#23 Eastern Kentucky FCS Football 2015 Preview

Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Overall Rank: #23
#3 Ohio Valley

Eastern Kentucky Team Page#23 Eastern Kentucky FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Eastern Kentucky Football Tickets

Eastern Kentucky is coming off of a big year in which they reached the playoffs. In week two, the Colonels knocked off FBS member Miami (OH) by a score of 17-10. They lost a couple conference games to Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State, and were defeated easily by Florida in the regular season finale, but a 9-3 record overall was certainly good enough to reach the playoffs. EKU basically fell apart in the second half of their opening playoff game against Indiana State, losing 36-16. There is a lot of talent returning though and this time around Coach Dean Hood and company might be able to make more of a game of it in the playoffs.

2014 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2014 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Dean Hood (49-33 at Eastern Kentucky, 49-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dane Damron
Defensive Coordinator: Dean Hood

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dy’Shawn Mobley, RB, 1,491 yards
Passing: Bennie Coney, QB, 1,185 yards
Receiving: Jeff Glover, WR, 746 yards
Tackles: Kiante Northington, DB, 84
Sacks: Marquise Piton, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Stanley Absanon, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR Devin Borders, OL Brett Eyckmans, OL Trey Shelton, P Keith Wrzuszczak, LB Chris Kelly, LB Trey Thomas

Key Losses: QB Jared McClain, RB J.J. Jude, K Andrew Lloyd, DB Brandon Stanley, LB Tyrelle Johnson, DB Theron Norman

Eastern Kentucky’s offense begins with running back Dy’Shawn Mobley. He rushed for 1,491 yards and 20 touchdowns during his junior season. Behind a strong offensive line, led by Brett Eyckmans and Trey Shelton, Mobley should be one of the top rushers in the FCS again in 2015. The defense had some tough outings last season, especially the secondary, but with eight starters back and a couple big transfers, the unit should be much improved. It starts up front where former First Team All-Big Ten lineman Noah Spence adds a bit of spice to a unit that ranked sixth in the OVC in sacks. Back in 2013, Spence led Ohio State with 8.0 sacks. D’vonta Derricott, a transfer from Kansas State, joins an experienced group of linebackers that includes Marquise Piton, Chris Kelly and Trey Thomas. The secondary must replace Brandon Stanley and Theron Norman, but Kiante Northington is the team’s top returning tackler with 84 and Stanley Absanon picked off four passes.

If the pass defense can improve, the one thing potentially stopping Eastern Kentucky from competing for an OVC title is the quarterback play. Bennie Coney started eight games under center in his first season with the Colonels after spending some time at Cincinnati. He led the squad with 1,185 yards and seven passing touchdowns, but completed just 53.8 percent of his attempts and threw nine interceptions. The efficiency must improve if the offense is going to be dynamic enough to beat the top teams in the conference. Kyle Romano returns from injury to be Coney’s backup and potentially take over should things go bad. Jeff Glover and Devin Borders were the top two receivers last season and will likely be so again in 2015. Another thing to watch out for on offense is who emerges as the backup to Mobley. Jared Sanders, who had just 21 carries as a sophomore, is the most experienced returning back behind Mobley. The backup does not need to get too many carries, but even a workhorse like Mobley needs a break every once in a while.

The Bottom Line:
Once again Eastern Kentucky plays two FBS opponents. But this time neither is winnable with early season trips to North Carolina State and Kentucky. But the more unfortunate scheduling comes in conference play. The Colonels must travel to Jacksonville State on October 31st and Eastern Illinois on November 21st. Those are probably going to be the best two teams in the league. That gives EKU four extremely difficult road trips. They will need to be certain to hold serve at home against the likes of Tennessee Tech, who beat EKU last year, and Tennessee-Martin, who boasts one of the strongest defenses in the league.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 220.5 (18th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 189.2 (85, 7)
Total Offense: 409.8 (41, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.2 (40, 5)
Rushing Defense: 142.9 (32, 2)
Pass Defense: 272.0 (112, 9)
Total Defense: 414.9 (81, 5)
Scoring Defense: 25.8 (54, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (45, 1)
Sacks: 1.46 (98, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (63, 8)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#85 Noah Spence


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