This Saturday (Aug. 31) marks the beginning of the much anticipated season for the 2019 edition of the Eastern Michigan Eagles football program.
The Eagles will travel to Conway, South Carolina to take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who are coming off a 5-7 season in which they won just one home game.
Offense was no problem for the Chanticleers of the Sun Belt Conference in 2018, as the offensive attack gained just over 198 yards on the ground at 4.6 yards per carry. The air raid of Coastal Carolina averaged 180 yards per game at just over eight yards per attempt. The team totaled almost 27 points per game on average over the course of the season.
However, the defense was a very different story for the Chanticleers as they were gashed for over 33 points per game. The run defense offered seemingly no resistance en route to allowing 3,204 yards on the ground and just over 244 yards per game. The passing defense wasn’t much better, allowing an average of 206 yards per game and forcing just four interceptions.
The Eagles offense this season will be led by Mike Glass III at QB, coming off a season in which he completed 61.5% of his passes and tallied nine touchdowns to just one interception through the air in nine games. Glass also chipped in to the running game as he ran for six scores on his own, averaging just under six yards per carry.
“I really believe that if your quarterback’s best attributes aren’t being a leader and being a winner, then it’s not going to work out for you,“ EMU head coach Chris Creighton said on the weekly MAC teleconference. “I’m really excited to say that his (Mike Glass III) best attributes are his leadership, his character and his belief in himself and the team. He’s a winner. He’s fun to be around, and he’s fun to coach. The guys love him and believe in him, and I think he’s doing a great job at quarterback."
The Chanticleers offense will be headed by sophomore QB Fred Payton, who attempted just 75 passes last season in seven games at a completion rate of 65%. He had six touchdowns to two interceptions. Payton is a dual-threat himself, tallying 46 carries for 142 yards in his lone season as the starter.
Eastern’s defense will seek to contain Payton and the high flying Chanticleers offense while also replacing the production of former star defensive lineman, Maxx Crosby, a fourth-round draft selection of the 2019 NFL Draft to the Oakland Raiders.
“We’re going to start with 11 on defense.” Creighton said. “I don’t know that we’ll have the production from a single player, a defensive end, who will be playing in his position. Maxx (Crosby) was just so productive, and I would tell you that Jeremiah Harris, our other defensive end who graduated and started out there with the New York Giants, was incredibly productive. We’ve really lost both starters, and it will be difficult to replace that production."
The defensive unit will look to recreate an excellent statistical season from last year in which they allowed just 22 points per game and the ball-hawking secondary baited opposing QBs into throwing 13 interceptions. Creighton and his team are looking to build upon a very respectable 7-6 record from a season ago which ended in a bowl loss to Georgia Southern by a narrow deficit of 23-21.
Fanduel Sportsbook has released the over-under win total betting odds for every school in the country for the upcoming season, and the Eagles’ number is set at 6.5 wins. Fanduel Sportsbook has the Eagles favored by 6.0 points against the Chanticleers this Saturday, with the over under line set at 53.5 points.
Tune in to ESPN+ this Saturday, Aug. 31 at 3:30 p.m. to see if the Eagles can earn their first victory and start the season off on the right foot.
“I love our team; I really do,” Creighton said. “I just feel really good about our program and where it’s headed. It’s been a great camp,“ “I’m ready. I feel as though the last three years we have been very competitive, but there’s a whole other break though, another realm, for us to get to. We have not been there so that’s what’s next. What we believe inside of our walls is that we are ready for that but talking about it and doing it can be two different things.”