FREE GBK Preview: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Gordon Larson, GBK Sr. Writer
Go Black Knights

Not a subscriber to GBK? There’s no better time than now, as the Black Knights have kicked-off of their 2017 Army football season with a 4-2 start as Army now takes on the Rice Owls.

CLICK HERE FOR 15-DAY FREE TRIAL OFFER continues its previews of 2017 opponents with the 7th game of the season against the Eastern Michigan as the Eagles return to Michie for the first time since 2013.

When: 12pm EST, Saturday, October 14th at Michie Stadium.

Series Record: Army West Point holds a 6-1 lead in the series, with Army’s only loss coming in an away game in 2012, when the Eagles upset the Black Knights by a score of 48-13. The Black Knights dominated the last two meetings of the series.

Last Meeting - September 26, 2015: The Black Knights finally found an offense that had been missing in the previous 3 games, rolling 556 yards on the ground and adding 98 yards in the air to win their first game of the season and its first Away Game in 5 years by a score of 58-36.

EMU’s Record 

2017 record to date (2-3 overall, 0-2 in the MAC): EMU started their season with wins over a Charlotte (24-7) and Big 10 opponent Rutgers (16-13), before suffering a narrow loss in their first game to Ohio (27-20). They gave Kentucky a major scare (24-20), as the Wildcats needed an interception in the end zone to hold onto their winning margin. EMU traveled to Toledo this past weekend for their second conference game and lost to the Rockets 20-15 in a sloppy game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Toledo was able to move the ball well against EMU but the Eagles Red Zone defense kept them out of the end zone.

2016: Eastern Michigan had their first winning season since 2011, going 4-4 in their conference and 7-5 in the regular season with a loss to Old Dominion in their first bowl appearance since 1992.

EMU Offense


Courtesy of Detroit Free Press

Like most teams in the MAC, the Eagles prefer the pass over the run with 204 passing attempts compared to 153 rushing attempts this season. The difference is more noticable in the offensive stats shown below:

2017 Stats after 5 games:

Scoring Offense: 19.0 points per game (116th in FBS)

Total Offense: 351 yards per game (100th in FBS)

Rushing Offense: 74.2 yards per game (129th in FBS)

Passing Offense: 276.8 yards per game (33d in FBS)

2016 Stats: EMU scored an average of 29.6 points per game. They rushed for an average 159 yards/game and passed for an average of 296 yards/game.

Quarterback: Unlike many of the teams that Army West Point has faced recently, EMU has relied exclusively on one quarterback, Brogan Roback, to lead their offense this season. Army fans may remember him as the same man who was at the helm for the Eagles back in 2015. Roback is a senior now with two more years of experience. He has completed 119 of his 197 passing attempts, but he is not a significant threat on the ground with negative yardage this season. Roback will occasionally run a draw but he has been Sacked 9 times this season.

Running Backs: The Eagles have a weak rushing offense by Army standards. They have 4 RBs with rushing attempts and their combined total is just 371 yards in 153 attempts this season. The leading rusher on the team is junior Shaq Vann who has 210 yards in 58 attempts.

Receivers: The Eagles receivers account for considerably more offensive yards than the running backs. Senior WR Sergio Bailey leads the Eagles with 29 catches for 419 yards, while another senior WR, Antoine Porter is second with 22 catches for 218 yards.

Offensive Line: Junior LT Chris Bukoski (6-5, 295 lbs) appeared in 4 games in 2015 and 5 this season. He missed the 2016 season with an injury. RS-Freshman LG, Jake Donnelon (6-5, 300 lbs) has appeared in 5 games this season. Junior Center, Dakota Tallman (6-5, 310 lbs) is on the Rimington watch list this year. Junior RG, Jimmy Leatiota (6-3, 295 lbs) is on the Outland Trophy watch list this year and is a pre-season All MAC second team selection. Sophomore RT, Steve Nielsen (6-8, 320 lbs) had one start as a freshman in 2016.

EMU Defense


EMU played a 4-3–4 defense against Kentucky and presumably that’s what they’ll play against Army as well. The defensive coordinator is in his second year at EMU and came from UTSA; so he has no apparent experience against the triple option. Head coach, Chris Creighton has seen the Army triple option twice.

2017 Stats after 5 games:

Scoring Defense: Allowed 18.2 pts per game (21st in FBS)

Total Defense: Allowed 324.2 yds per game (25th in FBS)

Rushing Defense: Allowed 129.6 yds per game (43d in FBS) (3.4 ave per attempt)

Passing Defense: Allowed 194.6 yds per game (27th in FBS)

2016 Stats: EMU gave up an average of 29.8 points per game ; allowed an average of 168 yards rushing and 265 yards passing in the passing oriented MAC conference.

Defensive Line: Senior Oddie Granger (6-3, 315 lbs) is listed as the starter at NG, but was not on the team when EMU played Army in 2015. Senior DT, Dion Dawson (6-2, 320 lbs) was not around in 2015 either. Sophomore End Max Crosby (6-5, 265 lbs) was a redshirt in 2015. RS-Junior BULL, Jeremiah Harris (6-5, 255 lbs.) was sidelined by an injury for the 2015 Army game. He is a pre-season All MAC first team selection by Athlon Sports.

Linebackers: Senior MIKE, Ike Spearman (6-0, 233 lbs) missed the 2014 and 2105 seasons with injuries, but was EMU’s second leading tackler in the 2013 Army game. Junior WILL Jaylen Pickett was on the team and played in reserve against Army in 2015. Senior DOG LB Jason Beck (6-1, 220 lbs) started at Whip against Army in 2015 and registered 8 tackles.

Defensive Backs: Junior FC Ross Williams (6-0, 200 lbs) was on the team but did not play against Army in 2015. Sophomore BC Kevin McGill (6-2, 195) was still in high school in 2015. Junior FS Justin Moody (5-10, 185 lbs) played in reserve against Army in 2015 but did not figure statistically. Sophomore ROVE Vince Calhoun (6-0, 215 lbs) was a Rivals 3 star recruit in high school in 2015.

2017 Season Outlook

EMU is no longer one a bottom feeder in the MAC, and is predicted to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the West Division. EMU got off to a poor start with an expected loss to Ohio, one of the teams predicted to compete for the West Division title.

Outlook For The Game

Army West Point has scheduled a lot of games with MAC conference teams in recent years and EMU will be the second MAC team that Army plays this season. The Eagles are a middle of the road FBS team, the kind that Army West Point needs to beat fairly regularly to gain much respect in the FBS. The game is at home in Michie, and EMU has not fared well in any of their appearances at West Point; so we expect to see Army West Point continue its unbeaten streak at home.

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