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2010 Eastern Michigan Preview - Offense
Eastern Michigan WR Corey Welch
Eastern Michigan WR Corey Welch
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 6, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Eastern Michigan Eagle Offense



Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2010 Eastern Michigan Offense
- 2010 Eastern Michigan Defense | 2010 Eastern Michigan Depth Chart
- Eastern Michigan Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006


What You Need To Know: The offense went south in a hurry last year once there were quarterback issues and injury problems. Now the goal is to develop running quarterback Alex Gillett into a better passer, and/or hope that big bomber Devontae Payne can actually play. The running backs should be a major positive if they can get any room to move, but that’s not a given behind a line that might need a while before it jells. The receiving corps desperately needs to unearth a go-to target early on, but there’s good talent to develop.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Alex Gillett
68-137, 763, 3 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Dwayne Priest
175 carries, 633 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Ben Thayer
29 catches, 261 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Alex Gillett
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore OT Korey Neal
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Ben Axon
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Bridger Buche
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Buche, 2) RB Dwayne Priest, 3) TE Ben Thayer
Strength of the offense: Young Potential, Running Options
Weakness of the offense: Developed Depth, Passing

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: A very smart, very promising recruit last year, Alex Gillett stepped in late in the season and took over the starting job. The sophomore isn’t all that big at 6-1 and 203 pounds, but he’s a great runner, finishing second on the team with 484 yards and two scores. His passing touch needs work after only completing 49.6% of his throws for 763 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions, but he’s a smart, athletic playmaker who can be the type of baller the offense works around for the next few years.

Projected Top Reserves While Gillett is the runner, redshirt freshman Devontae Payne is the passer. A strong recruit for the program last year, he was kept under wraps and now will get a long look as a possible option when the team needs more air production. He’s 6-6 and 231 pounds with a live arm and just enough mobility to get by.

Watch Out For … more Payne than the coaching staff might like. The offense will need a jump-start from time to time and it’ll need a bomber to try to come back when the defense isn’t producing. Payne is better suited for the task than Gillett.
Strength: Youth. Eastern Michigan isn’t close to winning the MAC title, but it has two promising players to work around for the next few seasons. They’ll get time to develop.
Weakness: Passing production. Gillett wasn’t awful, but he threw too many interceptions and was better at running the ball in his three starts with two 100-yard running games.
Outlook: Last year, EMU was supposed to have a major strength with Andy Schmitt and Kyle McMahon, but their problems allowed Gillett to get his feet wet in a dead year. Gillett is a dangerous rushing weapon who’ll have to be accounted for on every play, while Payne is a promising passer to develop. Expect to see both of them throughout the year.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: It’s not like senior Dwayne Priest has had a lot of room to move. A long-time starter and one of the team’s few offensive weapons (at times), he led the way with 633 yards and seven touchdowns last season while catching none passes for 84 yards. The 5-8, 192-pounder is quick, but he hasn’t had too much luck and hasn’t been able to show what he can do behind a line that hasn’t quite opened up the holes needed. He has the talent to shine if given the chance. 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.

Projected Top Reserves At 6-1 and 202 pounds, redshirt freshman Ben Axon provides a little more pop than Priest. Considered a promising recruit out of Florida, he was being looked at by places like Florida State, Clemson, and West Virginia and signed with South Carolina but was denied admission after he was arrested on drug charges. The potential is there to be fantastic with slippery moves and great balance, but he’s tall, isn’t a speedster and isn’t going to barrel over anyone.

Watch Out For … Axon. While he’s hardly considered a finished product, he was athletic enough and promising enough to get several big schools fired up. EMU might have found a gem if he can grow into a patient runner and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Strength: A nice mix of talents. Priest is the veteran who has done a little bit of everything, Corey Welch, a receiver now, is a speedster who could move back to running back, and Axon, Dominque Sherrer, and Joe Fleming bring some promise.
Weakness: Room to move. A back is only as good as the line in front of him, and with no passing game to help the cause and a line that has struggled to get any sort of a push. These backs might have talent, but the have to do a lot of things on their own.
Outlook: The Eagle running game is helped by the mobility of QB Alex Gillett, and he might be the most used option. With no passing attack, though, it might be tough for Priest, Axon, and Welch to show what they can do. If there’s a real, live, commitment to the running game, the backs are there to produce.
Unit Rating: 5

Receivers

Projected Starters: Can the coaching staff to find a way to use Corey Welch as a receiver? He ran for 154 yards and two scores last year in a limited role, and he also returned kickoffs. He’s the home-run hitter in the equation and could be deadly in space. While he might see time at running back, he’s more needed at the X taking over for Jacory Stone, last year’s leading receiver.

5-11, 195-pound sophomore Corey Manns saw a little bit of time in five games and made two catches for 17 yards, and now he’ll work at the H spot. He’s a quick target who should be decent when he gets the ball on the move, but he has to make the most of his chance and he has to produce early on to keep a top spot in the rotation.

Sophomore Nick Olds was looked at by Indiana and Purdue, but he ended up at EMU and has the potential to be a nice go-to target. At 6-2 and 192 pounds he’s one of the team’s bigger receivers, and he made a little bit of a splash as a true freshman catching 11 passes for 129 yards. While he’s not going to blow past anyone, he’s a good possession prospect who should find the holes and keep the chains moving.

The team’s best receiving option will likely be tight end Ben Thayer, a 6-4, 240-pound senior who was expected to be used just as a blocker going into last season but ended up finishing second on the team with 29 catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Very smart with nice hands and good route-running ability, he’ll be the safety valve early on until more of a rapport is developed with the starting quarterback and the wideouts.

Projected Top Reserves True sophomore Kinsmon Thomas was a terrific get for the program. The 6-2, 197-pounder is one of the team’s more physical receiving prospects working on the Z along with Nick Olds. He finished fifth on the team with 15 catches for 275 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns, and he has the upside to be more than just a spot starter. He still needs a little bit of work on his concentration, but the basics are there to be fantastic if he gets some good quarterback play his way.

Originally considered a running back, 6-2, 233 pound sophomore Garrett Hoskins has decent quickness and nice hands, and he can be used in a variety of ways. He got two starting nods last year in the middle of the season and finished with six catches for 48 yards, and he can block a little, too.

Mostly a special teamer so far, junior Trey Hunter also got involved more with the offense catching 12 passes for 82 yards and a score in a spot-starting role. He’s one of the team’s faster players with the deep speed to be used on the outside X, but he’ll spend most of his season using his 6-2, 200-pound size on the inside H.

Watch Out For … Thomas. While he might not explode and be the team’s leading receiver, he has the talent to be the best of the bunch with a little more time. The coaching staff will find a spot for him somewhere.
Strength: Young talent. Ron English and his staff did their homework and came up with some gems in the rough in last year’s class, and the foundation is there with Olds, Thomas, and Hoskins to bulk up a corps that needs more firepower.
Weakness: The offense. The attack that was so explosive in 2008 fizzled with the new coaching staff in 2009. Having Alex Gillett at quarterback isn’t going to bring the big numbers, so it’ll be vital for the receivers to keep their heads in the game and keep their concentration.
Outlook: There’s good potential in a group that will be underutilized. If Deontae Payne is under center, the receivers could put up nice numbers. If it’s Alex Gillett at quarterback, the receivers will be accessories. This is a young group that should shine next year when all the top wideouts are back, but for now, everyone will have to take advantage of the chances they get.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: One of the big keys to the line is going to be the return of Bridger Buche, a key blocker in 2008 who missed all of last year with a hip injury. The 6-4, 312 pound junior was a strong starter at right tackle and was going to move over to the left tackle to take over for T.J. Lang before the injury. Now, the former defensive lineman, and a one-time top recruit, should grow into an all-star.

With the return of Buche, senior Dan DeMaster will move over the right side after starting every game at left tackle. The team’s most versatile linemen, he worked at right guard for three games in the middle of 2008 and has been a key backup at several spots. At 6-5 and 304 pounds, he has beefed up over the last few years and should be solid in pass protection back at right guard.

Returning to his starting spot in the middle is Eric Davis, who has been the main man at center for the last three years and has grown into his 6-2 frame to get up to 300 pounds. The former high school wrestling star is a mauler who should be doing more for the running game.

6-5, 266-pound sophomore Andrew Sorgatz was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman and did a decent job at left guard. While he’s undersized, he’s a good athlete and is a tough blocker who’ll grow into the job over the next three seasons.

Sophomore Korey Neal is a strong, athletic guard who as 6-2, 294-pound size and decent potential. If he struggles, Dan DeMaster will move outside, but the plan is to sink or swim. He’s a smart player who should pick things up quickly once he gets more reps with the ones.

Projected Top Reserves It’ll be interesting to see what the team does with true freshman Doniel Gambrell, a 6-5, 249-pound tight end who needs a ton of work in the weight room, and could end up redshirting, but is as athletic and quick on his feet as any of the team’s linemen. He’ll start out working at right tackle, but with his quickness he’ll eventually move to the left side before his career is over.

At 6-8 and 287 pounds, redshirt freshman Scott MacLeod is a very big, very versatile option who could play center, even at his height, but is best suited for tackle. He’s a long blocker who’ll be tough to get around, but he’ll be better after a few years in the weight room.

Corey Watman will get a little bit of a look as a blocking fullback, but he’ll mostly be used as a backup center. At 6-2 and 290 pounds the sophomore has decent size and has seen a little bit of time, but he’s needed to push for time somewhere inside.

Watch Out For … the return of Buche. It’s not like he was a superstar before he injured his hip, but he’s a good, sound blocker who was missed last year and will make a difference early on this season.
Strength: Size. This is a decent-sized group that has some athletic players who need to fill out their frames to go along with the wide-bodies. Overall, if the offense wants to start pounding the ball, it should be able to.
Weakness: Proven production. There’s no reliable depth whatsoever, the pass protection was mediocre and the ground game didn’t get working until running quarterback Alex Gillett took over the reins. This group has to prove it can do something well.
Outlook: The line wasn’t very good last season, but it was hardly the team’s weak spot. There are a few decent talents to work around and some young prospects who appear ready to shine, but finding reliable backups for a regular rotation would be nice and finding one player who can become an anchor would be a huge help.
Unit Rating: 4.5

- 2010 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2010 Eastern Michigan Offense
- 2010 Eastern Michigan Defense | 2010 Eastern Michigan Depth Chart
- Eastern Michigan Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006