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Football Preseason Q&A: Eagle Totem

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With the football season starting to get close, it's time to check in with MSU's upcoming opponents. Over the next few weeks, we'll have a short Q&A with a blogger from each opposing school. Next up: Eastern Michigan. Carter Adler runs a great EMU blog, Eagle Totem, and contributes to the top MAC blog Hustle Belt. He was gracious enough to answer some questions about the upcoming season and which uniform combo the Eagles could wear against MSU.

1. MSU is playing at CMU this season and will play at EMU and WMU in the future as part of the Celebrate the State series. What do you think of this plan?

As a fan of a smaller school, I love that they get the opportunity to host a quality major-conference team, and I think this was a brilliant marketing move on the part of Mark Hollis. That said, I'm concerned about the logistics of this, particularly after the ticket sales fiasco when the Spartan men's basketball team came to the Convocation Center last November.

2. EMU has been one of the worst teams in FBS in recent years, but had a solid 2011 at 6-6. What are the expectations for the upcoming season?

Last year, we saw a decent, but not great, EMU team that rode an easy schedule to become the winningest Eagles team in 15 years. This fall the team should be better -- potentially the best football team EMU has fielded since the Jim Harkema days in the late 1980s -- but my optimism is somewhat tempered by a meaningfully more-difficult schedule.

3. Who are some notable players that MSU fans could be hearing about when the teams meet?

Offensively, it depends on whether there's any truth to the off-season rumors that there will be a passing game. If there is a passing game, senior quarterback Alex Gillett will naturally be a key part, but for the 2 1/2 years he's started, it's been pretty spotty. The passing has never been consistent enough to really get a good sense of what any of the receivers can do, but senior tight end Garrett Hoskins is on several preseason tight end watch lists, and Nick Olds and Demarius Reed are the other top returning receivers. With most of last year's excellent run-blocking offensive line returning, the running game should be strong, and from game to game it could be Gillett, Javonti Greene, or Dominique Sherrer getting the bulk of the carries, with Ryan Brumfield, Tyler Allen, and freshman Juwan Lewis subbing in from time to time.

Defensively, there's been a fair bit of turnover. Across the whole season, it's probably safe to say that senior linebacker Justin Cudworth will be the top defender, but cornerback Marlon Pollard, and linebacker Bryan Pali are also worth keeping an eye on, as is sophomore safety Sean "Pudge" Cotton.

Punter Jay Karutz is also pretty good, but punting only gets you so far...

4. The MAC has become know for wild games on Thursday nights (#MACtion). Do you like having the national stage on an inconvenient night?

I'm not sure EMU has ever played a weeknight game — certainly not at home in the past five or six years — so we've experienced neither the inconvenient time nor the national spotlight that goes with it. I've seen arguments for and against, but as bad as EMU's home attendance has been, it could hardly hurt.

5. Which uniform combo do you think EMU will wear against MSU? You only have a ton to choose from! What are your feelings on the new uniform set?

The EMU blogosphere, including Hustle Belt, Eagle Totem, and the non-athletic EMU Talk, seems pretty well united in opposition to the gray uniforms, in any combination. However, I have read some enthusiastic opinions from some younger fans. For my part, I tend to be a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to pageantry, and I'd like to see EMU mostly stick with the school colors: green and white.

Thanks again to Carter for taking some time to answer some questions. We'll check back in with him during game week. Until then, make sure you check out Eagle Totem and Hustle Belt for all your EMU info.