Yes EMU fans, it's that time again this year to look at the upcoming football season. A word that has not been used very often, if at all the last decade has reappeared: EXPECTATIONS. Yes, expectations. Expectations of a possible winning season. Expectations of another round of beating both WMU and CMU in the same season (like last year) and the expectations of playing MEANINGFUL games in November.
Let's see how we get there from here:
Coach Jeff Genyk enters his fifth season as EMU top man. Five years at EMU is a long time indeed. Two years ago Genyk was leading a 1-11 team and a lot of us thought it was time for him to go. Johnny sure did. He'll admit it where others who cover EMU will not. Last year showed a heap of improvement and this year, well let's just say a .500 record in conference play is a MUST. The MAC isn't the beast it was say 5-7 years ago. It's down slightly, which should give Eastern and the coaching staff time to improve. They're picked fifth in the MAC West by the media, we say bullshit. This team is better than that. The coaching staff has to be ready to handle success. EMU could have a very good September, they can't let that turn into a bad October. Jobs are most likely on the line if things go south and stay there.
Offensively, Eastern looks to be in good shape. Returning QB Andy Schmitt is a dual threat to run or pass and appears to have command of the entire offense right now. His passing game vastly improved last season. The offensive line looks solid. They'll be a fine run blocking team should EMU find a back ready to carry the ball 20-25 times a game. Chances are, running by committee will be the norm. Still, an experienced QB with the ability to run a complex offense could open holes that can change games.
Defensively, EMU is led by NFL star in the making linebacker Daniel Holtzclaw. He's a game changer, the kind EMU hasn't seen in a while. He's also on three NCAA award watch lists. If Eastern can get a top flight effort from the defensive front which was fantastic at times last year, leaving Holtzclaw free to do what he does, good things will happen. The Eastern Michigan secondary, recently a strength, has question marks, but question marks that can be answered more easily with a great push from the front seven. You hate to put too much pressure on just one player, but in the MAC one impact player can have a HUGE impact. Daniel Holtzclaw, go get 'em.
Our analysis: Eastern will improve their record to 6-6, up from 4-8 a year ago. We like EMU to beat Indiana State, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Army, Western Michigan and Temple. No big winning streaks, but also, no bad losing streaks. If Eastern Michigan can pick up that extra bonus win somewhere in the conference, maybe at Bowling Green or at home to league favorite Central Michigan, this season goes from improvement, to out and out success.
Expectations are back in Ypsilanti this fall, OR in the words of Ted Knight in Caddyshack, we say to the EMU football team:
"Well, we're WAITING"