1. What does Dy’Shawn Mobley do for an encore?
In his first year after transferring from Kentucky, running back Mobley lit up the Ohio Valley Conference. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound bruiser ran for 1,491 yards and 20 touchdowns and was named first-team All-OVC. Entering his senior year, the Powell, Tenn., product will be the focus of every defense EKU faces. Mobley figures to be especially motivated Oct. 6, when Eastern visits Commonwealth Stadium to face his old team.
2. How big an impact will Ohio State transfer Noah Spence have on the Eastern defense?
Once a five-star OSU recruit out of Harrisburg, Pa., Spence was a first-team All-Big Ten defensive end in 2013 after recording eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. However, what media reports said were two failed drug tests led to the Big Ten suspending Spence indefinitely and the 6-3, 255-pounder missed the 2014 season. Rather than enter his name in the NFL draft, Spence chose to transfer to EKU of the Football Championship Subdivision where he could play immediately. A player of Spence’s talent level should be able to wreak havoc in the OVC — if he can stay on the field.
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3. What kind of quarterback play will EKU get?
In going 9-4 in 2014, Eastern used a two-headed QB system with veteran Jared McClain and Cincinnati transfer Bennie Coney sharing the position. McClain’s eligibility has expired but Coney (1,185 yards passing and seven TDs in 2014) returns. Junior Kyle Romano, who started one game in 2013 but missed last year with a knee injury, and redshirt freshman Tyler Swafford pushed Coney throughout the spring for the No. 1 job. It would take a lot of pressure off Mobley if Eastern could raise its level of quarterback play in 2015.
4. Will Eastern survive a brutal schedule?
Eastern Kentucky plays more road (six) than home (five) games in 2015. Of the three teams expected to vie for the OVC championship — Jacksonville State, Eastern Illinois and EKU — the Colonels play the other two on the road. If that were not enough challenge, Eastern will play not one but two FBS Power Five conference foes on the road, at North Carolina State (Sept. 12) and UK (Oct. 6). Whatever Coach Dean Hood’s Colonels achieve in 2015, it will be done the old-fashioned way — earning it.
5. Is this the year EKU gets back to winning playoff games?
For those who remember the heyday of the Roy Kidd era, it is hard to fathom that the Colonels have not won a playoff game since 1994. Yet after winning eight of the first 10 FCS playoff games in which it competed — and the 1979 and ’82 national championships — Eastern has gone 8-17 in playoff games since 1983. The Colonels have lost seven postseason games in a row, including last year’s 36-16 shellacking by Indiana State in Richmond. Suffice to say, the yearning among Colonels backers for a playoff run to restore the tradition of Eastern Kentucky football is strong.