#31 Eastern Kentucky FCS Football 2022 Preview

Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Overall Rank: #31
 Eastern Kentucky Logo
Eastern Kentucky struggled in the shortened 2020 season while Walt Wells was trying to take over the program. Things got moving in the proper direction last year when the Colonels finished 7-4 overall. At one point EKU was sitting at 6-2 with losses to Louisville and Indiana State. The playoffs were very much in reach, but losses to Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, kept the Colonels out of the playoffs for now.
2021 Record: 7-4, 4-2
2021 Postseason: None
Coach: Walt Wells (10-10 at Eastern Kentucky, 10-10 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Andy Richman
Defensive Coordinator: Jake Johnson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Parker McKinney, QB, 596 yards
Passing: Parker McKinney, QB, 2,429 yards
Receiving: Dakota Allen, TE, 440 yards
Tackles: Matthew Jackson, LB, 102
Sacks: Matthew Jackson, LB, 3.5
Interceptions: Joseph Sayles, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Kyeandre Magloire, WR Jaden Smith, WR Jayden Higgins, WR Jyran Mitchell, OL Payton Collins, LB Eli Hairston, DL Kelton Dawson, DL TK McLendon, DL Shane Burks, K Patrick Nations
Key Losses: RB Da’Joun Hewitt, WR Matt Wilcox, LB Kyle Bailey, DB Davion Ross, DL Ubong Udom, DL Roland Walder, DL Quinten Floyd
Back in 2018 as a true freshman, Parker McKinney started the last two games of the season. When healthy, he has basically been starting ever since. Last year he set a school record with 229 completions and threw for 2,429 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also added 596 yards and six scores on the ground. Most of his favorite targets are back, including tight end Dakota Allen who caught 34 passes for 440 yards and a team high five touchdowns. The bigger concern is on the ground where Da’Joun Hewitt needs to be replaced. He rushed for 607 yards and seven trips to the end zone. Kyeandre Magloire is next in line after rushing for 232 yards on 56 carries in 2021.
Matthew Jackson will again be the leader of the defense after leading the Colonels with 102 tackles and 11.0 tackles-for-loss and adding 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups, six quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. The defensive front has a handful of experienced options returning, most notably Kelton Dawson, TK McLendon and Shane Burks. Losing ASUN Defensive Player of the Year Davion Ross will hurt the secondary, but the hope is Joseph Sayles can emerge as the leader of the unit and some less experienced players are ready to step into starting roles.
The Bottom Line:
Eastern Kentucky starts off the 2022 season with games against FBS opponents Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green. However, the games that will determine if EKU has a shot at winning the ASUN will not come until the last three weeks of the season. That is when they play Central Arkansas, Jacksonville State and Kennesaw State. If Coach Wells can fill those holes on the defensive side of the ball by that point, the Colonels will have an opportunity to get hot at the right time and win a conference title.
Projected Postseason:  None
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 135.1 (73rd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 228.2 (42, 4)
Total Offense: 363.3 (59, 5)
Scoring Offense: 27.6 (48, 5)
Rushing Defense: 141.5 (46, 3)
Pass Defense: 248.2 (97, 6)
Total Defense: 389.7 (76, 4)
Scoring Defense: 25.0 (43, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.27 (41, 3)
Sacks: 1.91 (69, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.27 (19, 2)