Eastern Michigan Preview 2006

Posted Aug 7, 2006

It might be imperceptible to the naked eye, but Eastern Michigan made great strides last season and was better than its 4-7 record.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

The program hasn't enjoyed a winning season since 1995 and only has one winning campaign since 1989. Making things tougher have been the emergence of Central Michigan as a viable threat in the MAC and the reemergence of Western Michigan as a league power. For EMU to take the first step towards respectability, just winning the Michigan MAC isn't enough; it has to actually be better than its rival programs.

Head coach Jeff Genyk has made things better in his first two seasons, even if the overall record hasn't been that great. The defense, once the worst in America, is now merely mediocre. Don't laugh, EMU used to be really, really bad. The offense is still a work in progress, but the system is starting to take shape.

Head coach: Jeff Genyk
3rd season: 8-14
Returning Lettermen: 31
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Eagles Players
1. WR Eric Deslauriers, Sr.
2. LB Daniel Holtzclaw, Soph.
3. DE Kevin Howe, Sr.
4. PK Andrew Wallock, Sr.
5. LB Michael Richardson, Sr.
6. LB Darran Matthews, Jr.
7. TE Ken Bohnet, Jr.
8. WR Travis Lewis, Soph.
9. OG Khalid Walton, Jr.
10. QB Tyler Jones, Soph.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

8/31 at Ball State
9/9 at Michigan State
9/16 at Northwestern
9/23 Central Michigan
9/80 at UL Lafayette
10/14 at Bowling Green
10/21 Toledo
10/28 at Western Michigan
11/4 Ohio
11/11 Navy
11/18 at Kent State
11/24 Northern Illinois

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Results: 4-7

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/1 at Cincinnati L 28-26
9/10 UL Lafayette W 31-10
9/17 at Michigan  L 55-0
9/24 at CMU W 23-20 OT
10/1 Kent State W 27-20
10/8 at Toledo L 30-3
10/15 at Northern Illinois L 24-8
10/22 Miami Univ. L 24-23
11/5 Western Mich L 44-36
11/12 Ball State L 26-25
11/19 at Buffalo W 38-14

After two straight 4-7 seasons, Genyk's first goal has to be to figure out how to win close games. Over the last two seasons, EMU lost five games by a total of 11 points including a loss to Cincinnati last year by two points and losses to Miami University and Ball State by one. In other words, EMU was a little bit of luck away from being 7-4 and the hot MAC program. Yeah, wins are wins and coffee is for closers only, but for a team that got annihilated in so many games over the years, last season was a major turn upwards.

The 2006 Eagles have a mix of major strengths and screaming concerns. Four starters return to an offensive line that welcomes JUCO transfer star Tom Schmeding, but the backfield is starting from near-scratch breaking in new quarterback Tyler Jones and a slew of small, quick backs. The linebacking corps has the potential to be sensational and Kevin Howe is one of the best defensive ends in the conference, but the secondary is going to be abysmal right off the bat. 

Yes, Genyk has things pointed in the right direction and should make more noise in the West. Even with all the issues, a winning season, or at least a six win season, is very possible as long as the Eagles win every close game.

The Schedule: It starts out tough and ends up interesting. The five road games in the first six aren't as painful as they might seem with trips to Ball State and UL Lafayette along with the yearly obligatory losses to BCS conference teams playing Michigan State and Northwestern this season. Four of the final six games are at home, but there are tough battles with Toledo, Navy and Northern Illinois.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Eric Deslauriers. Consistency will be the key for one of the MAC's most talented receivers. He was shut down a little too often last season, but he also have three games with double-digit catches and has six in his career. When he's on, there are few receivers more unstoppable.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore LB Daniel Holtzclaw. Look for him to be in the hunt for MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors before his career is through. He's one of the team's strongest players and covers like a safety finishing ninth in the nation with five interceptions.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Tyler Jones. He's not big and doesn't have a huge arm, but he's accurate and extremely mobile. He has the inside track at the starting job even though he'll have to battle with several other good quarterback options to take over for Matt Bohnet.

The season will be a success if ... Eastern Michigan wins six games. This isn't a good enough team to even think about winning the MAC title, but the team hasn't won more than four games in a season since 1995 and getting five or six victories would be a nice stepping stone.

Key game: August 31st at Ball State. It's not just the opener, it's the MAC West opener against a team EMU must beat to have any realistic hopes of a winning season. A loss to the Cardinals likely means, at best, a 2-5 start and no shot to do much in the West race. A win makes things interesting.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fumbles: Opponents 17 (lost 9) - Eastern Michigan 11 (lost 4)
- Attendance for EMU's game vs. Michigan: 109,511 - Attendance for all five EMU homes games combined: 32,065
- Eastern Michigan tied Central Michigan with the fewest turnovers in the nation, 10.

The Last Time Eastern Michigan…
…played in a bowl game…1987 (California Bowl vs. San Jose State)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1997 (Akron)
…was shutout…2005 (Michigan)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Central Michigan)
…went undefeated…1945
…won a conference title…1987 (MAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1997 (Charlie Batch)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2003 (Anthony Sherrell)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Eric Deslauriers)
…had a first-round draft choice…1997 (T L.J. Shelton)

Related Stories
Eastern Michigan Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
Eastern Mich. Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
Eastern Michigan Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006

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