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2006 CFN Eastern
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.
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
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
Weakness: 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
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.
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.
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
Weakness: 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Weakness: 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.