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2009 Eastern Michigan Preview - Offense
Eastern Michigan WR Jacory Stone
Eastern Michigan WR Jacory Stone
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 9, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Eastern Michigan Eagle Offense

Eastern Michigan Eagles
Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2009 EMU Offense
- 2009 EMU Defense | 2009 EMU Depth Chart
- 2008 EMU Preview | 2007 EMU Preview | 2006 EMU Preview 


What you need to know: While the offense was inconsistent, it put up big numbers overall before exploding with record-setting passing days over the final few weeks. New offensive coordinator Ken Karcher isn't going to try to change things up too much, but he'll try to add more power running to the mix and try to get less running from the quarterbacks. This was a veteran offense going into last year, and now it's really experienced with seven starters coming back including Andy Schmitt, who's about to take a turn and become one of the MAC's best quarterbacks. He has a deep, quick receiving corps to work with and three good backs to help carry the load. The line that struggled at times last year has been a major plus throughout the offseason. The starting five is a rock and should be better and better as the year goes on.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andy Schmitt
261-417, 2,644 yds, 15 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Terrence Blevins
133 carries, 575 yds, 12 TD
Receiving: Jacory Stone
88 catches, 943 yds, 3 TD


Star of the offense:
Senior QB Andy Schmitt
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Tyrone Burke
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Bridger Buche
Best pro prospect: Buche
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Schmitt, 2) WR Jacory Stone, 3) TE Josh LeDuc
Strength of the offense: Quarterbacks, Overall experience
Weakness of the offense:
Consistency, Backup Linemen

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Senior Andy Schmitt had shown sparks throughout his career of potentially being a special player, with some great running games and a few hot stretches as a passer, but he never put it all together like he did over the final five games of last year. Against Temple, he threw 76 times for 484 yards and three touchdowns in the 55-52 loss, and he followed it up with a 80-attempt, 516-yard, five touchdown game in the win over Central Michigan to close the year out. He has 6-4, 238-pound size, the running ability to gain 171 yards and five touchdowns, even though he could be used more as a runner, and he completed 63% of his passes for 2,644 yards and 15 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The big key will be staying healthy. He was dinged up at times last year and he struggled through 2007 with a shoulder injury.
 
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Kyle McMahon has seen starting time and was given every shot in the past to win the No. 1 spot, but he struggled in the two starts he got last year and ended up suffering a shoulder injury that kept him out of spring ball this year. While he's not the passer that Schmitt is, the 6-3, 208-pounder has a good arm and tremendous rushing skills with 138 yards in his limited action while completing 62% of his throws for 574 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.  

Watch Out For ... Schmitt to be one of the MAC's best quarterbacks and the No. 1 the entire season. There's no quarterback shuffling this year unless injuries strike. If Schmitt is healthy, he's the starter.
Strength: Schmitt's upside. He was always good, but where did that come from? He started bombing away at the end of last year and showed he can hang around in a firefight with anyone. McMahon is a nice relief pitcher who'll be a strong No. 2 once he's healthy.  
Weakness
:
Health history. McMahon is already trying to get back healthy while Schmitt takes big shots. These two are the keys to the season, and if it's mobile option Jason Williams out there, the season will be in trouble.
Outlook: Schmitt appears ready to be talked about like Dan LeFevour and, last year, Nate Davis, as a good pro prospect. He needs to be consistent and he needs to lead the way to wins. As long as he's healthy, EMU has a shot to hang around with anyone in the MAC.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter: While junior Dwayne Priest might not be the full-time starter, and he'll be a part of the rotation, he should the team's best rushing option. The coaching staff kept him under wraps late in spring ball after working him hard this offseason, and now he has to show if he can live up to his prep hype. A top recruit, he was known more for being the Virginia state high school defensive player of the year as a safety, to go along with his 20 rushing touchdowns as a senior. He has been decent so far, rushing for 474 yards and five touchdown last season, but his workload was limited over the second half of last year and he ended up being used as much as a receiver, catching 14 passes for 125 yards and a score, as he was as a runner.


Projected Top Reserves: Senior Terrence Blevins was the starter in the first part of last year and ended up leading the team with 575 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, but he'll likely end up being the No. 3 back in the mix. With a freakish mix of skills with 6-1, 226-pound size, 4.5 speed, and lineman strength, he has the tools to be a workhorse. to start, he'll be a short-yardage hammer and a between-the-tackles power runner.

The starter coming out of spring ball was sophomore Corey Welch, a 5-9, 182-pound speedster who brings home-run hitting speed to the equation. The team's top kickoff returner, averaging 21.6 yards per try, he wasn't used much for the offense with just 154 yards and two catches for three years. Even so, he's a dangerous option who'll be used in a variety of ways. 

Watch Out For ... the running backs to do more. The EMU quarterbacks have been among the team's most effective runners over the last few years, with Andy Schmitt finishing third on the team last year and with Kyle McMahon, in his limited time, finishing sixth. Now the quarterbacks will try to stay healthy and won't be taking as many big shots, mainly because they don't have to. The running backs are in place to produce.
Strength: Quickness. All three backs can move. Blevins has good straight-line speed while Welch and Priest can each cut on a dime. Give them a little bit of a hole and they can crank out yards in chunks.
Weakness
:
A workhorse. Blevins is the closest thing the team has to a workhorse back, and while running by committee isn't a bad thing, the team could use one back who can carry the load when needed.
Outlook: Helped by the quarterbacks, the EMU running game is always decent. Now the backs will shoulder more of the load with the three veterans likely to work in a steady and equal rotation. The coaching staff will go with the hot hand, so there might be stretches when one breaks out, only to have someone else step in right after.
Rating: 5.5


Receivers

Projected Starters: Senior Jacory Stone became the team's No. 1 target a few years ago, and then he blew up last season finishing with a team-leading 88 catches fro 943 yards and three touchdowns highlighted by an 18-catch, 152-yard, one score day against Temple. He followed it up with ten grabs for 96 yards against Central Michigan. At 6-1 and 201 pounds he's a good-sized, physical target with nice straight-line speed working at the outside X position.

Working at the Z will be 6-0, 197-pound junior Tyrone Burke after seeing spot duty last year catching four passes for 31 yards. He's a smart, tough receiver who isn't afraid to go inside, but he'll have to battle to keep a starting job. He was supposed to be the main man last year but was quickly pushed to backup duty.

5-9, 160-pound sophomore Marvon Sanders will try to take over for Tyler Jones at the H after finishing fourth on the team with 28 catches for 253 yards and a score. Jones came up with 40 catches over the final two games alone. Sanders started in five games last year including the final three at the Z and became a steady target over the second half of the season.

While he won't be the team's leading receiving tight end, junior Ben Thayer is the starter coming out of spring ball and will mostly be used as a blocker. At 6-4 and 230 pounds he has good size and decent athleticism, and while he's physical, he'll have to make plays for the passing game to be a bigger part of the attack.


Projected Top Reserves:
Senior DeAnthony White was a breakout star a few years ago showing great flash and impressive running ability, but he only played in eight games last year, starting twice, finishing with 15 catches for 156 yards and a score. Only 5-8 and 170 pounds, he's a small-quick target working in the rotation with Sanders at the H.

While he's not listed as the starting tight end, 6-3, 230-pound junior Josh LeDuc will be one of the team's top targets. He was third on the team with 32 catches for 446 yards and four touchdowns, averaging an impressive 13.9 yards per catch. With field-stretching speed and reliable, consistent hands, he'll make three or more grabs per game.

Long-time factor Dontayo Gage started off his career as a quarterback and was supposed to be the team's most dangerous receiver after switching positions, but he has been a key backup, while getting four starts, finishing with 22 catches for 311 yards and a score while also serving as one of the team's main kickoff returners. Very quick and potentially explosive at the X, the 5-10, 184-pound senior should play a bigger role. 


Watch Out For ... more production. The end of last year might have been just the beginning, and while there might not be 80 passes a game, there will be a ton of passing compared to the past and the receivers are all experienced enough and good enough to come through.
Strength
:
Experience. This was a veteran group last year now it's a crusty, experienced corps that should shine. While Tyler Jones is gone, he only really started to kick in over the last few games and can be replaced. Five of the top six receivers are back and there are plenty of decent options to rotate around at each position.
Weakness
:
Consistency. The second half of last year might not have been a mirage, but the numbers might be a bit overinflated. The production has to be steadier throughout the season and the big-time production has to start coming against the better secondaries.
Outlook: The receiving corps is full of productive veterans who should blow up with a quarterback like Andy Schmitt winging it around. Stone is a No. 1 target to build around, LeDuc is one of the MAC's top receiving tight ends, and there are several targets who can become the main man from time to time. This is a loaded corps that should become among the best in the league.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The only big loss on a line that wasn't bad last year is at left tackle where T.J. Lang is off trying to jump-start a pro career. Junior Bridger Buche started every game last year at right tackle and will move over to the left side to try to keep the quarterbacks' blindside clean. He's 6-3 and 294 pounds with good athleticism and strength. The former defensive lineman was a top recruit for the program, and now he should grow into an all-star.

With Buche moving sides, Dan DeMaster will step into the opening at right tackle where he started eight times in 2007. The team's most versatile lineman, he worked at right guard for three games in the middle of last season and was a key backup tackle, too. At 6-5 and 290 pounds, the junior has good size to go along with his experience.

The anchor up front is center Eric Davis, a 6-2, 290-pound senior who has started 18 games in a row. He hit the weights hard over the last few years and has bulked up enough to become a solid run blocker. The former high school wrestling star is a mauler who has grown into a good leader.

6-2, 290-pound senior Andy Fretz has started every game over the last two years at left guard. The former defensive lineman is a pounding blocker who has worked to become better in pass protection. He's physical and will be the one the ground game works behind for the hard yards.

Senior Stephen Johnson missed three games at right guard, but he started the first three games and the last six with the athleticism to work at right tackle if needed. Like almost all the Eagle O lineman, he came to school as a defensive lineman and has worked his way into becoming a strong blocker for the offensive front.

Projected Top Reserves: Working somewhere in the middle of the line will be Derek Gotham, a center who could move over and play guard from time to time. At 6-4 and 290 pounds, the sophomore has good size for the interior and he can move a little bit. He'll have to be developed for the near future to provide some interior depth.

6-4, 290-pound redshirt freshman Mark VanDenburgh is a thumper at guard working behind Fretz on the left side. A likely starter next year, he has good size and he'll flatten defenders in the running game. Now he needs time to work.

Watch Out For ... Buche on the left side. He might not be Lang, but he's good enough to shine at left tackle and be a fringe all-star. He has a nice combination of skills and is growing as a blocker.
Strength: Experience. The Eagles lucked out and got four starting linemen to start the entire season, and the fifth, Johnson, missed just three games. The starting five should be a rock week in and week out.
Weakness
:
Depth. There isn't any. With DeMaster moving into a starting role, the Eagles don't have any backups with any experience. It'll be a priority to get a rotation going to get the backups some time so they're not coming in cold when needed.
Outlook: The line has steadily improved over the last three years, and now it should be the best EMU line in several years. There might not be any sure-thing all-stars, but there are five good, sound blockers who don't get hurt and who all know what they're doing. Developing depth will be a must, but the starting unit should be fantastic.
Rating: 5