Eastern Michigan Preview 2006 - Offense

Posted Aug 7, 2006

Eastern Michigan Eagles Preview 2006 - EMU Offense

What you need to know ... Eastern Michigan's wide open offense needs to be more consistent and far more explosive. It has speed and quickness at the skill positions working behind a big, veteran line with four starters returning, but there are big question marks at quarterback and running back. Tyler Jones leads a group of six quarterback prospects who can all run, while there's a logjam of small, quick running backs looking to complement the passing attack. Eric Deslauriers is one of the MAC's best all-around receivers and should be the star of a good corps.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tyler Jones
41-65, 245 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Tyler Jones
67carries, 267 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Eric Deslauriers
75 catches, 874 yds, 8 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Eric Deslauriers
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Tyler Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Dwayne Harrison
Best pro prospect: Deslauriers
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Deslauriers, 2) TE Ken Bohnet, 3) OG Khalid Walton
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Consistency, running back experience

The situation isn't all that bad considering Matt Bohnet needs to be replaced. Tyler Jones is an experienced, mobile quarterback with good running skills and an accurate arm. He'll have competition with five other players pushing for time. To run the EMU offense, a quarterback has to be mobile as well as a good runner, and everyone on the roster can move. Andy Schmitt is an interesting option with the size to go along with the running ability.
The key to the unit: Efficiency. Tyler Jones has to be as accurate as he was in his limited time last year and become a steady decision maker.
Quarterback Rating: 5

Projected Starter
- Tyler Jones, Soph. - 41-65, 245 yds, 63%, 2 TD, 1 INT, 67 carries, 267 yds, 1 TD
Jones saw plenty of action last season when Matt Bohnet was hurt highlighted by a 19-of-26 passing day, 107-yard rushing day in the 24-23 loss to Miami University. He's not a big quarterback, but he's very mobile with an accurate arm. He has had enough time in the system to hit the ground running in Bohnet's place.

Top Backups
- Andy Schmitt, RFr.
Schmitt is a big passer and a great runner for his size. At 6-4 and 221 pounds, he's a much bigger option than Tyler Jones with many of the same rushing skills.

- Dontayo Gage, RFr.
The best runner of the quarterback options, the 5-9 redshirt freshman adds more off of a speed element than Tyler Jones or Andy Schmitt. He's not quite the passer the other two prospects are.

Running Backs
Eastern Michigan is never going to scare anyone with its running game, but it needs a little bit of pop to keep the heat off the passing game. The Eagle backs are all small, quick, darting runners who can make plays happen in the open field and can catch. Dwayne Harrison will get the first look, but it'll be tailback by committee with several similar backs also able to produce. As many as five backs will rotate in the mix throughout the season.
The key to the unit: Figure out which of the clones stands out the most and run with him. There will be a good rotation, but one has to be the main man to revolve the ground game around.
Running Back Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- Dwayne Harrison, Soph. - 58 carries, 236 yds, 4.1 ypc, 1 TD, 3 catches, 3 yards
Harrison had a decent first season as a true freshman showing off his quickness and potential getting plenty of work in the middle of the season before seeing his workload drop down to next to nothing over the final four games. He has the hands to be a solid receiver along with the cutting ability to break off big plays.

Top Backups
- Tim Conner, Soph. - 45 carries, 137 yds, 3 ypc, 2 TD, 14 catches, 91 yds
Conner saw plenty of work in the middle of the season getting ten carries against Toledo along with three catches. He's extremely fast with the straight-line speed to be a top kickoff returner.
- Olufemi Ogundari, RFr.
The quickest back in the mix, the 5-7 back also packs a little bit of power at 194 pounds. He was a high school quarterback who was used mostly as a runner.
- Corey Everson, RFr.
Everson came to Eastern Michigan as a running back and switched over to linebacker. He's a back again as the biggest runner in the mix with the physical ability to be used as a fullback if needed.
- Pierre Walker, Jr. - 3 carries, 7 yds
Walker was all set to carry the load at the start of last year before getting hurt in the first game. He was granted a medical hardship due to the foot problem and gets another year of eligibility. If 100%, he's the type of quick, do-it-all back who could start right away.

This should be one of the team's strengths mainly because of Eric Deslauriers. One of the MAC's top receivers, Deslauriers has to be more consistent and has to keep cranking out the occasional double-digit catch day. Travis Lewis and Trumaine Riley are nice speed receivers with the talent to thrive when teams are paying attention to Deslauriers. Ken Bohnet should be a weapon at tight end now that he's back healthy from a broken hand that limited him last year. There are plenty of passes to go around in the EMU offense, so everyone will get some work.
The key to the unit: The corps has to get the ball deep a little more after only averaging 9.4 yards per catch. There's speed and talent all over the place, and now they need to be put in situations where they can make plays.
Receiver Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Eric Deslauriers, Sr. - 75 catches, 874 yds, 11.7 ypc, 8 TD
One of the nation's best unknown receivers, the 6-5 senior has 174 career catches and 22 touchdowns with the size to outmuscle most defensive backs and the speed to get by the mediocre ones. He was a bit of a disappointment  last season until the final three games when he blew up for 32 catches 386 yards and four touchdowns. Expect him to be option 1, 2 and 3 in the passing game.

- Travis Lewis, Soph. - 33 catches, 331 yds, 10 ypc, 1 TD
A reserve for the basketball team, the 6-2 sophomore brings that athleticism to inside Z receiver position where he was one of the team's steadiest producers as a freshman. He's great with the ball in his hands and needs to be used as more of a gamebreaker.  

- Trumaine Riley, Sr. - 21 catches, 200 yds, 9.5 ypc
He's only 5-7 and 164 pounds, but he's extremely quick and very productive as a third receivers. He's a great kick and punt returner with fantastic open field moves.

- Tight end Ken Bohnet, Jr. - 11 catches, 64 yds, 5.4 ypc
Bohnet started his career as a quarterback before moving to tight end. he's big at 6-5 and 245 pounds and has the athleticism to be a key target. Now he needs the ball thrown more his way after fighting through a broken hand for most of last season.

Top Backups
- John Bonner, Soph. - 3 catches, 77 yds, 25.7 ypc
Bonner will be groomed to be the top deep threat on the X next year when Eric Deslauriers is gone. He has good size at 6-2 and 204 pounds with good enough speed to be a big play target.
- Jacory Stone, RFr.
Stone isn't as big as Travis Lewis on the inside Z position, but he's physical and should see plenty of time in the rotation.
- Brian Ceckiewicz, Jr.
Is this the year he'll finally be able to contribute? The 6-3, 209-pound junior has the talent to be a major player at the H and is a far bigger option than Trumaine Riley. Now he has to get healthy after having problems with a knee injury. He started his career as a quarterback, moved to safety, and now is a receiver.
- Tight end R.J. Montemayor, Sr. - 2 catches, 9 yds, 1 TD
The former JUCO transfer saw action in just about every game. He's a smaller, quicker receiver than Ken Bohnet, but doesn't have the same hands and isn't the same all-around talent.

Offensive Linemen
Four starters return to a line that was great in pass protection helped by the mobility of the quarterbacks. Now the group has to use its experience to be more consistent and better in the running game. One of the four starters, Kevin Minor, will move to a reserve role with JUCO star Tom Schmeding taking over a tackle job right away. With Schmeding on the right side, Courtney Ford will move over to the left side. The guards, Khalid Walton and Chris Thomas, have the experience and talent to grow into potential All-MAC performers.

The key to the unit: All the returning experience has to be used to be more physical in the running game. The sophomore guards of last year have to be top producing juniors.
Offensive Line Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- OT Courtney Ford, Sr.
Ford bulked up is a big way over the last few years and is now a solid 302 pounds. He came to EMU as a defensive tackle and has become a top pass blocker. He'll move from the left side to the right side.
- OG Khalid Walton, Jr.
The 320-pound junior has been a rock on the line over the last few seasons. He's not the most consistent blocker, but he's great for the running game and he has the experience to grow into an anchor.
- C Desi Mayner, Soph.
The only new starter on the line replacing long-time starter Mike Romeli, the 284-pound sophomore went from being a high school tight end to an athletic college guard.
- OG Chris Thomas, Jr.
Thomas has gotten in better and better shape over the last few years and is now a relatively streamlined 6-4 and 315 pounds. He came back from a leg injury to be one of the best players on the line and should eventually be in the hunt for All-MAC honors.
- OT Tom Schmeding, Jr.
The 6-6, 306-pound JUCO transfer is good enough to step in and start right away at right tackle pushing Courtney Ford over to the right side and forcing Kevin Minor into a reserve role.

Top Backups
- C Kevin Minor, Sr.
Minor started every game at left tackle last season and now will be a key tackle reserve while pushing for time behind Desi Mayner at center. The former tight end is athletic as well as versatile.
- T Jake Bleeker, Soph.
At 6-5 and 317 pounds, Bleeker is one of the team's biggest lineman and the biggest tackle. He'll be brought along on the right side playing behind Ton Schmeding

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