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2008 Eastern Michigan Preview - Offense
Eastern Michigan QB Andy Schmitt
Eastern Michigan QB Andy Schmitt
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 23, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Eastern Michigan Eagle Offense


Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 2008 - Offense

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

What you need to know: The offense made big improvements last season in all areas after a rough 2006, and now the potential is there for a big year with seven returning starters and plenty of depth all the way around. The offense begins and ends with the quarterback production. Allegedly there's a quarterback battle, but Andy Schmitt is the veteran who makes the attack go with his feet and an improving arm. The offensive line doesn't have any stars, but it's not that bad and it's full of big, experienced players who'll be looking to be more physical. The big question marks are at running back and receiver. There's experience at receiver, but no one stands out. Five backs will be working to get the running game going with big, fast Terrence Blevins looking to have a breakout senior season.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andy Schmitt
164-255, 1,613 yds, 14 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Andy Schmitt
67 carries, 279 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Jacory Stone
47 catches, 462 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Andy Schmitt
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior OG Joe Charles
Unsung star on the rise: Senior RB Terrence Blevins
Best pro prospect: Senior OT T.J. Lang
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Schmitt, 2) OG Andy Fretz, 3) Blevins
Strength of the offense: Quarterbacks, overall experience
Weakness of the offense:
Proven number one receiver, proven running backs

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Junior Andy Schmitt at times can be one of the MAC's best all-around quarterbacks and can carry the offense all by himself, but he has to stay healthy. At 6-4 and 238 pounds, he's a big force when he gets on the move running for 279 yards and six touchdowns with five of them coming in the final two games against Bowling Green and Central Michigan. Without much of a receiving corps to work with he threw for just 1,613 yards and 14 touchdowns, but he completed 64% of his passes and only tossed six interceptions. Three of those picks came in one game, the loss to Vanderbilt, and he only threw one interception over the final six games. The big key is his health, most specifically a shoulder problem that required surgery two years ago and was an issue last year.
 
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Kyle McMahon is being given every shot to win the starting job, but that might be just talk. Andy Schmitt is the main man, but considering his history of getting hurt, McMahon has to be at the ready and will certainly get a shot if the offense isn't moving. The 6-3, 208 pounder can move with 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns in seven games of action, and he showed against Northwestern that he can throw bombing for 282 yards. However, interceptions are an issue throwing nine, including three against the Wildcats, with only three touchdown passes.


Redshirt freshman Jason Williams will be the No. 3 man, which could quickly turn into the starter job with the way Schmitt and McMahon take shots. The promising 6-3, 191-pound prospect is a good runner with a big upside.

Watch Out For ... no real quarterback controversy. The coaching staff might be giving McMahon every chance to win the starting job, but as long as Schmitt is healthy, and as long as the game isn't a blowout, there's no real doubt who the top guy is.
Strength: Running and size. The four quarterbacks are huge averaging around 6-3 and 220 pounds per man. All four can move and all four can be the main man for the running game.  
Weakness
:
Passing efficiency. It's not necessarily the fault of the quarterbacks considering EMU doesn't have a refined passing attack that pushes the ball deep, but the offense has to be better on third downs and it has to start pushing the ball deep a little more.
Outlook: This will be one of the team's strengths as long as everyone is healthy. Schmitt is a big, mobile veteran who can be one of the MAC's best weapons when he's not having shoulder problems. McMahon has to be a more consistent passer, but he's a good runner who could be a major part again if Schmitt isn't doing the job. Williams fits the EMU type of big, mobile quarterbacks.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starter: Senior Terrence Blevins will get the first look at the starting job, but he'll have to battle to keep it. At 6-1 and 226 pounds, he's a big back with lineman strength and 4.5 speed, and now he has to put it all together to be a factor after rushing for just 84 yards on 19 carries. The team's biggest back, he has to bring more power to the ground game.


Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Dwayne Priest played in every game but one last season rushing for 180 yards on 3.2 yards per carry. A top recruit, he was known more for being the Virginia state high school defensive player of the year as a safety, but he also ran for 1,548 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. He's tremendously quick and could be used more as a receiver after catching nine passes for 108 yards and a score.

Former receiver Corey Welch will be in the hunt for the starting job all season long. The redshirt freshman is 5-9 and 182 pounds with tremendous speed. He could be a home run hitter who's used in a variety of way.

5-8, 167 pound sophomore Jayson Jones is a pure scatback who'll combine with sophomore Maurice Goodrum as two top backup options. Goodrum ran for 69 yards on 16 carries as a true freshman but suffered a knee injury. He has the talent to become a starter at some point, but he has to get healthy and was behind the eight ball after missing spring ball.


Watch Out For ... Blevins. EMU always seems to get production out of running backs when the light turns on late in their careers. Pierre Walker, last year's leading rusher, didn't kick it in until late in the year. Blevins appears to have taken over the leadership role and he's the one big back in the rotation.
Strength: Quickness. Blevins is a speed back with 4.5 wheels, while the rest of the backfield is loaded with smallish, quick backs who can take off for big dashes at any time. They can all be used as receivers and they can all make plays when they get into space.
Weakness
:
Proven production. Out of last year's 1,878 rushing yards, 838 came from Pierre Walker, 279 from QB Andy Schmitt and 135 from QB Kyle McMahon. 18 of the 20 touchdowns are also gone.
Outlook: Helped by the quarterbacks, the EMU running game was decent last year averaging 156.5 yards per game. Blevins is an interesting prospect, but he hasn't done it yet and has to prove he can handle the workload as a senior. There are four quick backs ready to form a good rotation behind the 226-pound Blevins. Priest, Welch, Jones and Goodrum could all see plenty of work.
Rating: 4
.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: 6-1, 190-pound junior Jacory Stone took over lead receiver making 47 catches for 462 yards and three touchdowns. He's a physical target with the straight line speed to get deep on a regular basis, but it didn't happen last year averaging just 9.8 yards per catch. While most of his production came in a two-game stretch against Ohio and Northwester, catching 17 passes for 147 yard and two touchdowns, he was a relatively steady player. Now he has to do more on the outside X.

Stone might have been the leading receiver, but 5-8, 170-pound junior DeAnthony White was the breakout star with 33 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns. While the stats might not be impressive, he showed great flash and was a dangerous runner from time to time out of the backfield averaging 7.9 yards per carry with a 68-yard score against Northern Illinois. Technically the backup behind Tyler Jones at the H, White will start sooner than later.

Sophomore Tyrone Burke will start on the inside Z position after catching ten passes for 184 yards and two scores closing out with a four-grab day at Central Michigan. He's a smart receiver who's a physical 5-10 and 194 pounds. He should be able to handle himself well on the inside.

Losing tight end Ken Bohnet hurts, and it's up to 6-3, 230-pound sophomore Josh LDuc to be a steady safety valve. He didn't see much time last season and didn't make any catches, but he has decent enough hands to make 15 to 20 grabs. He might be the key to the short passing game early on.

Projected Top Reserves:
Former quarterback Tyler Jones is back at the H after finishing fourth on the team with 29 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns. He'll have to battle for playing time with the emergence of DeAnthony White, but the senior is bigger, at 6-2 and 218 pounds, athletic, and has the experience to know exactly what he's doing.

Finding a spot somewhere in the rotation will be 5-10, 184-pound junior Dontayo Gage, a former quarterback who was supposed to be the team's most dangerous receiver but only made 11 catches for 104 yards. A quick 5-10 and 184 pounds, his real worth is as a kickoff returner averaging 23.1 yards per try.

Redshirt freshman Trey Hunter has all the talent to become a major gamebreaker. Potentially a top punt returner, he'll start out behind Tyrone Burke at the Z providing more size and even more of a flash. He'll get plenty of chances to shine right away.

Pushing for the starting tight end job is 6-3, 260-pound JUCO transfer Kyle Pollock who's coming off a decent 14-catch, 189 yard season for Allan Hancock JC in California. While he can become a receiver, his main role will be as a blocker.


Watch Out For ... more competition for the starting jobs. There just weren't enough big things happening in the passing game last season and now anyone who shows a flash of potential home-run hitting ability will get a shot to earn a spot.
Strength
:
Experience. The steady-but-unspectacular Travis Lewis is gone, but three of the top four receivers are back along with a host of veteran backups ready to provide options at every spot.
Weakness
:
Playmakers. White showed flashes and there were a few big plays here and there, but there's no one in the corps who'll keep defensive coordinators up at night. Stone is a serviceable veteran, but he's not the true number one who can carry a passing game.
Outlook: The passing game should be better on experience alone, but the talent level isn't anything special. Veterans like Stone, White and Burke have to go from decent to great, while someone has to start coming up with more deep plays to open things up for the running game.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The offensive line could turn out to be the strength of the offense, and the strength of the line is on the left side where senior T.J. Lang and junior Andy Fretz return after starting every game last season. The 6-2, 285-pound Fretz is a former defensive lineman who has grown into the job over the last few seasons. Physical for the running game, he should dominate now that he knows what he's doing. Lang is also a former defensive lineman and has been a fixture at tackle over the last few years. He bulked up big-time to get to 307 pounds on a 6-3 frame, and while his strength has been as a pass protector, now he'll start to run over more defenders.

Sophomore Eric Davis took over in the middle last year and started the last six games. The 6-2, 279-pound center has hit the weights hard over the last year and should be better able to handle the full-time role. The former star high school wrestler is a mauler who needs to dominate in the running game.

The one big loss on the line is Khalid Walton at right guard. 6-4, 280-pound junior Stephen Johnson is a veteran backup who'll push for time at right tackle, but will start out at guard. He started the final four games of last year and helped spark the surge in the EMU running game. Like almost all Eagle offensive lineman, Johnson started out on the defensive line.

Looking to solidify the right tackle spot is 6-3, 284-pound sophomore Bridger Buche after playing in six games and seeing time at tight end. We was a top recruit for EMU as a pass rushing defensive lineman, but his athleticism and strength will now be used on the offensive side for the next three years. Once he figures out what he's doing, he has the talent and potential to be an All-MAC performer.

Projected Top Reserves: There will be a spot somewhere for 6-5, 287-pound sophomore Dan DeMaster, the team's most versatile lineman. The 6-5, 287 pounder started eight games at right tackle and will move inside to guard where he'll combine with Joe Charles on the right side. He'll likely see a little bit of time at both tackle and guard spots.

6-0, 304-pound senior Joe Charles saw time in almost every game as a backup and now needs to be steady from the start. The former defensive lineman is a bowling ball of a blocker and has no problem getting good leverage with his short, squatty body type.

T.J. Lang is firmly entrenched at left tackle, but senior Chris Larkins is able to step in and start if needed. While he's not all that big at 6-2 and 273 pounds, the former tight end can move and can be productive as a pass protector. Most importantly, he's a veteran reserve having played in every game last year.

Watch Out For ... better production for the running game. Last year the goal was just to do something right. Now the hope is to be more physical overall and start blowing lines off the ball.
Strength: Depth. EMU has had experience up front for the past few years, but this season there's far more potential and far more options. This could be the best line yet in the Jeff Genyk era.
Weakness
:
The loss of Khalid Walton. Joe Charles and Dan DeMaster should be a serviceable replacements, but Walton was the big side of beef who got the ground game rumbling on the right side. He's the one key missing ingredient.
Outlook: The O line made a big step forward last season after an abysmal 2006, and now the pieces are there to take yet another step forward. The ground game got going late in the year and the pass protection was solid throughout, helped in both areas by having mobile quarterbacks. While there might not be any all-stars, it's a good, sound line all across the front with some decent backups waiting to step in if needed.
Rating: 5