Eastern Michigan rolls into Champaign on the third week of the upcoming season. You’ll be excited to know that the game will be — at a minimum — exceedingly watchable. They Eagles are not chumps. With a decent defensive secondary and potential on offense, they’re a team that Illinois cannot afford to overlook. For the past two seasons, EMU has beaten a B1G team (Rutgers in 2017, Purdue in 2018). Let’s hope they don’t make it a third.
The Eagles will be led by returning dual-threat quarterback Mike Glass III. He played in eight games last year, passing for 1024 yards on 117 completions, nine passing touchdowns, one interception, and on the ground, he ran for 412 yards on 71 attempts with 6 touchdowns. He’s a good quarterback for the MAC level and Illinois will definitely spend much of its preparation time studying.
But keep an eye out for his new top receiving target. Arthur Jackson III is a 6-foot-nothing, 194-pound senior wide receiver from Oakland, California. He’s got speed that some of the defensive backs on the Illini aren’t going to be able to match. He put up 592 receiving yards on 46 receptions last season, including five touchdowns.
The biggest part of Jackson’s game though will be the indicator for how good Glass and the rest of the offense will be throughout the day. The Illini’s strength on defense this year will be the secondary. If EMU’s best receiver is causing the Illini defense to back off in order to prevent the deep pass, it’ll allow the running game of Glass and senior RB Shaq Vann room to make yardage. Even if the game ends and Jackson only has three receptions, he is going to affect this game just by how he causes the defensive backs to adjust. He’s a threat and the Illini will treat him as such.
Also, it should be noted that Jackson and Glass seem to be on the same page more often than not. Of the eight games that Glass played in last season, half of them had more than ten passing attempts. In those four games, Jackson had 272 yards receiving on 14 catches, including four touchdowns; in the other games, Jackson had 329 yards on 42 catches. That’s a significant difference in yards per catch: 19.4 to 10.0.
Highlight videos are a little difficult to get the full picture — they’re all the good stuff, absolutely none of the bad stuff, and most importantly, none of the in-between. Just watching this four-minute video isn’t going to give you a full understanding of Arthur Jackson III. It might give you an idea. He’s fast enough. He can jump fairly high. And he can make a few vital down-field blocks. Just like Glass, Jackson is a good MAC level player. And that kind of player can give a B1G team problems on a Saturday afternoon in September.