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Eastern Kentucky vs. NC State: Colonels are a restoration in progress

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Kentucky is not used to losing, and in fact has been one of the most successful football programs at the FCS level. The Colonels have not accomplished much of anything in the modern era, though, and as a result they've become afterthoughts to a rising tide of northern powers.

To some extent there is good reason for that--this is not North Dakota State, by an means. While the Bison finished last year 32nd among all FBS/FCS teams in the Sagarin Ratings, EKU finished 157th, 10 spots below South Florida. The Colonels are good enough to make the FCS playoffs, which is something they're used to, but probably not deep enough to challenge for a title. Or put a genuine scare into a power-five program.

The Colonels were a run-heavy offense a year ago, carrying the ball 618 times opposite 364 pass attempts. That's a run percentage well over 60.0, even when removing sacks from the equation.

EKU Offense Yds/Play

Yds/Rush

Yds/Pass Att.

2014 5.4 4.6 6.8

Eastern Kentucky does not have a reliable passer, but it does at least have experience in Bennie Coney, who split reps with Jared McClain in 2014. Both threw for more than 1100 yards last season, but they also both finished with more interceptions than touchdown passes. Coney completed only 53.8 percent of his passes.

McClain is gone, so this is primarily Coney's show going forward. If his efficiency throwing the ball hasn't improved--and there is no reason to believe it has, even considering EKU's Week 1 woodshedding of Valparaiso--the Colonels are going to have a rough time against more talented defenses.

Still, the Colonels return leading receiver Jeff Glover, who is tall. They also return running back Dy'Shawn Mobley, who ran for more than 1,400 yards in 2014 but was limited in the team's 2015 opener because of a hamstring injury. There are parts here that are gonna bother a lot of teams, but skepticism about the quarterback's ability to bring it all together is warranted.

EKU Defense Opp. Yds/Play

Opp. Yds/Rush

Opp. Yds/Pass Att.

2014 5.3 4.0 6.4

If Eastern Kentucky's ground game is good enough to get the Colonels to the playoffs, then they need to be much better on this end to advance beyond the first weekend. To add a little spice to this matchup, Eastern picked up troubled defensive end Noah Spence during the offseason; Spence, who was a highly-touted recruit out of high school, is the son of NC State alum Greg Spence.

The Colonels were very good during the first week but they ain't found the litmus yet.