For just the fourth time in the last 53 years, EKU football has a new coach in Mark Elder. Is he the right man to put the Colonels back on top of the OVC? Three reasons his team could win a conference title in his first year:
1. EKU has the best kind of quarterback battle
There are two reasons to have a quarterback battle heading into the season: Neither QB is all that good, or both signal callers are.
EKU is in the latter category.
They return senior quarterback Bennie Coney, a Cincinnati transfer who was 12th in FCS a year ago with 23 passing touchdowns, throwing for 2,471 yards. His competition? Former Mizzou QB Maty Mauk, (pictured above) a talented competitor looking for a fresh start after three suspensions and a drug controversy ushered his exit from the SEC school. (Mauk has denied using the drugs in the video unearthed in January)
There are two reasons to have a quarterback battle
Who has the inside edge? According to CBS St. Louis, Elder heavily recruited Mauk while a UC assistant. But, Elder actually succeeded in getting Coney to Cincinnati, and was a RB and TE coach at UC for Coney’s freshman season.
In Mauk’s corner, he has more on the field experience against tougher competition. In Coney’s, he participated in spring practices with the club, while Mauk didn’t join the team until May. For a team making a coaching (and an offensive system) change, that additional time could be a huge edge.
2. Colonels’ special teams are quite special
Devin Borders is a talented wide-out, but the two-way player has made his name on defense. The speedster has blocked four field goals and a pair of punts in the past two years, and his 12 total career blocked kicks is an OVC record, and five off the all-time FCS record.
…and that’s not all. The Colonels also boast the only kicker and punter named to the preseason all-OVC squad, in Lucas Williams and Keith Wrzuszczak (this will be misspelled at some point this season…) respectively. Williams led the league in FG per game, and his 78.6% performance was second best in the league. Wrzuszczak was second in the league in punt average a year ago.
3. EKU’s rushing attack likely to take a big step forward
The Colonels finished fifth in rushing a year ago — but they were well behind the top-tier of schools, averaging just 3.6 yards per rush. But late in the year, it appears they found the solution in then-freshman Ethan Thomas. Thomas played in nine games, and led the team with 498 yards on the ground. But it’s his 6.1 average per rush that’s such a great sign for a big year: that average was second among eligible rushers.
Thomas will be rushing behind preseason all-OVC selection Justin Adekoya at left tackle.