Army Opponent Preview: Eastern Michigan

Army West Point closes out the first third of the 2015 season with a trip to Ypsilanti to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles. This is a program which has not seen a winning season since back in 1995 and which has been propping up the MAC standings for the last couple of years.

2014 Record: 2-10 (1-7 in the MAC – Sixth and last in the MAC West)

Series Record: Army leads 5-1 in a series which dates back to a first meeting in 1992 which Army won 57-17. This is a traditionally high scoring matchup with Army averaging 36 points per game all time against EMU.

Last Meeting: Back in 2013 this game became a showcase for Terry Baggett as he singlehandedly torched Eastern Michigan as Army West Point rolled past the Eagles 50-25. Baggett ran for four touchdowns, including one which covered 96 yards, on his way to a school record 304 yards rushing in a single game.

Head Coach: Chris Creighton is entering his second season as the Eagles head coach with a 2-10 (.167) win/loss record. Creighton arrived in Ypsilanti after a successful spell at FCS school Drake where he went 42-22 and twice tied for the Pioneer Football League crown.

Spring News: With this being the second year in the program for the offensive, defensive and special teams systems, consistency and discipline were the buzz words this spring. With all the turn around that has happened at EMU over the past few seasons, this is the first time that anyone in the program currently has had consecutive seasons with the same system. It is hoped that this growth in the program will translate to better performances this fall.

Projected Strengths: As one of the worst programs in the country over the last decade, Eastern Michigan has rarely been blessed with game changing players. This may have changed at the back end of the 2014 season, however, when Reginald Bell (photo above) settled into the starting quarterback spot. As a freshman Ball piled up over 300 yards of total offense against Buffalo, including a pair of 70-yard touchdown runs. He followed this up by passing for 409 yards in a 45-30 to Ball State later in the year. How Bell, a former state track champion out of California, ended up in Ypsilanti is anyone’s guess, but he has the potential to be a dynamic dual threat as a sophomore.

While the EMU defense overall is something of a mess, the Eagles best overall player does play on that side of the ball. Defensive lineman Pat O’Connor totaled 64 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles a year ago. O’Connor, who can play inside or outside, will certainly need some more help than he had last fall to become a dominant players. The skills, however, are most definitely there.

Projected Weaknesses: Eastern Michigan’s offensive line was not good in 2014, but at least it was experienced. This year the Eagles have to replace three starters and try to build around returning starter Andrew Wylie who will step into the vacant spot at right tackle. If the line is not able to function as a unit right out of the gate this fall then this could be another year where EMU ranks in the bottom 10% of the country in most offensive categories.

The Eagles defense as a unit is just bad. Eastern Michigan allowed 40.9 points and 498.8 yards of total offense in 2014, while forcing just 12 turnovers. That combination of an inability to stop teams offensively from grinding out yards and also failing to take the ball away from them helped the defense be ranked as one of the 10 worst in the nation. With seven starters returning, and the defense employing the same system in consecutive years for the first time in four years, the defense will be better. Expecting a massive jump however is a stretch.

Prediction: The Eagles have finished 2-10 the last three seasons, but it seems like the talent should be there for a jump from that. Army, however, poses a unique threat with the triple option offense which is hard to game plan for when you don’t have outstanding athletes who can shut the attack down. With that in mind it is reasonable to expect Army to push on in the second half and win this game by double digits.

ArmySports.com Top Stories