Army travels to Ypsilanti, Michigan to face the Eastern Michigan Eagles this Saturday. Army was beat 17-14, as time expired, by a Mike Weaver's 47-yard field goal that gave Wake Forest the victory last Saturday at Michie Stadium. The Eagles are 1-2 (0-1 MAC) on the season following a tough 28-17 loss to Ball State. Army has won 5 of 6 meetings against the Eagles but Army allowed five touchdown passes by Eastern Michigan's quarterback Tyler Benz as the previously winless Eastern Michigan defeated Army 48-38 on their last visit to Rynearson Stadium in 2012.
ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
EASTERN MICHIGAN PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EASTERN MICHIGAN
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw has completed 9-of-20 for 166 passing yards (45%) with two touchdowns against an interception this year. Bradshaw was 2-of-3 for 54 passing yards and sacked once last week. His first throw was his best as Bradshaw rolled out off waggle action and made a perfect throw DeAndre Bell for 31-yards to help set up Army's first touchdown. Bell made a great catch in traffic. It was just his second career catch for the senior. Slotback Joe Walker (3 rec., 85 receiving yards, 28.3 avg., 2 TDs) leads the team in touchdown receptions.
Eastern Michigan is currently ranked 10th in the nation in pass defense allowing 136 yard per game but that's because their 127th ranked run defense can't stop anyone. EMU's statistics are a bit skewed but they have done a solid job in coverage allowing only two touchdown passes over three games and 82 pass attempts. Junior safety Ikie Calderon likely won a starting job after he came off the bench last game against Ball State and recorded 17 tackles last week. Whip Jason Beck (86 tackles, INT in 2014) and cornerback DaQuan Pace (45 tackles in 2014) return from a unit that ranked next-to-last in the MAC with just six interceptions last year. The Eagles currently have no team interceptions. Derric Williams has a team-best two sacks and can pressure. the quarterback. The Eagles have been unable to replace the pass rush of injured defensive tackle Pat O'Connor who had 7 1/2 sacks last fall.
ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
EASTERN MICHIGAN RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Black Knights are currently ranked a shockingly miserable 48th in the nation in rushing averaging only 207 rushing yards a game. Army ran for just 186 yards, averaged 3.4 yards per carry and two touchdowns last week against Wake Forest. The offensive line was missing two starters and reshuffled four players with two plebes on the offensive line and it showed. The Black Knights was unable to sustain blocks, failed to establish the fullback and block the backside pursuit. The only offensive threat has been sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (333 rushing yards, 5.7 avg., 4 TDs). Ahmad has improved his ball handling and decision making since I first saw him at USMAPS. It will be nice if someone blocked for him. Plebe Christian Drake ran twice for 37 yards and scored last week. Drake showed his track speed on his 9-yard touchdown run. The Black Knights continue to struggle to establish the fullback as Matt Giachinta (48 yards, 3.4 avg., TD) and Aaron Kemper (76 yards, 3.6 avg.) have struggled to find running room.
Eastern Michigan is currently ranked dead last in run defense. The Eagles are allowing a whopping 312 rushing yards a game. Ball State ran the ball 52 times for 278 yards, and averaged more than 5 yards per carry in last Saturdays game. EMU's best player is senior inside linebacker Great Ibe. He led the team with 133 tackles last fall with 11 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and an assisted sack. Ibe posted double-digit tackles in nine games in 2014. So far this year he leads the team with 30 tackles. They really miss defensive tackle Pat O'Connor who will miss this season with a shoulder injury. He was a first-team All-MAC selection last year after leading EMU in sacks (7.5) and tackles for a loss (14.0). Outside linebacker Anthony Zappone (90 tackles in 2014) was named 2nd Team Preseason All-MAC. The last time Army and Eastern Michigan met the Black Knights ran for 513 yards back in 2013.
EASTERN MICHIGAN PASSING OFFENSE
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
The Eagles have scored 99 points and 1,269 total yards in the team's first three contests in 2015. Quarterback Brogan Roback has completed 46-of-80 passes for 597 passing yards (57.5%) and three touchdowns with three interceptions. Roback replaced injured sophomore quarterback Reggie Bell Jr. who was hurt in the opener. Bell was a dual-threat quarterback who led the team in both passing (1,297 yards) and rushing (562) with 13 total touchdowns last year. The Eagles best wide receiver is Dustin Creel who has 11 receptions for 151 yards and two scores. He is listed as questionable but will likely play. The Army linebackers have to watch for running back Darious Jackson out of the backfield. He has 10 receptions for 157 receiving yards and a score.
The Black Knights pass defense is allowing over 255 passing yard a game. They are ranked 95th in
the nation. The secondary received a big boost when plebe cornerback Brandon Jackson picked off two passes in his first start last week. Jackson is quick, agile and has good speed. . Brandon was a good wide receiver in high school and has excellent hands as we mentioned in the Armysports.com R-day freshman Incoming report. Jeremy Timpf's interception bailed out Jeff Monken who when for it deep in his own end and was stopped on fourth down last week. Timpf's 17-yard return set up Army's first touchdown. Free safety Xavier Moss (6 tackles, PD) did a great job jumping the last out route of the game but dropped a sure interception that would have been returned for a touchdown. It cost the game. The Black Knights have done a much better job creating pressure and have eight sacks this year.
EASTERN MICHIGAN RUSHING OFFENSE
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EASTERN MICHIGAN\
REMARKS: Eastern Michigan is ranked 61st in the country in rushing. They are averaging 185 rushing yards per game. Darious Jackson is the team’s top runner with 266 yards, an impressive 6.2 yards per carry and five rushing touchdowns. Shaq Vann has been a quality red shirt freshman back up. Vann has run for 205 yards, a 6.2 yards per carry average and two scores. The Eagles miss the dual threat capability of quarterback Reggie Bell who was injured in the opener. Backup passer Brogan Robackis more of a pocket passer at quarterback.
The Black Knights are ranked 59th in the country against the run and are allowing 146 rushing yards per game. The Black Knights allowed Wake Forest 171 rushing yards, 4.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns on the ground. Army opened with a 3-3-5 defensive look last week. Army limited the Wake Forest running backs but were really hurt by quarterback Kendall Hinton’s mobility as he ran for 101 yards. Inside linebacker Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf are tied with the team lead 23 tackles Nose tackle T.J. Altimalala has played well with 16 tackles and 5 1/2 tackles for a loss. Altimalala left for a time last week with an injury but returned.
EDGE: EASTERN MICHIGAN
REMARKS: Eastern Michigan's kicker Dylan Mulder has converted 5-of-6 field goal attempts with a long of 52 yards this year. EMU punter Austin Barnes is an excellent punter. He does a nice job getting hang time of his punts. Barnes is averaging 47.6 per punt. Forget about returning kicks against kick off specialist Brendan Renius who has 15 touchbacks on 19 kickoffs. Devon Russell is averaging 21.3 yards per kickoff return. Blake Banham is the Eagles punt returner averaged 9.0 yards. Eastern Michigan have struggled covering kicks..
Army kicker Dan Grochowski badly shanked a 39-yard field goal last week. He once again boomed the ball on all three kickoffs as he had three touchbacks. Steady punter Alex Tardieu is averaged 42.1 yards per punt. Marcus Hyatt is averaging 17.4 yards per kickoff return. Edgar Poe has found no room on punt returns. The coverage of the special teams was poor last week.
Eagle head coach Chris Creighton is in his second year trying to rebuild the Eagles. During his 18-year head coaching career, the 46-year-old Creighton has accumulated eight conference titles and an all-time record of 142-58 (.710 winning percentage). He departed Drake with the highest winning percentage in school history (.667) after also posting 63 wins as the head coach at Wabash College and 32 at Ottawa University. EMU has really improved under offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer. The Eagles have scored 99 points and produced 1,269 total yards in the team's first three games.
This is a key game for Jeff Monken to get his team back on track. Jeff Monken is in his second season as Army head coach and has a 42-27 (.609) career record. It’s now or never for Brent Davis to get his triple option attack rolling against the worst rushing defense in college football.
REMARKS: Eastern Michigan has drawn larger crowds playing Army than the Eagles historically see so they will be excited to play. EMU will be motivated to get the win against a winless opponent they feel than can handle before getting into MAC schedule.
Army has not won on the road at an opponent’s home field since 2010! The Black Knights lost 48-38 to a previously winless Eastern Michigan the last time the traveled to Rynearson Stadium in 2013. This is a winnable game but Army has lost to their last eight MAC opponents on the road. They were crushed by a bad winless Kent State team 39-17 last year. Army needs to prove they can win on the road. Army will be desperate for a victory and need to make a stand here.
PREDICTION: ARMY 38, EASTERN MICHIGAN 24. In the Armysports.com preseason prediction I had this as an Army loss. I've change my mind but admit to having subzero confidence in the ability of Army to win away from Michie Stadium. However, football is a game of match-ups. If Army is going to get their running game going there isn't a better opponent than the worst FBS program against the run. If Army doesn't run for at least 400 rushing yards in this game then their offensive line is broken perhaps beyond repair this season. EMU is that bad on defense right now. The Eagles offense is improved but I think EMU's defense is over-matched here.