Sidelines with John Clay

Eastern Michigan has a quarterback who can make all the throws

Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback has completed 60 percent of his passes on the season as he leads EMU against Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at Kroger Field in Lexington.
Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback has completed 60 percent of his passes on the season as he leads EMU against Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at Kroger Field in Lexington. Associated Press

Eastern Michigan brings a road win over Rutgers and an accomplished quarterback to Kroger Field on Saturday when the Eagles take on Kentucky.

Brogan Roback, a 6-foot-3, 218-pound senior from Maumee, Ohio threw for 2,304 yards as a sophomore, then 2,694 more as a junior last season when he led EMU to a 7-6 record, including a trip to the Bahamas Bowl where it lost 24-20 to Old Dominion.

This season, Roback has completed 69 or 114 passes for 798 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions as Eastern Michigan is off to a 2-1 start, including a 16-13 win at Big 10 member Rutgers.

“I think he’s the best quarterback in the Mid-American Conference,” said Matt Shepard, the play-by-play voice of EMU. “I think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the Midwest.”

Franklin County fans might take issue labeling Roback the best quarterback in the MAC considering former Flyers’ star quarterback Logan Woodside has thrown for 11 touchdowns with just one interception for 3-1 Toledo.

But, Shepard said, Roback “can make every single throw. There were scouts at the game last week from NFL teams admitting to us that he can make every single throw and he can.”

“He’s a really, really talented kid,” UK defensive coordinator Matt House said Wednesday. “He gets the ball out fast. He throws those back-shoulder fades really well, makes their offense run.”

The Eagles lost 27-20 in two overtimes to Ohio last week. That followed a 24-7 opening-game win over Charlotte and the victory at Rutgers, it’s first ever win over a Power 5 conference school.

The Eagles, said Shepard, have won with a defense that creates turnovers, much like the UK defense. Eastern Michigan is tied for 21st nationally in turnover margin. Kentucky is tied for 14th.

The Eagles 2-10 in three straight seasons (2012-14) before a slip to 1-11 in 2015. Head coach Chris Creighton turned it around in 2016, his third year at the helm, when EMU got off to a 4-1 start on the way to its first bowl game since 1987.

Here’s more of my conversation with Shepard about the Eagles.

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EASTERN MICHIGAN AT KENTUCKY

When: Saturday, 4:00 p.m.

Where: Kroger Field in Lexington

TV: SEC Network with Dave Neal, Matt Stinchcomb and Dawn Davenport

Radio: UK Network with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel

UK Radio Network affiliates

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