#16 Eastern Kentucky FCS Football 2012 Preview

Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Overall Rank: #16
#2 Ohio Valley
Eastern Kentucky FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Eastern Kentucky Team Page


Coach Dean Hood is very close to getting Eastern Kentucky back among the elite FCS programs in the nation. This is a school that only ranks behind Montana for most FCS playoff appearances. They added to that total last year by sneaking into the playoffs with a 7-5 record. Once there, they lost a close game to James Madison in the first round, but that was just a step to bigger and better things to come in 2012 and beyond. The Colonels claimed a share of the OVC title in 2011 and winning the conference will be the goal again this time around and this team has the talent and depth to do it.

2011 Record: (7-5, 6-2)
2011 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Dean Hood (26-20 at Eastern Kentucky, 26-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dane Damron
Defensive Coordinator: Tony Hatmaker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Matt Denham, RB, 1,570 yards
Passing: T.J. Pryor, QB, 1,605 yards
Receiving: Tyrone Goard, WR, 627 yards
Tackles: Ichiro Vance, LB, 86
Sacks: Shawn Shupperd, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Kevin Hamlin, LB, 4

Other Key Returnees: OT Aaron Adams, WR Cameron Bailey, CB Justin Bell, LB Anthony Brown, DT David Carter, C O.J. Enabosi, OT Patrick Ford, S Brooklyn Fox, DE Robert Knowles, TE Matt Lengel

Key Losses: DT Emory Attig, RB H.B. Banjoman, CB Jeremy Caldwell, S Patrick McClellan

The EKU offense has the potential to be extremely potent. In a rare mid-season switch, Coach Hood and staff pretty much moved from a spread offense to a pro style attack. That really threw opposing defenses for a loop and the Colonels thrived with their new look offense late in the year. However, the question becomes whether that offense will be more effective in 2012 because the EKU players have had time to adjust or if it will be less effective because the OVC has had time to adjust. One thing is for sure, this is a team that returns a ton of talent on offense. Running back Matt Denham did not begin the season as a starter, but he finished the season as one of the best rushers in the nation. He tallied 1,570 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback T.J. Pryor is always a threat to run as well, but that threat was slightly diminished with the new offense. Of course, he is still a mobile quarterback who can buy time when the pocket collapses. Pryor has been starting forever at EKU and will break some school records this year, but he will not put up huge numbers on a regular basis. The important statistic for Pryor is that in 2010 he threw 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Last year he boosted his touchdown total to 18 and his interception number fell to eight. With a deep and talented offensive line, led by tackles Aaron Adams and Patrick Ford and center O.J. Enabosi, the offense should be much more efficient and average more than 341.25 yards per game.

The consistency of the offense will be an issue again in 2012, but the major losses come on the defensive side of the ball. The pass defense was the team’s weak spot last year and the loss of safety Patrick McClellan and cornerback Jeremy Caldwell will not help matters. McClellan led the Colonels with 93 tackles and Caldwell recorded two interceptions and a team high seven pass breakups. Justin Bell is a very, very good corner and free safety Brooklyn Fox is a three-year starter, but replacing McClellan and Caldwell will likely have to be done by a couple relatively inexperienced sophomores. The other major loss to the defense is tackle Emory Attig. With his graduation and the move of David Carter to linebacker, there are some holes to fill. The end spots should be in good shape with Robert Knowles and Shawn Shupperd, but David Carter is the only experienced tackle. Virginia Tech transfer Courtney Prince is a player to watch, but hopes are also high for redshirt freshman Bryce Krebs. Either way, the line will not likely be as good against the run without Attig clogging the middle.

The Bottom Line:
But whatever weaknesses the opposition thinks they may be able to exploit on defense may be a moot point thanks to a great group of versatile linebackers. Ichiro Vance will be in the middle again after tallying 86 tackles a year ago. He will be flanked by Brown and Kevin Hamlin. Brown recorded 72 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles-for-loss from the end spot last year and should be a great fit at Eastern Kentucky’s sam linebacker position. He can still use his strength and agility to get to the quarterback, but coordinator Tony Hatmaker will have more options with blitz packages. While Brown helps out with the run defense, Hamlin will help out in the passing game. He led the team with four interceptions last season and has a knack for being around the ball. With Jacksonville State and Murray State coming to Richmond, Eastern Kentucky could be in the driver’s seat to win at least another share of the OVC title, but road trips to the Tennessee schools will not be easy and while Eastern Kentucky is improving, there are not many easy games on the schedule.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 196.00 (22nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 145.25 (108, 8)
Total Offense: 341.25 (72, 7)
Scoring Offense: 27.92 (47, 6)
Rushing Defense: 169.25 (83, 4)
Pass Defense: 220.83 (82, 7)
Total Defense: 390.08 (85, 3)
Scoring Defense: 23.33 (36, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.25 (6, 1)
Sacks: 1.67 (88, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.50 (80, 8)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#109 Benjamin Lawler
#126 Jon Floyd