Preview 2017: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 2017: Eastern Michigan Eagles


Preview 2017: Eastern Michigan Eagles


Preview 2017: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Previewing and looking ahead at the Eastern Michigan season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

2017 Eastern Michigan Preview: Can the Eagles Keep It Going?
– 2017 Eastern Michigan Schedule Analysis
– Eastern Michigan Previews: 2016 | 2015

Biggest Key To The Eastern Michigan Offense

The O line has to come together in a hurry. This whole blocking thing is sort of new to the Eastern Michigan offense. In 2015, it allowed a whopping 85 tackles for loss and 23 sacks, while paving the way for just 1,984 rushing yards. 2014 was even more of a problem for the ground game, while giving up 82 tackles for loss and 35 sacks. Last year? EMU gave up a mere 13 sacks and 43 tackles for loss. If the line regresses after losing three good starters, the team might, too.

What You Need To Know About The Eastern Michigan Defense

Considering EMU had the second-worst run D in college football in 2015, and allowed close to 520 yards per game overall, 2016 was phenomenal.

The Eagles weren’t a rock against the pass, and were okay against the run, but overall, it held up just well enough to survive in key spots and big moments. Seven of the last ten games were decided by a touchdown or less, and the D did its job in most of them.

Three key starters are gone, but eight are back including the entire secondary and the top seven tacklers. There’s no replacing Pat O’Connor on the line, but Jeremiah Harris is a playmaker in all phases and the linebacking corps should be a major plus around Ike Spearman and Kyle Rachwal.

Biggest Key To The Eastern Michigan Defense

The pass rush has to improve. The Eagles had a solid defensive front, and it was able to do just enough to get by against the mediocre teams – especially compared to past seasons – but the pass rush was way too non-existent. Of the 21 sacks, four came in the opener against Mississippi Valley State and 11 game in the first five games. When EMU got double-digit sacks, it was 6-0 and was 1-6 when registering fewer.

Eastern Michigan Will Be Far Better If …

The secondary can come up with more big stops. As a whole, the defense struggled to get off the field on third downs – allowing teams to convert 42% of their chances – with the pass defense getting lit up too often. The pass rush was just mediocre, and it showed in the secondary giving up 245 passing yards or more seven times. EMU was 1-4 when allowing three touchdowns or more.

Best Eastern Michigan Offensive Player

QB Brogan Roback, Sr. – The 6-3, 208-pound veteran took over the offense after the third game and made it roll, throwing for almost 2,700 yards with 18 scores and seven picks, and running for 223 yards and two scores. He’s got a live arm and he’s mobile, but he needs to be more accurate. While he sputtered and struggled against Northern Illinois, he threw for 300 yards or more in six of the last seven games.

2. WR Sergio Bailey, Sr.
3. PK Paul Fricano, Soph.
4. RB Ian Eriksen, Jr.
5. OG Jimmy Leatiota, Jr.

Best Eastern Michigan Defensive Player

S Jason Beck, Sr. – The 6-1, 215-pound thumper led the team with 104 tackles with seven tackles for loss and three broken up passes, after coming up with 166 stops in his first two seasons. Always around the ball, he came up with a big run of three games in the midseason making 33 stops, but he was steady throughout – he’s like an extra linebacker.

2. DE Jeremiah Harris, Jr.
3. LB Kyle Rachwal, Jr.
4. S Vince Calhoun, Soph.
5. P Austin Barnes, Sr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

OG Jimmy Leatiota, Jr. – The former JUCO transfer stepped in and started at right guard throughout last season, and now he’s one of the veterans of a line that needs work. As long as he’s a rock for the running game, and if he can be the one that everything else works around on the interior, the rest of the front five might not be so bad.

The Eastern Michigan Season Will Be A Success If …

There’s another bowl trip. There are too many holes, and the West is too good to demand a division or conference title, but considering the program has never been to back-to-back bowls, getting another winning season would be terrific.

Key Game To The Eastern Michigan Season

Sept. 23 vs. Ohio. It’s an interdivisional game, and there are bigger battles against the West coming down the line, but it’s the MAC opener and a rare home game early on. It’s the lone date at Rynearson from September 9th to October 21st – there are four road games in five dates. With at Toledo, Western Michigan, and at Northern Illinois up next in conference play, the Eagles have to beat the Bobcats.

2016 Eastern Michigan Fun Stats

– Fumbles: Opponents 29 (lost 13) – Eastern Michigan 14 (lost 6)
– Punt Return Average: Opponents 7.2 yards – Eastern Michigan 3 yards
– Opponents 1st Half Scoring: 152 – Opponents 4th Quarter Scoring: 142

2017 Eastern Michigan Preview: Can the Eagles Keep It Going?
– 2017 Eastern Michigan Schedule Analysis
– Eastern Michigan Previews: 2016 | 2015


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