Eastern Michigan Eagles
Preview 2009 -
2009 EMU Offense
2009 EMU Defense
2009 EMU Depth
2008 EMU Preview
2007 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.
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
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:
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.
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.