It hasn’t been the prettiest season for the Eastern Michigan football team but its 44-22 loss to Louisiana State University taught us a lot about the potential future of the program. Here are five things to take away from Saturday evening’s game.
1. The future is bright:
Change takes time and second year head coach Chris Creighton is still adjusting while bringing in his own recruits to play for him. Tonight proved that the program is heading in the right direction, however. Contributions from freshman Eddie Daugherty, redshirt freshman Shaq Vann and junior college transfer tight ends Sam Browning and Cody Tuttle had a huge impact on the offense Saturday night. The four combined for 151 of the 161 total receiving yards for the team. Vann also rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown. Daugherty showed great strides at kick returns netting 126 yards on five attempts.
2. Darius Jackson is the best running back in the Mid-American Conference:
Eastern Michigan senior Darius Jackson came into the Louisiana State game leading the Mid-American Conference in rushing yards and touchdowns. Jackson was able to showcase his running ability as he rushed for 66 yards on 19 carries including a touchdown. With that touchdown, Jackson has now scored in all five of EMU’s games this season and ranks ninth in the FBS in rushing touchdowns with seven.
3. Run defense still struggling but showed improvement:
Eastern Michigan had the near impossible challenge of facing one of the toughest running backs in the country in LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Going into the game, Fournette was fifth in the nation in rushing yards and EMU ranked last in rushing defense. EMU allowed 399 rushing yards to LSU but that number is significantly down compared to the previous week when it allowed 578 to Army. EMU was able to cause LSU's first turnover of the season as senior Clay Dawson intercepted LSU quarterback Brandon Harris. EMU also had a hole in their defense as senior linebacker Great Ibe did not see the field due to an unknown reason.
4. Roback’s inconsistency:
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Brogan Roback has shifted into a starting role after an injury brought down Reggie Bell earlier in the season, but the transition hasn't been without its fair share of ups and downs. Roback went 17-24 with a touchdown pass and even caught a two-point conversion pass from wide receiver Eddie Daugherty. He also had his struggles which included three interceptions. Moving forward, Roback will need to start finding a consistent rhythm or he could find himself back on the bench once Bell gets cleared of his broken jaw.
5. Silenced the critics:
Going into Saturday night’s game, everyone, including myself, figured this game was not going to be pretty. Critics said that Saturday's game was just a game for EMU to earn a payday. But the EMU football program proved us all wrong. Now EMU will be able to take the $950,000 paycheck back to Ypsilanti with its pride still intact.
Overall, Eastern Michigan football still has a lot to improve on, but the future is looking brighter than ever for the Eagles.