2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 100 Eastern Michigan Eagles
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Eastern Michigan Eagles
No. 100: Eastern Michigan Eagles
Eastern Michigan Eagles Prespring Status
It sort of flew under the national radar, but Eastern Michigan was one of the best stories of the 2016 season. The perennial doormat won four of its first five games – including a thriller over Wyoming – on the way to a bowl game. Can the program take another step up and turn into an actual player in the MAC title chase? Now that head coach Chris Creighton showed what the program could do, why not? There were holes and inconsistencies throughout the season, but the Eagles were more than just competitive. Taking that next step forward, though, might be more difficult because …
Eastern Michigan Eagles Biggest Issue
The Eagles have to replace four starters on the offensive line. There are other big losses – there’s no replacing Pat O’Connor on the defensive front, and Ike Spearman was a good veteran in the middle of the linebacking corps – but one of the biggest keys to last year’s success was a solid year from a veteran O line. Right guard Jimmy Leatiota is back, but that’s it for a line that gave up just 13 sacks and paved the way for the team’s best rushing year since 2011.
Eastern Michigan Eagles Biggest Positive
The key offensive playmakers return. The line might be a problem to gear back up, but if the blocking is there, the offense should shine with QB Brogan Roback returning along with a healthy Todd Porter. The ground game not only gets back leading rusher Ian Erikson and the top three backs from last year, but Shaq Vann returns from a shoulder injury. Best of all, 296 of the team’s 309 catches – and all 25 scoring grabs – are back.
Really, Why Are The Eastern Michigan Eagles Ranked Here?
Is it all for real? There’s enough returning talent to keep EMU from falling back into the abyss – the top seven tacklers return to go along with all the top guys back on offense. But will the lines hold up? Eastern Michigan doesn’t automatically reload with veteran offensive linemen, and again, losing O’Connor off the defensive line – along with Mike Brown on the nose – is a problem.