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Opponent Preview - Eastern Kentucky

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This FCS team might not be a cupcake

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

2014 Schedule & Results

@ Robert Morris W 29-10
@ Miami Ohio W 17-10
Morehead St W 55-13
@ UT Martin W 49-24
@ Austin Peay W 31-0
Eastern Illinois W 36-33 OT
@ Tenn Tech L 31-39
SE Missouri St W 33-21
@ Tenn St W 56-42
Jacksonville St L 6-20
Murray St W 43-36
@ Florida L 3-52
Indiana St L 16-36

Overview

Head coach Dean Hood’s Eastern Kentucky Colonels are coming off a fairly successful 2014 campaign, which saw them finish second in the Ohio Valley, and earn an at-large birth in the FCS playoffs. They finished off the season with a 9-4 record and a first round exit in the playoffs at the hands of Indiana State. They went 1-1 in their battles against FBS squads, with a 17-10 win over Miami Ohio and a 52-3 beatdown loss at Florida. Thankfully, they are the only FCS team on the Pack’s schedule (remember when we played Murray State and Gardner-Webb? Why did we do that?), but by no means does that mean that the Colonels will be a pushover. They’ll be ranked in the FCS top-25, and contend for the Ohio Valley title, which they have won twice already under Coach Hood. The last time State played EKU, the result was 54-10 home victory for the Pack in 2005.

EKU has done well in the transfer game as of late, and it’s helping their program reach the next level. The acquisition of Dy’Shawn Mobley from Kentucky was huge, and the running back could be a problem for the Pack’s defense. He was nine yards shy of hitting the 1,500 yard mark last season, and was responsible for twenty-one touchdowns. Athlon Sports listed Mobley as a first-team FCS All-American, and he was voted as the Ohio Valley preseason offensive player of the year by the coaches, which he won the previous year. To summarize, he is good. Two preseason all-conference offensive linemen anchor the Colonels rushing attack that averaged 220.5 yards per game. State’s defense had some struggles at times last year against the run, so they can’t afford to overlook EKU’s running game. The quarterback position for the Colonels will likely also be filled by a FBS transfer. Junior Bennie Coney, a Cincinnati transfer, shared starting time last year with the now graduated Jared McClain. He threw for over a thousand yards last year and seven touchdowns, and will likely be under center when the Colonels come to Raleigh. His targets will be a pair of 6’4"wide receivers named Devin Borders and Jeff Glover. These two experienced wideouts headline a receiving corps that returns most everyone.

Just like it’s offense, the Eastern Kentucky defense has some transfers that can be difference makers. D’Vonta Derricott will play his first year at EKU after transferring from Kansas State. Derricott was a sought after junior college recruit, who committed to K-State, but will end up playing linebacker for the Colonels. He will likely backup veteran linebackers Trey Thomas, Marquise Piton and leading tackler Chris Kelly. The other major transfer of note is defensive end Noah Spence. Spence may sound familiar because he was a five-star recruit and an All-Big Ten player in 2013. Truthfully, I have no clue which side of the line Spence plays on, but the potential of him matching up with redshirt freshman left tackle Tyler Jones is worrisome. Spence is good enough to be a big problem for the Pack’s offensive line, and he will need to be contained. In the secondary, all-conference selection Stanley Absanon is the name to know. The defense as a whole gave up a somewhat average 25.8 points per game last year against it’s FCS schedule. The Florida game is a very small sample size for how they did against power-five schools, but the Colonels gave up fifty-two points to a Gators team that ranked ninety-third in total offense.

This team might actually be better than Troy. State will be a large favorite and should take care of business if they have their head on straight come game day, but the Pack cannot afford to overlook an Eastern Kentucky team that has some serious weapons.