2007 Eastern Michigan Preview - Offense

Posted Apr 3, 2007

Preview 2007 Eastern Michigan Eagles Offense

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know: New offensive coordinator Scott Ispohording has his work cut out for him despite getting seven starters back along with a ton of experienced depth. The supposed wide-open offense was awful with no ground game from the running backs and even less of a passing attack with quarterbacks Andy Schmitt and Tyler Jones basically running, running and running some more. The line should be better with three returning starters and a decent interior, but the offense won't go anywhere unless Pierre Walker, or possible Jones, turns into a reliable tailback. The loss of top receiver Eric Deslauriers means the passing game will be spread out among several options with the hope for former quarterback Dontayo Gage to turn into a true number one.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andy Schmitt
131-213, 1,182 yds, 2 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Andy Schmitt
107 carries, 461 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Dontayo Gage
28 catches, 169 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Andy Schmitt
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR Dontayo Gage
Unsung star on the rise: Junior C Desi Mayner
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Khalid Walton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Schmitt, 2) QB/RB Tyler Jones, 3) Walton
Strength of the offense: Quarterbacks
Weakness of the offense:
Proven number one receiver, running backs


Projected Starter: When he's right, sophomore Andy Schmitt is a difference maker who can carry the offense all by himself, and has often had to. At 6-4 and 221 pounds, he's a big passer with a nice arm and tremendous mobility, but he's coming off major shoulder surgery after getting beaten up all of last year. Despite starting in just seven games he led the team with 461 yards and four touchdowns. While he only threw two touchdown passes along with six interceptions, he was generally accurate and finished as the team's passing yardage leader. Fortunately, the shoulder injury was in such a way that it should heal completely by the start of the year.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Tyler Jones filled in for Schmitt throughout last season and even started twice at tailback. He's a strong runner finishing second on the team with 310 yards and four touchdowns while passing for four scores and nine interceptions, and while he'll be the starter until Schmitt is ready, his biggest impact might be in the backfield as a runner. He's coming off a shoulder problem that bothered him all season long and finally got cleaned up this off-season.

Redshirt freshman Ben Thayer got a lot of practice work with Schmitt and Jones hurt, and he appears to be further along than the coaching staff had planned he'd be. He's a big passer, but he doesn't have the same running skills as the top two. True freshmen
Kyle McMahon and Jason Williams will likely be redshirted, but if Jones and Schmitt have problems with their shoulders again, that could quickly change.

Watch Out For ... Schmitt to have to carry the load as much as ever early on. The running backs are average and the receiving corps will be a wok in progress. He'll likely be the team's leading rusher more often than not.
Strength: Depth. Schmitt and Jones can each carry the offense and are the team's top two offensive players. The offense can't go wrong with either one, while Thayer is a decent third option.  
Workload. The quarterbacks had to do so much last season that they got beaten to a pulp. They'll have to do a little of everything again, which isn't always a bad thing, but if they're not on, EMU doesn't have a shot to win much.
Outlook: As long as everyone's healthy, this will be one the team's strengths. Schmitt has All-MAC talent if he can make more big plays with the passing game, but he should be able to spread it around well. Jones is as dangerous a backup as there is in the MAC. The quarterbacks have to be around 60-65% in completion percentage and has to throw more touchdown passes than interceptions.
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter: The running game became non-existent, at least when it came to production from the running backs, after Pierre Walker hurt his foot ending his season after five games. He didn't exactly light the world on fire beforehand rushing for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games, but he provided a little bit of balance. Even at just 5-7 and 206 pounds, he's a tremendous blocker and can grow into a decent receiver if used right.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Dwayne Harrison stepped in over the second half of the year when Walker went down and finished as the team's fourth leading rusher. However, he only gained 116 yards in six starts having injury problems of his own. While he's quick, he hasn't shown enough to be a factor for the number one job going into the year.

Redshirt freshman Mark Mitchell moved over from the secondary to a more natural tailback position. He's one of the faster options with the hands to be moved to receiver if needed.

Redshirt freshman L.J Robertson has the best all-around talent of any of the backs with nice speed and a good burst, but he has to become a reliable blocker.

235-pound junior Terrence Blevins provides the power along with a little bit of experience rushing for 106 yards on 26 carries as a spot starter. 5-6 scatback Tyree Harris is one of the team's quickest players, but he was too small for cornerback and moved over to the offense. The real production should start to come this fall with top recruits
Dwayne Priest and Aeric Clay hit campus.

Watch Out For ... a steady rotation of runners, if QB Tyler Jones doesn't become the full-time featured tailback. Walker isn't a 20-carry-a-game workhorse, and the coaching staff would like to take some of the pressure off the quarterbacks. The key will be to find the hot hand early on and go with him. There are more than a few options to look at.
Strength: Quickness. Speed isn't a problem with just about all the options able to get from point A to point B in a big hurry. Whether or not any of them will get the room to move, or be patient enough to wait and read the holes, is another story.
Power and production. Outside of possible Blevins, there's not a thumper who can wear down defenses. EMU's running game all came from the quarterbacks last season even when Walker was healthy. If the running backs (not counting Jones) can combine for 1,000 yards, it'll be a plus.
Outlook: Injuries decimated the backfield last season, but it might have shown the coaching staff that Jones, the backup quarterback, is actually the best option. There's enough speed and quickness for more production if the line does a better job of opening holes and getting the backs around the corner. While Walker is the number one runner going into the year mainly because of his blocking, don't expect him to finish the season as the starter.
Rating: 4


Projected Starters: With the loss of one of EMU's all-time greats, Eric Deslauriers, along with speedy Trumaine Riley, sophomore Dontayo Gage goes from being a nice complimentary receiver to the number one guy. The former quarterback was third on the team with 28 catches for 169 yards averaging a mere six yards per grab, while completing 12 of 23 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. He's small, very quick, and should grow into a bit of a game-breaker at the H.

Taking over for Deslauriers at the X is sophomore Jacory Stone, who got five starts catching 13 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. He's a physical receiver with the straight-line speed to get deep. While he needs to be a bit of a home-run hitter, just being consistent would be nice.

Senior Travis Lewis returns to his starting spot at the inside Z position, where he caught ten passes for 89 yards and a score after a berakout sophomore campaign when he caught 33 passes for 331 yards and a score. One of the team's more athletic players, the 6-2, 197 pounder is one of the basketball team's best defensive stoppers.

Former quarterback Ken Bohnet has created a niche for himself as a good tight end being used mostly as a blocker with just 20 catches in two years. He missed the last few games of last season with a broken hand, but he's fine and now needs to use his experience to become a key target.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Nate Beard is an intriguing option at the H behind Gage. The West Virginia State transfer is quick and should be able to find the holes in the seam.

Also pushing Gage for time will be sophomore DeAnthony White, a small, quick receiver who got a few starts last year finishing fourth on the team in receiving with 15 catches for 175 yards. He'll be in the hunt for a starting job this fall.

Redshirt freshman Brandon Pratt was a good recruit for the program a few years ago and should now be a key player in the rotation behind Stone at the X.

Junior Reggie Brown got the starting nod in the season finale loss to Northern Illinois, but he didn't catch a pass. He'll start out as a reserve at the X, but could play at any of the three receiver spots.

True freshman Jeffrey Brown came to school a semester early and should be a major factor at the H. At 6-2 and 196 pounds, he's one of the team's bigger targets.

Backing up at tight end will be junior John Bonner, at 6-2, 220 pound spot starter who's more of a receiver than Bohnet catching seven passes for 95 yards. He's not much of a blocker, but he has good speed.

209-pound redshirt freshman Josh LeDuc and 220-pound redshirt freshman Sonny Paluch will combine to see time in the rotation, mainly behind Bonner.

Watch Out For ... the receiving corps to struggle all season long to find a go-to, number one receiver. It might take half the year for one to emerge unless the light goes on for Gage. The coaching staff will have to work to find which of the new targets can produce.
Newcomers. There might not be a Deslauriers, but there are several new, interesting prospects who'll now see plenty of action with the workload needing to be spread around.
There's almost no one to rely on right away. Deslauriers caught five of the team's seven touchdown passes, and while Gage should turn out to be solid, there star power isn't there. The quarterbacks are going to have to make this group better. That could be a problem.
Outlook: Without the team's top two receivers of last season, who combined for 119 of the team's 217 catches, the corps will be a work in progress. Several players are getting looks at key spots with the hope for one or two players to come from out of the blue and shine. Expect the passing game to use everyone, which could turn out to be a positive.
Rating: 4

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: EMU is set at guard with returning starters Andy Fretz and Khalid Walton back. Fretz, a sophomore, took his lumps last year but turned out to be fine as the season went on starting every game at left guard. The former defensive lineman isn't huge at 6-2 and 280 pounds, but he's physical. Walton is the senior member up front with 33 starts over the last three seasons seeing time at both guard positions. He's now a fixture at right guard, and at 6-4 and 310 pounds, is the team's biggest lineman.

Injured for most of last season before starting the final three games, 284-pound junior Desi Mayner will take over in the middle for Chris Thomas, who started ten games last season. Mayner's not as big as Thomas weighing roughly 15 pounds less, but he's more athletic and should offer an upgrade.

Left tackle is set with junior T.J. Lang, who started every game last season after moving over from the defensive side. At only 6-3 and 265 pounds, he's not going to run over anyone, but he's quick in pass protection.

The right tackle job is open for a battle with 6-5, 260-pound sophomore Stephen Johnson likely to get the first look. The former defensive lineman saw time in three games as a true freshman making three tackles.

Projected Top Reserves: While Johnson will most likely fight through the growing pains at right tackle, 6-5, 265-pound redshirt freshman Dan DeMaster will push for time seeing plenty of action in the rotation at both tackle spots.

Junior Chris Larkins is part tight end, part tackle seeing time at left tackle. While he's only 6-2 and 260 pounds, he can move.

The backup center situation will be a work in progress with redshirt freshmen Eric Davis and Matt Keevan battling it out. The line is small, but these two are really light with David weighing 245 pounds and Keevan 220.

6-0, 309-pound Joe Charles is a bowling ball of a former defensive lineman trying to add some bulk and depth at right guard behind Walton. 6-5, 300-pound sophomore Ross Peterson is a bigger option than Fretz at left guard.

Watch Out For ... the interior of the line to be one of the strengths of the offense. Walton and Fretz aren't going to make any all-star teams, but they're solid. Mayner is a more than serviceable center.
Strength: Experience at guard. Getting Lang back at left tackle and Mayner at center will be a big help, but it's Walton and Fretz who'll be the leaders up front. EMU rarely got any push in the middle for the ground game and needs to be stronger with its veterans returning.
Size at tackle. By design, the tackles are smaller and more athletic, but that hasn't meant much. If they're not keeping the quarterbacks clean, they're not doing much good. There aren't any big options to go with on the outside if the coaching staff wants to change things up.
Outlook: Despite having a ton of experience, the line struggled last season in pass protection and didn't get anything going in the running game. Now the front five has a nice mix of veterans and decent prospects to hope for more production. Better play from the skill players would help the line look better, but it also works in reverse. This group has to be far better if EMU is going to improve the overall numbers.
Rating: 4.5


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

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Eastern Michigan
[View My HotList]