BTP: The Colonels had a big victory over Valparaiso in week one. Was there anything in particular that you learned about the Colonels after that win, or is the jury still out?
AR: EKU did what it needed to do vs. Valpo. Even bigger than the scoreboard, the Colonels won big without relying on preseason OVC offensive player of the year and preseason FCS All-American RB Dy'Shawn Mobley. The former Kentucky Wildcat ran just 6 times for 7 yards. Expect to see a heavy dose of him in Raleigh.
BTP: Last year, EKU featured a very run-heavy offense. Can we expect to see that same offense this Saturday in Raleigh, or will the Colonels try to have a bit more of a balanced attack?
AR: EKU would love to be balanced. With the Pack likely stacking the box against the run to make QB Bennie Coney throw it coming off an allergic reaction that sidelined him for a bit last week, we'll see just how the Colonels throw it come kickoff. Eastern threw it 37 times vs. Valpo but I wouldn't expect that many attempts in Raleigh. EKU does have two big receivers in Jeff Glover (6'5") and Joel Brown (6'2") that should be able to make plays.
BTP: Speaking of rushing, last week NC State ran all over Troy, continuing the trend from the end of last season. How will EKU look to contain Matt Dayes?
AR: The Colonels hang their hat on defense. Former Wake Forest d-coordinator Dean Hood has a one-time 5-star recruit and former standout at Ohio State in Noah Spence at defensive end. He's FBS level talent and he'll make his presence known in a hurry. Look for NC State to double and get creative to keep Spence out of the backfield and make other guys make a play.
LB D'Vonta Derricott (a Kansas State transfer) led EKU with 8 tkls last week. He can make plays in the run game too.
BTP: EKU went 9-4 last year, and ended their season with a first round loss in the FCS playoffs. What's the expectation level for this season as far as wins and losses go, and will they make the FCS playoffs again?
AR: Expectations in Richmond never change, be the best in the OVC, and get into the playoffs. Eastern upset FBS Miami (OH) last year in Oxford. This weekend will be much different, but the returning guys have confidence they can compete against the top tier talent. The upset was just one of EKU's 6 FBS wins since 1979. This year is the year to not only get into the playoffs, but make some noise too. If not, it'll be a letdown in the win/loss column.
BTP: Who is the most important player on the team that will help EKU reach those expectations?
AR: Tough to pick just one. Football definitely is a team sport, but guys like Mobley, Spence and Cincy transfer Coney at QB will be key for the Colonels in 2015. There's a lot of excitement surrounding Adam Lane (Florida RB transfer) as well.
BTP: So who wins on Saturday?
AR: ACC vs. OVC. Don't count the Colonels out, that's what EKU is saying. But I think the wolf howls a few too many times for Eastern to get the win. NC State by a pair of TD's.
Many thanks to Alex for taking time out of his busy day to answer our questions. Give him a follow on Twitter at @AlexRisen. Also, a #specialshoutout goes to Richard Wilson for connecting me with Alex.