Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
July 9, 2008The Eastern Kentucky Colonels have made a name for themselves over the years in Division I-AA, and especially in the Ohio Valley Conference. The colonel football program has a winning tradition in the OVC, and last year was no different. The Colonels finished 9-2 in the regular season, going undefeated in conference play. Their season ended in the first round of the Division I-AA tournament with a 31-14 loss to Richmond.
The Colonels will enter the 2008 season looking to continue a couple of impressive streaks. Eastern Kentucky is holding onto 12 consecutive conference victories and a very impressive streak of 30 consecutive winning seasons.
When the Bearcats open up their season, they will start it off against a team looking for some revenge. This game marks the second time in the last three seasons that these two schools, located just over 100 miles from each other, will play. It is also the just the second time these two programs have played each other in the 121 year history of Bearcat football. In the only meeting so far, the Bearcats shut out the Colonels in a 31-0 route to begin the 2006 campaign.
While most fans expect this "tune-up game" to go exactly as planned, the Colonels may have other ideas. The following will be a recap of Colonels season last year:
What Went Right
The first place you should look is the Colonel passing attack. The attack was led by then junior quarterback Allan Holland, who completed just over sixty percent of his passes for 1990 yards and 14 touchdowns, and gave the Colonels a reliable quarterback as he threw just four interceptions. His favorite targets were Kyle Barber and Quinton Williams. Barber led the team in catches with 42, while Williams had 38 grabs and led the team in yards (631), and touchdowns (8).
The rushing game also played its part for the Colonels. They were led by then senior running back Bobby Washington who carried 172 times for 1073 yards and 11 touchdowns. His most memorable performance came on an October 27th victory over Murray State in which he ran for 190 yards, including a 99 yard touchdown run.
The bright spot for the Colonel defense was its secondary. Derrick Huff led the team with an impressive 9 interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Zach Denton and Brandon Gathof followed suit, intercepting the quarterback five times each. Huff's most impressive performance came against Murray State, when he picked of the Murray State signal caller three times.
What Went Wrong
While the EKU offense was putting up just over 31 points a game, the defense was also allowing just over 24 points per contest. The number could have been a lot higher if not for blowouts over teams like Tennessee State and Southeast Missouri. When facing a high powered offensive team, the Colonel defense struggled to keep their team in the game. This was fairly evident in the Colonels season ending 31-14 loss to sixth-seeded Richmond in the first round of the Division 1-AA playoffs. The main source of the defensive struggles was in the trenches, where the EKU rush defense allowed opposing backs just over 194 yards per contest.
The Colonels also suffered from the like of a third receiving threat. After Barber and Williams, the next leading receiver was running back Bobby Washington, who caught for just over 250 yards. The lack of a third true receiving threat allowed defenses to put their focus solely on the Colonels number one and two targets.
Why This Year Will Be Different
Fans will most certainly see a new look Colonels team this season, as they are forced to replace 13 starters. Six of them are offensive and seven are defensive. They also have a first year head coach in Dean Hood, who takes over for former coach Danny Hope, who stepped down in order to join Purdue University as the Associate Head Coach.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Colonels will need to replace their two leading rushers along with their two leading receivers. The Colonels top returning running back, C.J. Walker, carried the ball just 40 times for 283 yards. The Colonels will need him to step up if they are going to be successful this season.
The other main concern for the Colonels is having to replace their top two receiving threats. Actually, top three if you include running back Bobby Washington, who was the teams' third leading receiver last season. Evan Cromer, who caught 25 balls for 233 yards last season, will be expected to fill a bigger role if the Colonels are going to continue to put up points.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Colonels do lose their top man in the secondary in Derrick Huff. However they do return both Zach Denton and Brandon Gathof. They also return to lineman, including top defensive end Chris Coy, but the rush defense will have to improve tremendously to give the Colonels a chance to continue both their impressive streaks and their dominance in the Ohio Valley Conference.