2019 Eastern Michigan Eagles Team Preview

Chris Creighton was an out of the box hire when he came to Ypsilanti in 2014, a coach with success at the NAIA, DIII, and FCS levels, he was just about the best that Eastern Michigan could get after being one of the sorriest programs in the country, winning more than two games just once in the past five seasons and more than four just once in 20, with zero winning records in that span.

After keeping to EMU standards and going 3-21 in his first two years, Creighton took the Eagles to their second bowl game in school history in 2016, and after a near thirty-year wait to get their second, it just took two years for the Eagles to get their third.

EMU was famous for close games last year, you probably tuned into the end of quite a few of their games in 2018 as their first six games of 2018 were all decided by one possession (they went 2-4 in those six).

A win over Purdue in non-conference play highlighted the 7-6 year, but not a ton is back from that squad (just nine starters), so it’ll be interesting to see if Creighton can keep the uptick alive.

Offense

Eastern Michigan’s offense was about average by MAC standards and incredibly inconsistent on the whole thanks to the up and down play at the quarterback spot.

JUCO transfer Mike Glass III earned some valuable playing time in 2018, and he should be well-equipped to take over the offense after the graduation of Tyler Wiegers. As a dual-threat QB, I like Glass’ ability to open lanes and keep the defense guessing, and I would argue that EMU was better with him than with Wiegers last year, although Glass was super hit-or-miss.

Pretty much everyone outside of last year’s #1 Blake Banham is back among pass-catchers. Speedy Arthur Jackson III is a name to watch (592 yards, 12.9 YPC, five touchdowns). Line Latu averaged 16.9 YPC last year and should be a solid deep threat for Glass to throw to.

The run game wasn’t good last year, the #1 running back Shaq Vann (590 yards, five touchdowns, 4.4 YPA) is back. Vann will have to run behind a very inexperienced offensive line that loses an all-conference level piece in G Jimmy Leatiota.

Glass was good last year and being a real #1 should do wonders for him. I expect this offense to improve.

Defense

The defense was excellent last year with guys like Maxx Crosby and Jeremiah Harris on the ends and Brody Hoying and Vince Calhoun in the secondary. Hoying and Calhoun will be back along with senior corner Kevin McGill, so the secondary should be great once again, but the front six goes under a massive overhaul, losing every single starter.

A pair of JUCO transfers come in at the ends between Grant Trueman and Jose Ramirez, and junior Turan Rush racked up three sacks as a backup last year. Another JUCO will try and plug one of the holes at LB in Brandon Burks, but I am really worried about this front six on the whole.

The secondary will be good, but if the JUCOs and backups in the front six don’t step up in a major way this defense is going to take a big step back.

2019 Outlook

Creighton has done a great job, there is no looking past that, but he runs into some issues here, the offensive line and the front six have massive holes with little to speak of in terms of potential replacements, not to mention depth.

Ten of their 11 FBS games are projected to be decided by single digits, so this season really is up in the air. I don’t think eight wins or a MAC title even is out of the question if the defense matures quickly.

The schedule isn’t too bad, they miss the top two in the East and get a crack at their third Big Ten win in as many years against Illinois, but if Glass can’t settle in behind a new offensive line and teams can run with ease against the front six they could miss a bowl.

There is enough talent and Creighton is a good enough coach that I’ll call for a bowl, but I think it’s far from a lock.

Schedule

DateOpponentOPP. RANKProj. Margin
31-Augat Coastal Carolina1286.5
7-Sepat Kentucky36-14.6
14-Sepat Illinois81-8.5
21-SepCentral ConnecticutNRN/A
5-OCTAT CENTRAL MICHIGAN1223.4
12-OCTBALL STATE1136.6
19-OCTWESTERN MICHIGAN86-1.4
26-OCTAT TOLEDO74-9.6
2-NOVBUFFALO1000.7
12-nOVat AKRON1265.2
19-NOVat Northern Illinois85-7.5
29-NOVKENT STATE1115.8

Average Projected Record: 6.3 wins, 5.7 losses (4.2 wins, 3.8 losses)