2008 CFN Eastern Michigan Preview
Eastern Michigan LB Daniel Holtzclaw
Eastern Michigan LB Daniel Holtzclaw
Posted Apr 23, 2008

Eastern Michigan has been competitive over the last few years, but it hasn't been able to turn the corner and become any kind of a player in MAC play. Led by potential MAC Defensive Player of the Year, LB Daniel Holtzclaw, the Eagles are promising. Check out the CFN EMU preview.

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2008 EMU Offense
- 2008 EMU Defense | 2008 EMU Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN EMU Preview | 2006 CFN EMU Preview 

Eastern Michigan has been on the slow and steady path to mediocrity over the last few years, and while head coach Jeff Genyk has things in the right spot, this could be his last shot at making it happen.

Head coach: Jeff Genyk
5th season: 13-33
Returning Lettermen: 46
Lettermen Lost: 11
Ten Best EMU Players
1. LB Daniel Holtzclaw, Sr.
2. QB Andy Schmitt, Jr.
3. DT Josh Hunt, Sr.
4. RB Terrence Blevins, Sr.
5. P Zach Johnson, So.
6. OG Andy Fretz, Jr.
7. WR DeAnthony White, Jr.
8. QB Kyle McMahon, So.
9. FS Ryan Downard, So.
10. SS Jacob Wyatt, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 4-8
2007 Season: 0-0

Aug. 28 Indiana State
Sept. 6 at Michigan State
Sept. 13 Toledo
Sept. 20 at Maryland
Sept. 27 Northern Illinois
Oct. 4 at Bowling Green
Oct. 11 at Army
Oct. 18 Akron
Oct. 25 at Ball State
Nov. 1 at Western Michigan
Nov. 22 at Temple
Nov. 28 Central Michigan

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

It's not like the team hasn't been competitive, and it did make strides last year even beating eventual MAC champion Central Michigan in a 48-45 thriller. With 46 lettermen and 16 starters returning, the experience has to start translating into victories.

The Eagles have lost 12 games by eight points or fewer over the past three years and have the makeup to start winning all the close ones. With the potential for consistency on offense for the first time in years, thanks to the expected emergence of QB Andy Schmitt as a big-time producer along with a slew of good receivers to count on, there should b more firepower.

The defense might not be a rock, but it has LB Daniel Holtzclaw, a tremendous playmaker who'll be on the short list of MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors, and it has good promise in the secondary.

No, EMU isn't going to make a big leap up and become the conference champion, and it'll have to battle and claw for wins against everyone in the improved MAC, but this isn't a pushover of a team. It's just going to take a few big breaks to get the program's first winning season since 1995.
What to watch for on offense: More from the passing game. A lot more. The running game, primarily because of the mobility of the quarterbacks, dominated throughout last year, but with a good looking receiving corps, led by DeAnthony White an Tyler ones, and the improvement of Schmitt as a passer, the offense won't be one dimensional.

What to watch for on defense: Problems in the front seven. Hotlzclaw is a given and tackle John Hunt is fantastic, but the ends are a question mark and the linebackers around the main man in the middle aren't anything special. The D will have to manufacture pressure and big plays from several unlikely sources.

The team will be far better if … it can generate pressure into the backfield. Mainly due to former all-star tackle Jason Jones, the defensive front was able to come up with tackles for loss on a regular basis. However, there wasn't nearly enough of a pop on the passers. The secondary managed to make due and turned in a decent year, but opposing quarterbacks can't get as comfortable as they were last season.

The Schedule:
The non-conference games at Michigan State and Maryland will be too tall an order for the Eagles, but Indiana State and at Army are manageable. Playing five road games in six after September would be tough for anyone, but there's a little bit of a break getting two weeks off between the trip to Western Michigan and the date at Temple. Going to Bowling Green, Ball State and WMU means EMU has to pull off home upsets against Toledo and Central Michigan to have any real dreams of a winning season.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Andy Schmitt. He turned into a more dangerous runner, scoring five touchdowns in the final two games, as the season went on, and he trimmed down his big mistakes throwing just three interceptions outside of the three-pick day against Vanderbilt. Now he has to make more big plays through the air. He has the talent to do it, he threw four touchdown passes in a brilliant 20 of 28 day against Ohio, and now he has to do it on a regular basis.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Daniel Holtzclaw. The team's signature player with 330 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and seven career interceptions, he's not all that fast or athletic, but he's always around the ball and he's a rock against the run. He's the player to work the entire defense around; everything funnels through him.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Spenser Smith. The veteran end needs to quickly become more of a pass rushing threat after failing to get into the backfield on a regular basis. There's hope for several young, untested prospects to become pass rushing specialists, but it needs to be Smith who turns into the consistent threat.

The season will be a success if ... EMU wins six games. That might be asking for the world considering the improvement in the MAC and the holes on defense, but it's now or never for a team that's been competitive over the last few years, but hasn't been able to get over the top. Even so, anything fewer than six wins will be a major disappointment for a team this experienced.

Key game: Sept. 13 vs. Toledo. The Rockets are good enough to win the MAC title, and explosive enough to make embarrass teams that struggle defensively. If the Eagles can pull off the upset in their MAC home opener, it would set the tone for the year and send a message that they're far different and far more confident.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Fumbles: Opponents 29 (for 12) – Eastern Michigan 10 (lost 4)
- Average yards per play: Opponents 6.1 – Eastern Michigan 4.9
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 8 of 11 (73%) – Eastern Michigan 12 of 27 (44%)