Head coach: Jeff Genyk
Last season: Football Truth No. 1: You won't win games scoring fewer than 14 points per game. The Eagles' 13.9 scoring average was worst in the MAC and fifth-worst in the nation. The defense was pretty awful, too, giving up more than 200 yards per game rushing, which was fourth-worst in the nation. If there was one bright point, it was the completion percentage of the quarterbacks of 58.6. But the trio of passers still threw 16 picks compared to seven touchdowns. Five of the touchdowns went to star receiver Eric Deslosiers.
Best returning player: Junior linebacker Daniel Holtzclaw
Offense: Football Truth No. 2: Losing your five of your best players from a 1-11 team won't yield much better results. Sophomore Andy Schmitt has some upside as the starting quarterback, but he's recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. The Eagles return their top three running backs, each of which could be decent. They also will need to catch some passes, as Deslosiers will be hard to replace. The offensive line returns three starters, but it will be difficult for EMU to establish a running game with an offense devoid of established receivers and a mistake-prone quarterback.
Defense: The defense returns nine starters, including Holtzclaw, who led the MAC in tackles. The two graduating starters were strong in stopping the run, so that should be an even larger question than last season (if that's possible). Senior lineman Jason Jones, an all-MAC preseason choice, is a force inside, though. He registered 18 tackles for loss last season.
Season outlook: Looking at the schedule, the only winnable games appear to be at home versus Ball State and Bowling Green. The Eagles absolutely must have some young players step up at receiver. Schmitt also needs to cut down on miscues, and inexperienced route runners probably won't help his cause. A young team like this needs confidence, and a win in the MAC opener could do that.
Crucial game: Sept. 8 vs. Ball State
Predicted record: 1-11 (including a loss versus Ball State)
Two new offers:
Rodney Stewart, all-purpose back, Columbus Offers: Akron, Eastern Michigan and Toledo Height: 5-foot-7 Weight: 170 Speed: 4.4 Notes: Two things prevent Stewart from getting more offers: his height and an ACL tear that kept him from playing his junior year. He also could play defensive back in college, but Akron and Toledo want him as a running back. Likelihood: Stewart's favorites are the schools who have offered, as well as some Big 10 teams.
Brian Thompson, wide receiver, Somerset, N.J. Offers: Akron Height: 5-10 Weight: 175 Speed: 4.63 Notes: He doesn't have the height, nor the speed the usually accompanies a diminutive receiver. The possible reason Akron offered: The Zips also are after his high school teammate Gavin Roberts, an athlete with two BCS offers. Likelihood: If true, it would be a risk that could pay off nicely.
Also, I got the image for the new stadium. It looks identical to the one you've already seen. I will try to get more details this week.
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