So far this season, EMU is 1-1 as expected. Despite playing Rice to a standstill after 3, the superior talent asserted itself in the 4th quarter to run away with it. Last week, EMU played “Rice-lite”, a Western Kentucky team that also tried to air it out, however without the same talent on the roster that strategy was snuffed out. So far, at least EMU’s offense is playing consistently well and looks to continue, traveling to a ULL team coming in at 0-2 after being smoked by Virginia, and then suffering a narrow loss to Kansas State. This is the teams first road game, but things look hopeful thus far.
ULL Offense vs. EMU Defense
While ULL hasn’t done a whole lot offensively, they have to be hoping QB Emory West starts playing better, because it looks like RB Raymond Herrara is a complete non-factor thus far. They do have a solid WR corps to try and bail him out, but he is also turning the ball over quite a bit (3 INTs). Of course this is mostly due to the sieve-like offensive line, which does not do this offense any favors with 7 sacks given up thus far. It feels like I’m writing the complete opposite of the Rice preview, and this does give EMU some confidence that they just have to follow the same blueprint and make sure not to give up to many big plays or suffer any big defensive breakdowns and they should be able to come out ahead, particularly as they have also been snagging some INTs and had 4 sacks last week.
EMU Offense vs. ULL Defense
Defensively, ULL has a defensive line that isn’t quite playing to their potential yet, recording only one sack and giving up over 400 yards per game. However, most of that gashing came from Virginia doing whatever they wanted, and Kansas State had more modest offensive stats. The strength of this defense is definitely the secondary on paper and CB Corey Flaherty has looked good on the stat sheet thus far. Their safeties have also been some of the team leaders in tackles, which could be looked at as good or bad. With that said, while they were ineffective in stopping the very talented UVA team, KSU had just an ok game.
Offensively, EMU has been about as balanced and consistent as you could want out of a team, with RB Pearson confirming the high expectations placed on him. QB Shaw seems determined to shed his “scrambler” label, as just like last season he almost refuses to run the ball, but overall this team is able to do a lot of things fairly well thus far. Against a ULL defense with strong safeties and no speed burners, Shaw is likely to try and pick on the corners while giving a lot of time to Pearson to just beat up on the defensive interior.
So far, ULL’s kicker looks accurate from short range, but perhaps doesn’t have the leg for 40+ which could hurt a little as points may be hard to come by. The ULL returners are serviceable, but their kick/punt defense teams looked abysmal against Virginia, giving up a return TD both ways. Ibrahima Griggs has to be salivating over that opportunity, although he has had a slower start this season. Again, K Donald Bray is a definite step down from last years Simon Hand, but he has looked ok and unlikely to lose any games for the Eagles.
This may be the most confident I’ve been in a preview, but I would think EMU wins this one handily. ULLs greatest strength is their secondary but that’s an area EMU never attacks anyways. In addition, this should finally be a chance for EMUs defense to assert themselves against a non high-powered offense. I think the pace of this game will be a bit slower, but that’s perfectly fine here.
Final prediction: EMU over ULL 27-20