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Things haven't been great for Chris Creighton in his first two years on the job at Eastern Michigan, going 3-21 overall with just one win last year (zero in MAC play). The Eagles can only blame themselves as they had a number of winnable games, especially ones at home against Old Dominion, Army and UMass. They'll try to increase that total this year, but an unfriendly schedule may be too much to overcome.
As a positive, EMU doesn't have that bad of an offense and get back their starting quarterback in Brogan Roback. This unit did score 25.4 points per game, so they weren't terrible as Roback threw for 16 TDs and 11 INTs while completing 61% of his passes. Things won't be any easier this year with a receiving corps that's mostly filled with underclassmen, although Eddie Daugherty (557 yards, 4 TDs) led the way last year. Tight end Cody Tuttle (33 receptions, 348 yards) was used a lot, as well.
Even better, the Eagles return all five starters along the offensive line with all of them being seniors. That's expected to help a ground game that was mediocre last year, averaging 4.5 yards per carry as a team. Shaq Vann (586 yards, 5 TDs) steps into the starting role and needs to replace what Darius Jackson did last year.
Defensive is where this team has to improve if they want to see any kind of uptick in wins. The Eagles gave up an astronomical 41.2 points per game and were often out of games in the first half giving the offense a difficult task to come back in every game. Most of the issues came in the ground game where they were the worst in the nation, giving up 316.6 rushing yards per game.
As expected, injuries played a large part in those struggles. Even so, EMU brought in a new coordinator from UTSA, Neal Neathery, who didn't exactly do great things with the Roadrunners. Either way, Neathery will implement a new 4-2-5 defense that'll mix things up. The line gets back Pat O'Connor to go with nose guard Mike Brown as two seniors. Ike Spearman also returns at linebacker with Anthony Zappone. The secondary has the most experience with four returning starters, although weren't challenged much last year due to teams gashing the Eagles on the ground.
Nothing is guaranteed in the schedule for Eastern, but home games against MVSU and Wyoming should help the win total, considering they won at Wyoming last year. But the MAC schedule is unkind. In addition to playing in the difficult MAC West, they have to travel to the two best teams in the East: Bowling Green and Ohio. Finding a conference win will be tough, but a home game against Miami (OH) is a possibility or even against Central.
The Eagles have experience at quarterback, a decent offensive line and should improve defensively, but what will that result in? The schedule won't allow for Eastern Michigan to pick up more than three or four wins this year unless this team makes massive improvements across the board.
2016 Eastern Michigan Eagles Football Schedule
Sept. 2 vs. Mississippi Valley State
Sept. 10 at Missouri
Sept. 17 at Charlotte
Sept. 23 vs. Wyoming
Oct. 1 at Bowling Green
Oct. 8 vs. Toledo
Oct. 15 at Ohio
Oct. 22 at Western Michigan
Oct. 29 vs. Miami (OH)
Nov. 8 at Ball State
Nov. 16 vs. Northern Illinois
Nov. 22 vs. Central Michigan
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