just that. The importance of a game is often times magnified and boosted in an effort to build momentum and attention for a game or opponent that wouldn’t naturally cause the hearts and minds of fans to be set afire. I cannot stress enough that when we talk about the importance of this Thursday’s game that the amount of hyperbole and overselling is exactly zero. Thursday night is more than a simple home opener versus a nameless tomato can of an opponent to boost the ledger to 1-0. Thursday night’s game at its most basic principle is the first tangible evidence of how Pete Lembo and the coaching staff have been able to drill the intricacies of their system into these players. It’s also the MAC opener, and in a conference where the defining characteristic is parity, and your opponent is one that many preseason publications have you tied with for conference standings, a victory is of the utmost importance.

Unless you’re in the hunt for the national championship, it’s rare that the season opener becomes a trajectory setter for your season. Usually, it’s either a payday game to make your athletic budget or one of those aforementioned gimme games. This is different. A win means BSU is in a great spot in the MAC to surprise some people and prove the so-called “experts” calling for a cellar finish in the MAC West wrong. A loss, followed by a trip to Clemson, could set a relatively negative tone right off the bat. It could squelch fan optimism and buy in and make further progress against student apathy or poor attendance an uphill climb. Speaking of fans, it’s put up time for them as well. Home opener, predicted good weather, a white out, and a ton of marketing should result in a big crowd. A boisterous crowd. A crowd that hopefully sees a conference win and is in for the long haul. It’s time. It’s not the usual hype machine. It’s big. It’s here. It’s time. Time to better know Eastern Michigan…

Team: Eastern Michigan
Record: 0-0
Ranking: Unranked
Head Coach: Ron English
Series: 30-21-2, Ball State leads
Last Meeting: Ball State won 33-31 in Ypsilanti

Eastern Michigan Coach Ron English
… enters his 4th season as the head coach at EMU, with a 8-28 overall record and a 6-18 MAC record.
… has improved every year at EMU. After posting an 0-12 premier season in 2009, he followed that with 2 wins in 2010 and 6 wins in 2011.
… is no stranger to close games. A total of 13 of EMU’s 36 games under English have been decided by seven points-or-less. The Eagles are 5-8 in those contests.

Eastern Michigan-BSU Randomness…
… the EMU-BSU contest will be one of just four games around the nation to feature  conference foes squaring off during the season’s opening week. Other league pairings include South Carolina/Vanderbilt, Miami (Fla.)/Boston College and Georgia Tech/Virginia Tech
… EMU is an experienced team. Three current EMU players have started 25 or more games during their careers. The players, with total number of games started in parenthesis, are: Andrew Sorgatz (35), Marcell Rose (27) and Alex Gillett (27).
… Eastern Michigan is one of just 26 Football Bowl Subdivision schools to feature a player from Canada on its roster. Seniors Kalonji Kashama, Andy Mulumba, Corey Watman should be heavy contributors, while Oliver Kathalay will seek more playing time. The other FBS schools to have multiple Canadians on its roster include: Virginia (4), Buffalo (3), UConn (3), Iowa (3), Rice (3), Boston College (2), Boise State (2), Northern Illinois (2), UNLV (2) and Wyoming (2).

Rules Changes for 2012…
… The Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) approved moving the kickoff and touchback lines beginning with the 2012 season. This fall, teams will kick off at the 35-yard line instead of the 30. Also, players on the kicking team cannot line up for the play behind the 30-yard line, which is intended to limit the running start kicking teams used to have during the play.
… Also, touchbacks on free kicks will be moved to the 25-yard line instead of the 20 to encourage more touchbacks. Touchbacks on other plays (for example, punts that go into the end zone, or fumbles that go out of the end zone) will remain at the 20-yard line.
… Another new rule that goes into effect this season is if a player loses his helmet (other than as the result of a foul by the opponent, such as a facemask), it will be treated like an injury. The player must leave the game and is not allowed to participate for the next play.

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