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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Last non-conference game of the season

Zac BonDurant

ASU’s 2022 Football Schedule

9/1: vs. NAU

9/10: @ #12 Oklahoma State

9/17: vs. Eastern Michigan

9/24: vs. #7 Utah

10/1: @ #14 USC

10/8: vs. Washington

10/22: @ Stanford

10/29: @ Colorado

11/5: vs. UCLA

11/12: @ Washington State

11/19: vs. Oregon State

11/25: @ Arizona


The 2022 college football season is under a week away from kickoff, and for ASU, just 10 days away. The Sun Devils went through camp this year fitting together new pieces of a half-completed puzzle.

Along with tough matchups, there are games in this schedule ASU needs to capitalize on in order to qualify for a bowl game. Eastern Michigan fits the bill perfectly.

Sizing up the Eagles

The Eastern Michigan Eagles of the Mid-American Conference are looking to get back to a bowl game after earning a spot in the LendingTree Bowl against Liberty last season with a 7-6 record. They lost pretty convincingly by a score of 56-20.

To gauge just how competitive this week three matchup will be for ASU, let’s do a little reconnaissance on the opponent at hand.

Starting with the offense

EMU’s offensive attack over the past few seasons has been through the air. Quarterbacks Ben Bryant and Preston Hutchinson both graduated in the spring, leaving that spot open to fill on the roster.

Enter, Taylor Powell

Powell, who is going into his senior season, started out as a backup under Drew Lock for Missouri in 2018 after redshirting his freshman year the season prior. In 2019, Powell played in six games for Mizzou, posting one TD and two INTs at a 47% completion rate. He sat out in 2020, and then re-emerged in 2021 at Troy for six games before getting injured against South Carolina. His numbers significantly improved, passing for 1,250 yards and seven touchdowns at a 66% clip.

This summer, Powell decided to transfer to EMU to serve as their starter.

Powell’s group of receivers is the strongest and most experienced part of their offense. Returners from last season such as Hassan Beydoun, Dylan Drummond, Dennis Smith, I’Shawn Stewart and Dylan Summers will give Powell plenty of options.

Beydoun and Drummond seem to be the biggest threats on the outside for the Eagles, with 1,700 yards and 10 touchdowns between the two in 2021. Their primary tight end, Gunner Oakes, is their most experienced on the roster, but doesn’t pose much of a threat down the field.

The run game for EMU is arguably their kryptonite. The Eagles were at the bottom of the MAC rankings for rushing yards per game, averaging just 118 yards. Darius Boone Jr. and Samson Evans are returning as the teams’ most experienced backs, but they did land transfer Sebastian Toland from Northern Michigan to help spark that aspect of their offense.

Onto the Defense

This is where Arizona State can really apply the pressure. Last season, Eastern Michigan was eighth in the MAC allowing 430 yards and close to 30 points per game to opposing offenses. They also gave up close to 200 rushing yards, and 233 passing yards per game.

Although these numbers aren’t the greatest, they will have a veteran presence between the hash marks up front and in the second level. Linemen Alex Merritt and Jose Ramirez are two big bodies in the trenches that can stop the run, with Ramirez as the leader with 12 tackles for loss last season. Linebacker Tariq Speights is one of their best players. He led the team with 89 tackles in 2021 and looks to be their big-bopper coming up the middle.

On the outside, Kempton Shine and Jarrett Paul are the Eagles’ most athletic corners. Shine had 47 tackles and three passes defended, while Paul had 46 tackles and a forced fumble.

Wrap it up

Eastern Michigan will travel to Tempe hoping their athleticism can stack up against the playmakers ASU has either developed through the years or brought in during the offseason.

EMU can make this game competitive if they establish their running game to play off of with their talented set of wide receivers and shiny new QB Taylor Powell. Along with that, if their front four can stifle ASU’s running attack early, it could be quite the contest for Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils.

It shouldn’t be very close, but Eastern Michigan has some talent on their roster that has the ability to make it a very interesting game on September 17th.