YPSILANTI – After last season, it was a sure thing Brogan Roback would be the starting quarterback as a sophomore for Eastern Michigan in 2014.
The former three-star pocket passer finished the year with four starts under his belt and had two promising showings. Against Toledo, he was 11 of 22 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while against Central Michigan, he was 14 of 27 for 139 yards, one TD and one pick.
However, first-year coach Chris Creighton said the starting job was all but Roback’s at the conclusion of Saturday’s spring game at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti.
As a mater of fact, he said it’s never going to be Roback’s job officially and that the Toledo native will continue to compete against the other quarterbacks for the position.
“The guys are always competing,” Creighton said. “It can be Game 5 of his senior year, and he’s going to be competing.
“(Roback) has run with the first group throughout the spring. He was a starter for us the last four games (of 2013), but at every position, we’re going to start whoever we think is going to make us best.”
Roback looked like the most comfortable quarterback playing in the spring game alongside redshirt freshmen Reggie Bell and Brandon Bossard.
He had success in the short and intermediate passing game and connected for a couple of tough passes when flushed out of the pocket.
At the same time, Bell looked just as good. As a dual-threat, the frosh was able to make plays with his feet and orchestrate the read-option attack. On the downside, he was limited passing and didn’t look as confident as Roback in the pocket. However, he did find tight end Cole Gardner wide open for a touchdown in the corner of the south end zone in the game.
If there is any kind of quarterback battle this fall, it’ll be between those two.
“(Roback) has got the most experience, and he’s a pretty good player,” Creighton said. “But Reggie is pretty good, too, and he brings a whole different element with running the ball.”
Bossard, on the other hand, looks poised to round out the depth chart. Despite throwing a touchdown strike to tight end Duwhan Alford in the third quarter, he was sacked on a couple of plays and wasn’t in complete control of the offense.
Regardless of which direction EMU goes at quarterback, Creighton said the best player will be on the field at all positions.
“We’re going to accentuate our strengths,” Creighton said. “We’ve got a great group of (running) backs, and the offensive line can be the backbone of our football team.
“We have young quarterbacks who I think can have the chance to be really good. We have a young receiving corps with only one guy going into his senior year.”
One spot on the roster where playing time is a nonfactor is tailback. Opposed to having one dominate runner, EMU will use a platoon with Bronson Hill, Juwan Lewis, Ryan Brumfield and Darius Jackson.
Hill was the bell cow for EMU last season, and during his three years at the school, he’s rushed 336 times for 2,006 yards and 11 touchdowns. His production shouldn’t wane in 2014 as he’ll be more refreshed among a rotation of strong backs.
Although Lewis only carried the ball twice last season, he got a majority of the workload during the spring game. He had several tough runs, including one that went over 50 yards to set up the offense for a field goal attempt in the red zone.
“Juwan has had a good spring, Bronson has had a good spring, and we have a great group of back,” Creighton said. “We’re deep there.”
Brumfield is a fourth-year player who will contribute, and Jackson was a player who broke out for the Eagles under Ron English. Jackson brings a counter of speed to the power that backs like Hill and Lewis use between the tackles.
“We’re going to accentuate our strengths,” Creighton said. “When we play the way that we want to play, we want to run the ball and throw it with equal proficiency.
“I haven’t seen the stats because I was on defense half the time, but I felt like there was some good offense and good defense, good running and some passing.”
EMU kicks off the 2014 season by hosting Morgan State on Saturday, Aug. 30.
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