College Football Preview: The 2014 Eastern Michigan Eagles
Chris Creighton is tasked with turning around Eastern Michigan football.
2014 College Football Preview
The Eastern Michigan Eagles and new head coach Chris Creighton hope to become a factor in the MAC.
Overview: Eastern Michigan isn't known for winning football and hasn't posted a winning record since 1995. Enter Chris Creighton who has experience and has been successful wherever he has been. He inherits a program that went 2-10 in 2013 and had to deal with the shooting death of receiver Demarius Reed right before game seven versus Ohio. With an offense that didn't score enough and a defense that didn't get enough stops Creighton has a full plate in front of him.
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Offense: Highly touted freshman Brogan Roback took over as quarterback in 2013 and sent former number one Tyler Benz to the bench and ultimately off to another school. Roback struggled to 642 yards on 42% completions but did gain some valuable experience and is the likely starter. Even though Creighton likes to throw, his best offensive weapon might be RB Bronson Hill who ran for nearly 1,100 yards and is a capable receiver. The receiving corps returns the top two options in WR Dustin Creel and TE Tyreese Russell who combined for 90 catches and almost 1,200 yards so the skill positions have some threats. The line get back seven players with starting experience but it will be asked to go from a run first attack to one that puts the ball in the air.
Defense: The defensive line was on the youthful side of things in 2013 and lost two top contibutors but get six of eight back overall for a decent foundation to work with. Three of the top four linebackers and eight in the secondary with game experience are back so the Eagles have depth defensively. The DL was actually solid on applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks but struggled versus the run. The secondary simply didn't make many plays which obviously negated a better then average pass rush and with starting safety's Mycal Swaim and Donald Coleman gone there are even more concerns.
Special Teams: Austin Barnes who averaged 39.7 yards on 50 punts is back but Dylan Mulder needs some range on field goals. Mulder was 5-6 under 40 yards but just 1-5 beyond and for a team that needed points that is an area to look at. Tyler Allen returned a whopping 51 kickoffs in 2013 and could approach that number once again but the punt return job will likely be decided over the summer. The coverage teams were poor and need a transformation.
Outlook: Creighton and his new coordinators have a winning track record so how that translates at EMU is a questioned to be answered. Probably not a big 2014 in the making as the systems that have been in place are overhauled which likely means at least another season where the Eagles will struggle in the win column.