Eastern Michigan vs Howard: Game Preview

Jamie Sabau

We all know the narrative, it's been on a loop for over a decade. Can EMU get to where they want to go? The Eagles can only get there one game at a time, starting with the Howard Bison.

"EMU is just bad"

"This program hasn't been to a bowl game since 1987"

"They should consider dropping down to the FCS"

We've heard these year after year, dating back to the prehistoric times, before Hustle Belt was even a forethought. With a hefty schedule to try and make a real run at a bowl game for the first time in my lifetime, the Eagles are "all in" this season.

Here are some things that I'll be looking out for this evening:

-The quarterback and his offense. The hire of Stan Parrish has to show somewhere, right? Coach Ron English has said that quarterback Tyler Benz has made great improvements with his foot work and mechanics with Parrish's coaching, but is this honesty, coach speak, or a combination of the two?

-Who is Bronson Hill and who are his friends? Everybody thinks Bronson Hill is the best player on this offense. I'm not going to argue either way in that debate, but just remember that he didn't score a touchdown outside the month of October last season. Did he just have a notable month, or can he be a legit threat for defenses throughout the course of the game? He caught a few passes out of the backfield last year for big gains, let's see how Parrish will use his talents. Also, watch out for Javonti Greene. He was a huge playmaker in 2011 with a down season last year. He's not a big, tough, up-the-middle back, but it's a footrace to the end zone if he gets the outside edge. Another thing, the name you need to watch out for is Darius Jackson, a true sophomore that will be wearing no. 6 this season. Why watch out for him? The same reason we should've been looking out for Hill.

-Attitude. If you go onto Youtube dot com and search for English's post-game pressers, you'll hear him talk about how he had a cocky team last year that didn't have very many good practices. That's not coach speak, that's honesty. If the upper class men don't play with chip on their shoulder after going 2-10 last year, then they're going to be in for a rough start against the Howard Bison.

-Speed kills. In what I've heard from English, he's said that his group of secondaries, including junior safety Pudge Cotton, is the fastest he's ever coached. I know what you're thinking, faster backs should equal more interceptions. I understand the correlation there, but let's see how quickly they swarm to the ball on the running game as well. Linebackers can't do it all.

-Tyreese Russell. He's going to have some big shoes to fill, but Russell will be just fine. He's a really good "jump-ball" receiver, but I want to see how well he can run block. This is probably something I should've looked for in previous seasons, but never really watched too closely. I guess now's a good time to start paying attention to things like that.

I think EMU will pull away with the win. Benz will spread the wealth and get at least five or six guys with a catch or two, but we'll know who his go-to receiver will be by the end of the night. If the defense can stop it with their chronic arm-tackling disorder that they were diagnosed with last season, it'll be a low-scoring game for the Bison. My final score prediction: EMU wins 32-14.

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