Eastern Michigan Eagles-Michigan State Spartans Q&A With “Eastern Echo” Managing Editor Al Willman


The Eastern Michigan Eagles will make the trip up I-96 to East Lansing to face the No. 11 Michigan State Spartans in their final non-conference game of the season.

I was joined by Eastern Michigan’s student-run newspaper, “Eastern Echo” managing editor and Detroit News stringer Al Willman as we discuss the biggest questions regarding the Eagles’ first game against an AP Top 25 opponent this season.

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Eastern Michigan is 1-2 heading into their matchup with Michigan State, following two back-to-back road loses. What are your initial thoughts with this team?

The Eagles are rebuilding this year, with a new coach and a revolving door at quarterback. I think the run game is the strongest. Senior Bronson Hill (42 carries, 192 yards) is the star at that position. He rushed for 1,101 yards last year.

Michigan State is ranked 2nd in the FBS in rushing defense and 3rd in passing defense. What must Eastern Michigan do to create any noise offensively?

They need to find creative ways to get Hill the ball (screens, line him up in the slot a la Reggie Bush). He’s the best part of the offense.

Redshirt senior Rob Bolden will make his first career start for the Eagles. How well will he perform this week against an aggressive MSU defense?

I think he’ll do alright. He does a good job scrambling when the pocket folds, but I’m concerned with his ability to hold on to the ball. He’s lost a couple of fumbles already this season.

Michigan State has a future first round quarterback in Connor Cook and a talented wide receiver corp that includes Tony Lippett Jr. How do you feel Eastern Michigan matches up defensively? 

That’s my biggest concern. Cook is, in my opinion, the best QB in the B1G – the EMU secondary is prone to the big play.

Who are the big name players on Eastern’s roster that Michigan State should keep an eye on?

Aside from Hill, look for Pudge Cotton (S/LB) and Great Ibe (LB). Ibe is the team’s biggest playmaker (33 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks).

Any significant injuries for Eastern Michigan that’ll come back to haunt them this week? 

OT Andrew Wylie is doubtful (knee) and LB Ike Spearman is out with an injury.

Is it appropriate for Michigan State to be considered a 45 point favorite?

I think that number is a little high, but after Florida scored 65 against the Eagles two weeks ago, I understand it.

In 2012, Eastern led 7-3 over MSU at halftime on the road. Could a potential upset occur this week or are the Spartans too talented?

I talked about that today on my podcast. I think the possibility exists, but I don’t see that happening. MSU is too good.

Why Eastern Michigan will lose on Saturday?

MSU will simply be too much.

Why Eastern Michigan will win on Saturday

If Eastern pulls off the major upset, it will be because Bronson Hill has the game of his life.