Eastern Kentucky preview capsule

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – Ohio Valley Conference member Eastern Kentucky is one of 15 FCS programs (out of 127 overall) that have announced it will play at least one nonconference game this fall. Due to coronavirus concerns, the OVC postponed its conference schedule until a potential spring season.

LOCATION: Richmond, Kentucky

STADIUM: Roy Kidd Stadium

HEAD COACH: Walt Wells (first season)

2019 RECORD: 7-5, 5-3 OVC (4th)

2020 FALL SCHEDULE: at Marshall (Sept. 5), at West Virginia (Sept. 12), at The Citadel (Sept. 26), Central Arkansas (Oct. 10), at Troy (Oct. 17), at Central Arkansas (Oct. 31), Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 7), Western Carolina (Nov. 21)

PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (7 offense/4 defense)

3 KEY RETURNEES: RB Alonzo Booth, RT Tucker Schroeder, CB Josh Hayes

BIGGEST SHOES TO FILL: DT Aaron Patrick

OUTLOOK: Eastern Kentucky (two FCS titles, 21 playoff appearances) hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2014, but it made progress with seven wins in each of former coach Mark Elder’s final two seasons. Wells was an assistant in the program from 1997 to 2002 and in 2015. Competition for starting spots has been fierce, with QB Parker McKinney (116 of 221, 1,371 yards, 7 TDs, 9 INTs) challenged by redshirt juniors Dakota Allen and Kaymen Cureton, a Nevada transfer. WR Keyion Dixon, who played two seasons at UConn, led the team in receptions (34) and receiving yards (497) in his first campaign with the Colonels. Despite losing OVC rushing champ Darryl McClesky Jr., running back is experienced with Alonzo Booth (673 yards, 14 TDs). The defense lost its top four tacklers, including Patrick, the OVC defensive player of the year. The unit allowed just 119 rushing yards per game to rank second in the OVC and 15th in the FCS. While the secondary was hit by senior losses, it has retooled with SS T.J. Comstock back from injury and Daulsen Fitzpatrick shifting from linebacker to free safety to join Hayes. South Carolina grad transfer Alex Woznick steps in at place-kicker. The schedule is difficult through Halloween, and if it all comes off, Eastern Kentucky would walk away from an OVC spring schedule.

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