Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Eastern Michigan’s history against Conference USA team’s isn’t very good, but EMU isn’t dwelling on history these days.
Instead, the 2016 Eagles fashioned their own bit of history by getting to the Bahamas Bowl. One of the steps along the way was a victory over C-USA’s Charlotte 49ers.
It will be a . . .
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(Last year: 4-8, 3-5 C-USA)
● Charlotte not only picked up its first three league wins in 2016, it became the first C-USA member to defeat both Southern Miss and Marshall in the same season.
● Redshirt junior Hasaan Klugh will be at quarterback. He completed 120 of 224 attempts (53.6) for 1,356 yards, with 10 TDs and three interceptions. He is also a running threat, finishing third on the team with 89 carries for 426 yards and tallied eight touchdowns on the ground.
● Klugh took over at mid-season after the dismissal of another QB. He will have an experienced set of receivers, including the return of T.L. Ford II and Workpeh Kofa. Redshirt senior Trent Bostick will draw a Week One start after redshirting due to injury last season..
● A pair of sophomores, Benny Lemay and Robert Washington, will carrie the pigskin. They’ll be operating behind an experienced offensive line.
● The 49ers hope to improve on defense, especially in pass defense. Among the spots to be replaced is defensive tackle, which was vacated by Larry Ogunjobi. He was the first Charlotte player be be drafted by an NFL team, going to Cleveland in the third round.
● Senior Karrington King is one of two returning linebackers, and is close to becoming the 49ers all-time leading tackler.
● Sophomore safety Ben DeLuca had an outstanding freshman season, leading Charlotte with 51 solo tackles.
● Charlotte was plus-7 in turnovers last year. However, it only had 14 sacks and lost a key rusher.
(Last year: 7-6. 4-4 MAC)
● EMU quarterback Brogan Roback did not play the first three games of 2016, including the Charlotte contest. However, Todd Porter completed 24 of 31 passes for 285 yards with two TDs and one interception.
● EMU lost three starters up front on offense, but if the Eagles can work that transition out, there is quality in running backs Shaq Ban and Ian Ericksen. Van missed nearly all of last year due to injury, but rushed for over 611 yards as a freshman.
● Roback will enjoy a receiving corps that returns three starters, actually four if you count tight end.
● The defense returns eight starters, although the secondary is still young.
● EMU returns a pair of All-MAC selections as placekicker and punter. The latter, Austing Barnes, ranked 25th in the nation with an average of 43.5 ppg.