Hustle Belt: How are Creighton and the new coaching staff fitting in with the team?
Michael Niziolek: Coach Chris Creighton quickly made EMU his team, and home. It’s hard to believe how quickly he has worked to establish an identity for the team while getting each and every player to buy-in. His positive approach has resonated with players. Almost everyone also talks about the energy he brings to the field, and that has rubbed off on the players in practice.
HB: Any insight on how the quarterback battle is progressing? Do we have a front runner to start the season opener?
MN: All three quarterbacks are getting high praise from both coach Creighton and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBeor. Brogan Roback has made a lot of strides from his freshman season putting on 30 pounds of muscle, improving his throwing motion and establishing himself as a leader on the team. Transfer Rob Bolden is physically impressive at 6-foot-4, 200 plus pounds. Even though he spent a semester at wide receiver at LSU, he hasn't shown a lot of rust on the field.
Bolden's biggest disadvantage is time. He didn't go through any of the team's offseason workouts or practices, and didn't get to the school until the end of July. He has days to learn an offense that Roback and Reginald Ball Jr. have had months to learn. I think that puts Roback as the front runner.
HB: What position do you think will excel most on the field?
MN: The offensive line has the most experience out of any of EMU’s position groups. Only one starter, right guard Orlando McCord, graduated. The line will be asked to block more in the passing game, and work out of the no huddle, but I think most of them have been together long enough to be able to make the transition work. They also have a nice amount of size.
As far as question marks, the back of the defense--linebackers and secondary--still has a lot to prove. Eastern Michigan allowed a lot of points and yards last season, and a new defense won't be a magic cure. Both groups need to perform better.
HB: How has the team's attitude changed from last year? They were faced with so much adversity, what is the mindset going into this season?
MN: The mindset of every player I have talked to has been extremely positive. After all that happened last year, only one player ended up transferring. The team rallied together in the face of a lot of adversity, and the university brought in a coach that has worked to foster that team-first approach.
HB: How successful do you see EMU football being this year?
MN: I think four wins isn't out of the realm of possibility. Outside of Morgan State, EMU has a challenging out of conference schedule. The Eagles are probably looking at a 1-3 start, but the goal in the early season will be to prevent the blowout losses that have plagued the program in previous seasons.