2022 Eastern Michigan Eagles Preview

by Matt Fargo

Eastern Michigan Eagles

2021-22 Season Record 7-6 (4-4 MAC West) - 5-8-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 8
Defense - 6

Overview

Because of the pandemic, many players took advantage of the extra year granted and a lot of teams were blessed with an abundance of returning starters in 2021, including Eastern Michigan. The Eagles brought back 10 starters on each side of the ball and used that to record a 7-5 season and make it to the Lending Tree Bowl but were promptly blown out by Liberty 56-20. Yet it was another step in the right direction for Eastern Michigan that went 28 years without going to a bowl but has gone to the postseason four of the last five campaigns, discounting the 2-4 COVID season. Head coach Chris Creighton is in his ninth season with the program and he is the second highest tenured coach in the history of the school. They have another experienced group coming back with 14 returning starters and have a viable shot and making another bowl game to keep the run going.   

Offense

The offense slipped somewhat in 2021 but not by much as the Eagles dropped by 10 ypg and three ppg from the 2010 six-game season despite almost everyone back. Eight players return on the unit this season but they have to replace quarterback Ben Bryant who threw for 2,921 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions and led Eastern Michigan to the No. 33 passing offense in the country. The situation going into 2022 probably will not be decided until fall camp as three quarterbacks will by vying for the starting job. There are plenty of targets to get the ball to as most every receiver of note is back led by Hassan Beydoun and Dylan Drummond who combined for 1,585 yards and 10 scores. A running back has to emerge as the leading rusher is gone and the No. 112 rushing offense last season should get better behind an offensive line that has four starters returning.

Defense

The stop unit is what held the Eagles back as they allowed 34 or more points in six games including four of their last five. The defense did improve from the previous season and Eastern Michigan is hoping for another year of improvement. The Eagles finished No. 104 in total defense and No. 82 in scoring defense and while only six starters are back, they are all big time players. The defensive line will be the strength with the most experience back and they have to do a better job of stopping the run as they were gashed for 200 or more yards eight times. Jose Ramirez did the best job to disrupt the opponent backfield but he cannot do it alone after finishing No. 127 in the nation with just 45 tackles for loss with Ramirez accounting for more than 25 percent of those. The secondary is the weak link coming in with only two players with starting experience so a pass rush in crucial.

2022 Season Outlook

After a 3-21 start, Creighton has put together a 34-36 record over his last six years and no other coach has had a sustained run of even more than three years since 1988-1990 by Jim Harkema. Some say he is on the hot seat because he is 0-4 in bowl games but that is a nonsensical reason for a team that hardly ever even got there. If a quarterback can be found to run the show, the ascent should continue. The schedule sets up pretty well for the Eagles as they open against Eastern Kentucky to get ready for back-to-back road games against Louisiana and Arizona St., both likely losses but an upset is not out of the question. They are back home against Buffalo and Massachusetts so a 3-2 start is to be expected and the MAC slate is favorable with the three big games all at home. The O/U win total of 6.5 will come down to the final two road games against Akron and Kent St.  

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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