2007 Eastern Michigan Preview

Posted Apr 3, 2007

Preview 2007 Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 EMU Offense Preview | 2007 EMU Defense Preview
2007 EMU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Eastern Michigan Preview 

Just when it seemed like EMU head coach Jeff Genyk had things pointed in the right direction, his quarterback situation became a disaster, the defense kept up the school’s recent tradition of not coming remotely close to stopping anyone’s offense, and all the positive strides made in 2005 were wiped away.

Making the regression even more painful was how the team got worse as the season went on losing the final five games and scoring just six point sin the final two games. Now the program has to hope all the experience will matter on defense, and all the lumps taken on offense will pay off with a veteran group that’s seen a little bit of everything.

Head coach: Jeff Genyk
4th season: 9-25
Returning Lettermen: 39
Lettermen Lost: 9
Ten Best Eagles Players
1. LB Daniel Holtzclaw, Jr.
2. QB Andy Schmitt, Soph.
3. DT Jason Jones, Sr.
4. DT Josh Hunt, Sr.
5. QB/RB Tyler Jones, Jr.
6. P Zach Johnson, Soph.
7. LB Darran Matthews, Sr.
8. FS Chris May, Soph.
9. SS Jacob Wyatt, Jr.
10. OG Khalid Walton, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10

Sept. 1

at Pitt

Sept. 8

Ball State

Sept. 15

at Northern Illinois

Sept. 22


Sept. 29

at Vanderbilt

Oct. 6

at Michigan

Oct. 13

at Ohio

Oct. 19

Northwestern (in Detroit)

Oct. 27

Western Michigan

Nov. 3

at Toledo

Nov. 9

Bowling Green

Nov. 17

at Central Michigan

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Results: 1-1
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 at Ball State L 38-20
9/9 at Michigan St L 52-20
9/16 at Northwestern L 14-6
9/23 Central Mich L 24-17 OT
9/80 at UL Lafayette L 33-14
10/14 at B Green L 24-21
10/21 Toledo W 17-13
10/28 at Western Mich L 18-13
11/4 Ohio L 16-10
11/11 Navy L 49-21
11/18 at Kent State L 14-6
11/24 Northern Illinois L 27-0

First and foremost, the offense needs to be able to rely on one quarterback for the entire season. Andy Schmitt is the best of the group, but he wasn’t able to progress and improve after getting knocked out with a shoulder injury. Tyler Jones is a good runner and talented enough player to be used in the backfield as a tailback, while small and speedy Dontayo Gage could move back over if he’s not the team’s number one receiver. Schmitt’s health is only step one of a multi-level process to get to respectability.

Step two is stopping the run. EMU’s pass defense numbers were decent mainly because everyone spent so much time pounding the ball at will. After allowing 201 rushing yards per game, the plan to use speed and quickness to slow teams down hasn’t worked. Going undersized by design hasn’t quite worked out to plan so far.

Even with all the problems, EMU has been competitive losing a whopping six games by eight points or fewer a year after losing four games by a total of seven points. If the offense can stay healthy, a running back can emerge to help carry the offensive workload, and if the defense can be mere mediocre, it might not take much to quickly turn things around and become competitive.
What to watch for on offense: Things to revolve even more around the quarterbacks early on. The attack desperately needs recruits Dwayne Priest and Aeric Clay to be playmakers from day one to provide some semblance of a running game, and someone, anyone, has to grow into a number one receiver with the loss of Eric Deslauriers and Trumaine Riley, who combined for 119 of the team’s 217 catches and five of the seven passing touchdowns (all caught by Deslauriers).

What to watch for on defense: A big improvement. Daniel Holtzclaw is a talented linebacker to revolve the front seven around, while the safeties should be better after making way too many mistakes. The D is built around quickness, and that has to translate into more pressure in the backfield from ends Eric Young, Corey Riley and Spenser Smith.

The team will be far better if … Andy Schmitt can stay healthy. To beat the point into the ground, Schmitt is the difference between EMU making major improvements and another dud of a year. He only threw two touchdowns and six interceptions, but he was accurate when he had time and showed the potential to be a player to carry the offense over the next few years. He needs time to work and receivers to throw to, but he also needs to make everyone around him better.

The Schedule: Outside of the September home game against Howard, EMU will likely be underdogs against just about everyone, but the MAC schedule isn’t all that bad. Playing at Ohio from the East is a bad break, as is facing Central Michigan on the road to end the season, but hosing Ball State and Western Michigan might help. Other than the Howard game, EMU won’t win anything in non-conference play going against Pitt, Vanderbilt, Michigan and Northwestern.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Andy Schmitt. He’s trying to come off a bad shoulder injury and has to be far better throwing the ball, but he’s a talented all-around player with excellent running skills and an accurate arm. Now he has to get the rest of the team more involved and crank out more points.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Daniel Holtzclaw. He’s not just the team’s best defensive player, he’s the team’s best defensive player by a long shot and could be the star of the league. He’s big, has good range, and is a tackling machine making play after player from his spot in the middle. He’s a lock for 100 tackles and should start to do more to get into the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Dontayo Gage. With star Eric Deslauriers gone, Gage, a former quarterback who started two games last season and threw for 110 yards and a touchdown, is likely the new number one target at the H. He’s not all that big, but he’s extremely quick and has to find all the holes while developing a rapport with Schmitt. 

The season will be a success if ... EMU wins four games. After coming so close to several wins last season, getting to the four-win mark, especially considering the Eagles will likely be underdogs in every game but the home date with Howard, would be a nice step forward. Getting more production from the defense, no matter how the final record turns out, is an absolute must.

Key game: Sept. 8 vs. Ball State. The Eagles can’t give away any home games, and considering the only likely win over the first half of the season will come against Howard, coming up with a win against the high-powered Cardinals would set the tone for later in the year and even mean a 1-0 MAC start.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 156 – Eastern Michigan 82
- Punt return average: Eastern Michigan 7.7 yards – Opponents 3.1 yards
- Penalties: Eastern Michigan 88 for 709 yards – Opponents 63 for 549 yards

Related Stories
2007 Eastern Michigan Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 3, 2007
2007 Eastern Michigan Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 3, 2007
2007 Eastern Michigan Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 3, 2007

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