2007 Eastern Michigan Eagles

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Eastern Michigan Eagles Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Recap: It was, to say the least, a strange year for Eastern Michigan, which beat in-state rivals Central Michigan and Western Michigan to win the Michigan MAC Trophy, yet won only two other times.  In all, the Eagles felt pretty good about their progress in 2007, improving by three games over the prior year and playing well even when they lost.  An opportunistic group, EMU was No. 2 in the league in turnover margin, and surprisingly sound in the trenches, paving the way for a monster finish from RB Pierre Walker.               

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Pierre Walker

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Daniel Holtzclaw

Biggest Surprise: Beating Western Michigan was a surprise, but handling Central Michigan, the eventual MAC champion, was a shocker.  Rallying from a 38-28 deficit in the fourth quarter, Eastern Michigan got huge days on the ground from Walker and QB Andy Schmitt to leave Mt. Pleasant with a season-ending 48-45 upset.       

Biggest Disappointment: A visit from Bowling Green on Nov. 9 was one that got away for Eastern Michigan.  The Eagles got off to a smoking start and ran the ball extremely well, but blew leads three different times, the last one on a Tyler Sheehan touchdown plunge late in the final quarter.     

Looking Ahead: Through improved recruiting, Jeff Genyk has Eastern Michigan gradually moving in a northerly direction.  Assuming the Eagles develop an adequate replacement for Walker and build on last year's strides, a .500 record could be within reach in 2008.

- 2007 EMU Preview 
2006 EMU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10
2007 Season: 4-8

Sept. 1 at Pitt L 27-3
Sept. 8
Ball State L 38-16
Sept. 15 at No Illinois W 21-19
Sept. 22
Howard W 38-15
Sept. 29 at Vanderbilt L 30-7
Oct. 6 at Michigan L 33-22
Oct. 13 at Ohio L 48-32
Oct. 19 Nwestern
L 26-14
Oct. 27 Western Mich W 19-2
Nov. 3 at Toledo L 52-28
Nov. 9
Bo. Green L 39-32
Nov. 16 at CMU  W 48-45

Nov 16
Eastern Michigan 48 ... Central Michigan 45
Pierre Walker scored his third touchdown with 3:08 to play, but the extra point failed allowing CMU one final shot in the shootout. Dan LeFevour got the Chippewas down to the EMU 14, but an unsportsmanlike penalty pushed it back to the 34 and a fourth and 30. Andrew Aguila's 52-yard field goal attempt went wide left to seal the Eagle win. LeFevour ran for three touchdowns for CMU on the way to a 38-28 lead, but the Eagle rallied in the fourth quarter on a three-yard Andy Schmitt touchdown run, his third score of the day, and Walker ran for an 11-yard score to give EMU the lead, before Justin Hoskins ran for a 12-yard touchdown to give CMU its final lead.
Player of the game: Eastern Michigan RB Pierre Walker ran 31 times for 149 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 25-34, 212 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 31-149, 3 TD. Receiving: Jacory Stone, 7-58
Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 26-47, 246 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Justin Hoskins, 11-133, 2 TD. Receiving:
Justin Gardner, 7-65
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Finishing off the season with a clutch win over Central Michigan puts a gap on a nice finishing kick. EMU might have only won two of its final eight games, but it won two of the last four and was competitive against Bowling Green and Toledo. The team was competitive last year in several close losses, and now there were a few wins to close out. Better yet, the team got better as the season went on. Will it be enough for Jeff Genyk to stay around? Possibly.

Nov 9
Bowling Green 39 ... Eastern Michigan 32
Tyler Sheehan snuck it in from a yard out with just under four minutes to play to give Bowling Green the lead, and Eastern Michigan failed to respond with its final drive halted on a fourth down incompletion. Eastern Michigan got 155 yards and a five-yard touchdown run from Pierre Walker, along with two touchdown passes and an eight-yard scoring run from Andy Schmitt. The Falcons always had a response, getting a fumble recovery for a score early in the third quarter and two Anthony Turner touchdown runs. It was a nearly dead-even game with BGSU outgaining EMU 419 yards to 403.
Player of the game: Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan completed 20 of 32 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran ten times for 65 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 12-18, 134 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 31-155, 1 TD. Receiving: Ken Bohnet, 3-23, 1 TD
Bowling Green - Passing: Tyler Sheehan, 20-32, 230 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Tyler Sheehan, 10-65, 1 TD. Receiving: Anthony Turner, 6-53

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pierre Walker had yet another tremendous game, running for 155 yards on Bowling Green, but the team failed to capitalize on a strong first half to take a big lead, and the Falcons were able to come back in the second half. The Eagle played a solid game offensively, but the defense struggled for the second straight week despite staying off the field for extended stretches. The Eagles finish up with West champion Central Michigan, but the Chippewas don't have anything to play for. EMU has to take advantage for its fourth win of the year.

Nov 3
Toledo 52 ... Eastern Michigan 28
Toledo cranked out 600 yards of total offense, and it needed most of them despite getting out to a 28-7 first half lead on Jalen Parmele touchdown runs from 31 and 29 yards out, and touchdown catches from 20 and 64 yards away from Stephen Williams. Eastern Michigan's Pierre Walker went nuts with 168 yards and scoring runs from one yard, three yards and one yard out to help make it interesting. But every time the Eagles made if close, Toledo pulled away. Parmele finished with three touchdown runs and DaJuane Collins added two rushing touchdowns as the Rocket rolled up 324 yards on the ground.
Player of the game: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele ran 22 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns. 
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 10-17, 111 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 22-93, 3 TD. Receiving: Tyler Jones, 5-54
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 17-29, 276 yds, 2 TD
Jalen Parmele, 22-168, 3 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 6-150, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Where has Pierre Walker been hiding? After running for 151 yards against Western Michigan, he tore off 93 yards and three scores against Toledo to take the heat off Andy Schmitt and the passing game. Of course, the defense, a week after stuffing the Broncos, didn't have a prayer of keeping Toledo under wraps, but this was an aberration. Stopping Bowling Green next week, at least the passing game, will be a must, and Walker has to keep on producing for EMU to finish strong.

Oct. 27
Eastern Michigan 19 ... Western Michigan 2
Eastern Michigan held on to the ball for 40:29, including 12:41 in the fourth, getting a 55-yard Dontayo Gage touchdown run, a 19-yard Jacory Stone catch, and Zach Johnson field goals from 25 and 50 yards out as part of a 19-0 scoring run. Western Michigan started off the scoring with a sack for a safety, but the offense turned it over six times and only managed 199 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Eastern Michigan RB Pierre Walker ran 33 times for 151 yards, and caught a pass for seven yards.
Stat Leaders: Western Michigan - Passing: Tim Hiller, 10-18, 117 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Brandon West, 10-37. Receiving: Jamarko Simmons, 6-59
Eastern Michigan - Passing: Kyle McMahon, 8-17, 74 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Pierre Walker, 33-151. Receiving: Jacory Stone, 5-70, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It could be argued that the win over Western Michigan was the best yet in the Jeff Genyk era. It was nearly perfect with great ball control on offense, tough defense that forced six turnovers, and a little bit of explosion to the ground game. There wasn't much of a passing game, but that's nitpicking in what needs to be seen as a possible turning point. Now a win over a high-powered Toledo team is a must to show that this wasn't a fluke.

Oct. 19
Northwestern 26 ... Eastern Michigan 14
It took Northwestern a while to wake up, but eventually, the offense got going with C.J. Bacher leading the offense 82 yards, with a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and then ended the drama with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Kim Thompson. EMU hung tough with Kyle McMahon, in for an injured Andy Schmitt at quarterback, running for scores from five and 19 yards out. Four turnovers proved costly for the Eagles, who were outgained 516 yards to 381.
Player of the game: Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher completed 41 of 58 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns, and ran seven times for 21 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Northwestern - Passing: C.J. Bacher, 41-58, 470 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Omar Conteh, 14-81. Receiving: Eric Peterman, 12-114, 1 TD
Eastern Michigan - Passing: Kyle McMahon, 28-48, 282 yds, 3 INT
Kyle McMahon, 13-44, 2 TD. Receiving: Tyler Jones, 8-104
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The EMU offense did a fairly decent job against Northwestern considering starting QB Andy Schmitt was out with a shoulder injury. As has been the problem all year long, there hasn't been any production from the running backs, and not enough big plays from the receiving corps. The big issues was red zone turnovers, as EMU had its chances, but didn't always taek advantage. Overall, the team is playing better, especially on defense, at least compared to last week against Ohio, but the result was still a fourth straight loss. Western Michigan is up next for what might amount as a must-win for the coaching staff.

Oct. 13
Ohio 48 ... Eastern Michigan 42
Ohio got out to a 28-0 lead helped by two Kalvin McRae touchdown runs, and then held on for deal life as EMU stormed back with 14 points in each of the last three quarter. Andy Schmitt threw four touchdown passes including two to Jacory Stone, and the defense got into the act with a 80-yard Derrick Hunter fumble return for a touchdown late in the second half. Tyler Jones caught two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a five-yarder with just over a minute to play, but the Bobcats recovered the onside kick. The two teams combined for 935 yards of total offense, and 19 penalties.
Player of the game: Ohio RB Kalvin McRae ran 32 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 14 yards.
Stat Leaders: Ohio - Passing: Brad Bower, 18-29, 232 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kalvin McRae, 32-170, 2 TD. Receiving: Taylor Price, 5-83, 1 TD
Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 20-28, 210 yds, 4 TD
Andy Schmitt, 15-55. Receiving: Jacory Stone, 9-62, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense showed a pulse against Michigan, and then finally, for the first time all year, the attack exploded with a tremendous day against Ohio. In the end, the 28-0 deficit was too much to overcome, but Andy Schmitt was on fire, while Jacory Stone and Tyler Jones each had strong days burning the Bobcat secondary. Now the team has to put it all together again against a red-hot Northwestern offense. Can the Eagles get into another shootout? It had better be ready.

Oct. 6
Michigan 33 ... Eastern Michigan 22
It wasn't a smooth game, but Michigan was able to get ahead 10-0 and never trail, as Chad Henne connected with Adrian Arrington for a 31-yard touchdown, while Mike Hart became the school's all-time leading rusher and ran for scores from four, 24 and 17 yards out. Eastern Michigan stated alive early on two Zack Johnson field goals, and a two-point conversion off a blocked extra point, and pulled within two on a ten-yard Andy Schmitt touchdown run, but the Wolverines cranked out 17 straight points to finally pull away.
Player of the game: Michigan RB Michael Hart ran for 215 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, catching three passes for 18 yards.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 15-28, 108 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Andy Schmitt, 9-41, 1 TD. Receiving: Travis Lewis, 4-54
Michigan - Passing: Chad Henne, 17-26, 195 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Mike Hart, 22-215, 3 TDs. Receiving: Adrian Arrington, 6-102, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Considering EMU was playing Michigan, this might have been the team's best game of the year. The defense didn't have a prayer of stopping Mike Hart, but no one has had any luck with that. For the first time in a while, the offense has shown signs of life, even if it was all Andy Schmitt, who did a nice job of using all his receivers and spreading it out. EMU simply doesn't have the playmakers to explode against a team like Michigan, but it found a way to stay competitive.

Sept. 29
Vanderbilt 31 ... Ole Miss 17
Vanderbilt got up 20-0, highlighted by a 47-yard Earl Bennett touchdown grab. Sean Walker scored from 17 yards out, and Bryant Hahnfeldt nailed three field goals. But the game was won on defense, as the Commodores forced six turnovers, with D.J. Moore taking a pick 24 yards for a touchdown. EMU got its only points on a 14-yard Travis Lewis catch in the third.
Player of the game: Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett made nine catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 13-24, 111 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 13-34. Receiving: Ken Bohnet, 4-39
Vanderbilt - Passing: Chris Nickson, 14-28, 168 yds, 2 TD, 4 INT
Cassen Jackson-Garrison, 23-76. Receiving: Earl Bennett, 9-93, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
EMU isn't good enough to turn it over six times and commit nine penalties. The offense simply doesn't have any playmakers. That might sound like a broken record, but it continues to be an issue with nothing to count on, and next to nothing from the running game. The team didn't have a prayer after getting down early against Vanderbilt, and it's only going to get worse with road trips to Michigan and Ohio ahead.

Sept. 22
Eastern Michigan 38 ... Howard 15
Andy Schmitt threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers and Pierre Walker ran for a seven-yard score on the second play from scrimmage as the Eagles rolled to an easy win. EMU started off the game with an on-side kick and recovered, leading to the Walker score, and the rout was on. Down 31-0 late in the third, Howard scored twice late in the game with two Brian Johnson touchdown passes, but the Eagles would make the final score look better with a 12-yard Travis Lewis scoring grab with 35 seconds left. Daniel Holtzclaw made 19 tackles for EMU.
Player of the game: Eastern Michigan QB Andy Schmitt threw for 214 yards and four touchdown passes on 14-of-21 passing.
Stat Leaders: Howard - Passing: Brian Johnson, 20-32, 167 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing: Brian Johnson, 22-136. Receiving: Jarahn Williams, 5-25, 1 TD
Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 14-21, 214 yds, 4 TDs
Pierre Walker, 16-52, 1 TD. Receiving: Jacory Stone, 4-66

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... With a two-game winning streak, it's time the program enjoys a little bit of the moment. Wins haven't been easy to come by in Ypsilanti, but now at 2-2, the hope is for a corner to finally be turned. Of course, beating Howard isn't anything to do carthwheels over, and there were way too many problems with the run defense, but the offense had its second straight decent week and is going into Vanderbilt on a roll.

Sept. 15
Eastern Michigan 21 ... Northern Illinois 19
Eric Young blocked a 50-yard NIU field goal attempt as time ran out to seal the two-point win for EMU. Daniel Holtzclaw picked off a pass that led to a Pierre Walker one-yard touchdown with 5:29 to play to give EMU a 21-13 lead, but NIU would bounce back. The Huskies went 58 yards in four plays with Brandon Davis catching a seven-yard touchdown pass with just over four minutes left, but the pass two point conversion attempt failed. EMU went three and out, giving the Huskies the ball back with 1:54 to play, leading to the ill-fated final drive. NIU held a 13-0 lead in the first half, but Walker got in from one-yard out with 22 seconds remaining. The Eagles took the lead on a 68-yard DeAnthony White touchdown dash, and never trailed the rest of the way.
Player of the game: Eastern Michigan LB Daniel Holtzclaw made 13 tackles, a tackle for loss, and an interception that set up the game-winning touchdown
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 16-24, 189 yds
Rushing: DeAnthony White, 3-78, 1 TD. Receiving: DeAnthony White, 5-89
Northern Illinois - Passing: Dan Nicholson, 20-28, 160 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Justin Anderson, 28-168, 1 TD. Receiving: Justin Anderson, 6-45

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... For the first time in what seems like years, Eastern Michigan got explosion out of the offense, big plays from the defense, and real, live win over Northern Illinois. Andy Schmitt had an efficient day throwing the ball, but there weren't many long, sustained drives, needing the big play to generate points after a rocky start. With Howard up next, EMU can honestly think about a two-game winning streak.

Sept. 8
Ball State 38 ... Eastern Michigan 16
Ball State got four Nate Davis touchdown passes with three going to Dante Love on the way to an easy win. EMU had several chances to get into the game, but 24-pound run ended any hopes. The Eagles got a 67-yard touchdown catch from DeAnthony White and a 90-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter following a 27-yard Love scoring grab. 
Player of the game: Ball State QB Nate Davis threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns on 19-of-38 passing.
Stat Leaders: Ball State
- Passing: Nate Davis, 19-38, 306 yds, 4 TDs
Rushing: MiQuale Lewis, 21-73, 1 TD. Receiving: Dante Love, 7-114, 2 TDs
Eastern Michigan
- Passing: Andy Schmitt, 16-24, 155 yds, 1 TDs
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 15-65. Receiving: DeAnthony White, 7-94, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Eagles can't seem to make their own offensive breaks, and they weren't able to come up with any big second half drives to change the momentum against Ball State. The secondary couldn't stop Nate Davis and Dante Love, having a hard time getting the Cardinals off the field, and the running game didn't do nearly enough to force BSU to do anything drastic. Basically, the offense has to start going on longer drives and has to start giving the defense some breaks.

Sept. 1
Pitt 27 ... Eastern Michigan 3
Pitt had few problems with Eastern Michigan, but it took a quarter. The Eagles struck first on a 27-yard Sean Dutcher field goal, and then Pitt reeled off 27 unanswered points as Shane Brooks ran for two one-yard scores, Bill Stull hit Oderick Turner on a 21-yard touchdown pass, and Conor Lee nailed two fourth quarter field goals. The defense held EMU to just eight first downs and 145 yards of total offense, while the Panther attack held on to the ball for close to 22 minutes of the second half.
Player of the game ... Pitt QB Bill Stull went 14-of-20 for 177 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game injured.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan Passing: Andy Schmitt, 16-27, 106 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 11-30  Receiving: Travis Lewis, 5-52
Pittsburgh - Passing: Bill Stull, 14-20, 177 yds, 1 TD
LeSean McCoy, 10-68  Receiving: Marcel Pestano, 3-72
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Eagles have to quickly find an identity. The defense wasn't bad against Pitt, but the offense failed to find any sort of a groove and didn't come up with a single big play. Andy Schmitt didn't provide any spark under center, and Tyler Jones didn't do anything in his limited work. This is an attack in desperate need of playmakers, and they need to emerge in a big hurry or this will be an ugly start to the year. A win over Ball State next week is a must with four of the following five games on the road.

Sept. 1 – at Pitt
Offense: The graduation of Tyler Palko leaves a gaping hole on the Panther offense that'll be filled by either junior Bill Stull or hot-shot rookie Pat Bostick.  Whoever gets the ball will enjoy an outstanding supporting cast that includes junior running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, one of the deepest receiving corps in the nation and the program's best front wall since Dave Wannstedt arrived.  Wannstedt and Matt Cavanaugh want to establish a more physical ground game, but if the new hurler is up to the challenge, the ensuing balance will make this a very dangerous offense.   
Defense: Last year's defense had big names, like H.B. Blades and Darrelle Revis, with poor results.  This year's defense is devoid of stars, but might wind up being statistically better.  The key will be stopping the run, something that vexed the Panthers throughout the second half of the 2006 season.  The difference this fall will be a defensive line that'll be much deeper than last year, and capable of creating inside-outside pressure with junior tackle Gus Mustakas and senior end Joe Clermond.  Although replacing Revis won't be a snap, the secondary is busting with potential from future all-Big East players, like sophomores Aaron Berry and Elijah Fields.     

Sept. 8 - Ball State
Offense: The offense grew into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.
Defense: Awful for the last two seasons, the defense started to get a little better as last year went on and should make even bigger strides with plenty of experience returning. Six starters are back, and most of the new starters have seen enough time to be ready to hit the ground running. The 3-4 is good at getting into the backfield, but there haven't been enough sacks and not nearly enough consistent production against power running teams. The pass defense has been non-existent for the last two seasons. Corners Trey Lewis and Trey Buice have been around, and can hit, but if they don't cover better, the Cardinals won't be able to take the next step.

Sept. 15 – at Northern Illinois
Offense: New offensive coordinator Roy Wittke will put his stamp on the attack early on with more passing plays, more variety, and more funky motions and formations. That'll all mean more from the passing game, and while it wasn't ignored last year, it was mostly used when Garrett Wolfe was either tired or shut down. Six starters return, but this is still a young group with only two seniors on the depth chart. The line was a problem this spring, but it's very big with the potential to be great ... next year. There will be a steady rotation of backs, led mostly by Montell Clanton and Justin Anderson, and more passes spread around, with Britt Davis the number one target. Dan Nicholson has to be a steady leader of the show.
Defense: The NIU defense is steady with several good, sound players, but for all the quickness and all the athleticism, there weren't nearly enough big plays, not enough production from the secondary, and a good, but not great, year against the run. While the corners will be better, expect more of the same from the front seven; for good and bad. End Larry English and tackle Craig Rusch will be regulars in the backfield. This won't be the nation's 90th ranked defense again, and it'll do a good job of bending, but not breaking.

Sept. 22 - Howard

Sept. 29 – at Vanderbilt
Offense: The offense is loaded with experience with nine starters returning including tackle Brian Stamper, who missed most of last year. The line should be tremendous with five senior starters that know how to pass protect and should be better for the running game. Junior receiver Earl Bennett is one of the nation's most productive playmakers and should finally start to get the attention he deserves. Quarterback Chris Nickson is a dangerous run/pass combination with the potential to grow into a star if he can cut down on his interceptions. The running backs aren't special, but they're experienced.
Defense: Vanderbilt won't have one of the SEC's better defenses, but it'll be far better with seven returning starters and plenty of experience. Most importantly, there are plenty of all-stars to build around. Tackle Theo Horrocks, end Curtis Gatewood, safeties Reshard Langford and Ryan Hamilton, and linebacker Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs are all capable of making All-SEC teams. The cornerbacks have to shine, a second defensive tackle has to take the heat off Horrocks, and the stars have to be stars for a major overall improvement. Coming up with more turnovers would be nice, but just being better in all areas might be enough to dramatically change the record.

Oct. 6 – at Michigan
Offense: Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord didn't change things up much in his first year, and there aren't going to be a lot of bells and whistles for an attack with all the stars returning. Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Mario Manningham form the best skill trio in America, while tackle Jake Long and quarter Adam Kraus form one of the nation's best left sides. The only issue is depth, which is stunning undeveloped or a program like Michigan. Of course there are talented prospects waiting in the wings, but there will be major problems if injuries strike early on.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Ron English did a fantastic job in his first season sending the dogs loose to attack more than previous Michigan teams. Now the hope will be for overall speed and athleticism to make up for the lack of experience and a few gaping holes. This won't be the nation's number one run defense again, and it won't be fourth in sacks, but it will create plenty of turnovers and force a ton of mistakes. It'll also give up too many big pass plays. The safeties are fine, the linebacking corps won't be an issue, even without David Harris to anchor things anymore, and the line, in time, will grow into a strength. The biggest issue will be at corner, where Morgan Trent isn't a number one lockdown defender, and there are several untested prospects waiting to get their chance to shine.

Oct. 13 – at Ohio
Offense: You know the fastball is coming, but can you hit it? Ohio will try to add more passing to the attack, but this is a running team that'll pound away with Kalvin McRae behind a good, though not as good as last year, offensive line. The attack has to be more versatile after being stuck in the mud against the good teams on the schedule, and that's where new starting quarterback Brad Bower comes in. He'll be looking to add more passing to the mix, but he doesn't have a great receiving corps to work with. The tight ends will get more involved this year to try to keep things moving.
Defense: The defense made a night-and-day improvement from 2005, and should be among the best in the MAC again if replacements can be found for the three star linebackers and All-MAC corner T.J. Wright. The defensive line is big and active, and it needs to be stronger against the run. Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with All-MAC end Jameson Hartke leading the way. The safeties will be fantastic leading a deep and talented group. It's all up to the linebackers, who have talent, but are relatively inexperienced and haven't stayed healthy.

Oct. 19 - Northwestern
Offense: After a year of trying to get the quarterback situation straight, mostly due to an injury to C.J. Bacher early on, the offense should start to shine as long as there aren't major injury problems up front. The line, with four good starters returning led by center Trevor Rees and tackle Dylan Thiry, will be one of the most effective in the Big Ten, but the developed depth isn't quite there yet. Tyrell Sutton will once again be one of the nation's best all-around backs and should be a lock for 1,000 yards for the third straight season. The big improvement should be in the passing game, as long as Bacher is healthy, with an interesting and promising group of receivers ready to emerge.
Defense: Even though there wasn't much in the way of a pass rush, there weren't any plays in the backfield, and the run defense struggled, the defense made major strides after a disastrous 2005. Now this should be one of the better Wildcat defenses in years with a big, talented front four that should start generating some sort of consistent pressure. Adam Kadela leads a decent linebacking corps, while the safety tandem of Brendan Smith and Reggie McPherson should be rock-solid. This isn't a fast defense and it's thin in key areas like free safety and tackle, but there's enough all-around talent to keep the mediocre offenses under wraps.

Oct. 27 - Western Michigan
Offense: The parts are there, and now the production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch. Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as average as it was last year.
Offense: It's not a big D, but it's very quick, very disruptive, and very good. After a big year, the MAC's number one defense gets eight starters back. The line will get in the backfield early and often with the return of Zach Davidson and big-play tackles Nick Varcadipane and Cory Flom. The secondary is loaded with speed and experience with all four starters returning after helping the D pick off 24 passes. The big concern is at outside linebacker after losing Ameer Ismail and Paul Tithof, but Austin Pritchard is a rising star and Dustin Duclo is good in the middle.

Nov. 3 – at Toledo
Offense: Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Tim Rose has done a good job over the last two years using a flexible 3-4 alignment that occasionally morphs into a 4-2-5. Now it has to be better after getting bombed on by everyone over the first half of last year and only produced once the schedule lightened up. Seven starters return along with plenty of depth, especially up front, and now there have to be more big plays and more pressure into the backfield. Greg Hay and Keith Forestal form a strong 1-2 linebacking punch, while the safety tandem of Tyrrell Herbert and Barry Church is among the best in the MAC.

Nov. 9 - Bowling Green
Offense: The offense went from being all-pass, no-run in 2005 to being a running team last year thanks to mobile quarterbacks in Anthony Turner, and early on, Freddie Barnes. Now there's a battle between Turner and Tyler Sheehan for the starting job with the hopes of balancing things out. The backfield should be excellent with the addition of JUCO transfer Eric Ransom to go along with power of Chris Bullock and Dan Macon. All-star center Kory Lichtensteiger leads a a good line that should get better and better as the year goes on. The one area of development will be receiver with some deep threats needing to emerge to go along with mid-range possession-target Corey Partridge.
Defense: Bowling Green might not always be a brick wall on defense, but it will do whatever it can to make plays all over the field. Last year this was a break-but-don't bend defense giving up points, but not yards. Now it needs to stiffen. With an emphasis on speed and quickness, the front seven will be flying around looking to get into the backfield to dictate the tempo, while the solid secondary will benefit. There might be problems against the better power running teams with a new set of tackles and smallish linebacking corps, but that'll be offset by the big plays ... at least that's the hope.

Nov. 17 – at Central Michigan
Defense: Statistically, the defense struggled throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense, but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Offense: Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets. The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key starters, but it'll be fine.


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