RICHMOND — A day Eastern Kentucky running back Dy'Shawn Mobley has been looking forward to for months might pass by with him on the sideline.
Mobley, who spent two seasons at the University of Kentucky, missed EKU's 51-13 victory over Austin Peay last weekend and was not listed on the Colonels' depth chart Monday.
A nagging hamstring injury limited Mobley — the reigning Ohio Valley Conference offensive player of the year — to 38 yards on just 13 carries over the first two games of the season.
EKU Coach Dean Hood said Mobley missed much of fall camp and didn't look like himself during the season opener against Valparaiso, then tweaked his hamstring at North Carolina State the following week.
He didn't play at all against Austin Peay coming off an open date the week before, and Hood made no promises as to his star running back's status for Saturday's game at UK.
"We'll see how he looks out there (in practice)," Hood said. "It's kind of a double-edged sword. You have to take him out to get him healthy, but then he's not in shape. And when you're not in shape, you have the possibility of re-injuring something.
"So, right now, it's just trying to get over that hump."
Freshman Ethan Thomas and Florida transfer Adam Lane were listed 1-2 at running back on the depth chart released Monday.
Mobley, who played sparingly in his two seasons at UK, ran for 1,491 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last year for the Colonels.
He hasn't been shy about his eagerness to return to Commonwealth Stadium, and EKU quarterback Bennie Coney expects to see him on the field Saturday if there's any way he can go.
"I know it means a lot to him," Coney said. "I know he wants to play a lot. I don't know if he's physically available to play this week, but I know he's (mentally) ready to get back out there. He has a little fire under his butt.
"I just know he's ready to go."
EKU defensive end Noah Spence is back on the field for the first time in nearly two years, and the reviews so far have been positive.
Spence was an all-Big Ten selection as a sophomore at Ohio State in 2013, starting 13 games and finishing second in the league with eight sacks. His career with the Buckeyes was derailed by off-the-field issues, and he landed in Richmond earlier this year for a second chance.
Through three games, Spence leads the Colonels with three sacks, five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Hood called Spence a "phenomenal pass rusher" but said the EKU coaching staff challenged him to step up his run defense after the first two games. He responded with a team-high eight tackles and two tackles for loss against Austin Peay last week.
"To be a great player, you have to be an every-down player," Hood said. "He had his best football game of being disciplined and physical in the run game and still being an aggressive, explosive pass rusher.
"I was really pleased with how much he improved."
No bad blood
Hood doesn't expect the off-the-field altercations between UK and EKU players earlier this year to play any role in Saturday's game.
"It's about the game, and our guys need to be focused on the game," he said. "And I'm sure Kentucky's focused on the game. They're not focused on something that happened back in the spring and shouldn't be. It's something that shouldn't have happened. There's been discipline in place because it happened.
"We're all sorry for it, I'm sure they're sorry for it, and it's about playing a college football game. It's not about that nonsense."
Colton Scurry — one of the Colonels involved in the offseason altercations with UK players — was listed at No. 2 on EKU's depth chart at the center position Monday after starting the first three games of the season. Freshman Z Stephenson is listed as the No. 1 center.
Patrick Graffree — a former UK player who was also involved in one of the offseason altercations — is listed as a No. 2 defensive tackle on the EKU depth chart.