By Lance Melching

The annual spring game has come and gone, and it has left me at once excited and unsatisfied.It’s a lot like the teaser trailer for a highly anticipated movie. The principle cast and storylines are introduced during a glimmer of the action that is to come in the blockbuster.

I can see myself settling into a cool dark theater as the projector cues up.

A deep gravely voice speaks over a picture Roy Kidd hoisting the 1979 national championship trophy:

“There was a time when a team of heroes reached the pinnacle of the football world.”

Fade in a picture of Danny Hope in uniform: “Amongst those heroes was an offensive lineman who, in time, would find his way home.”

Insert dramatic pause.

“Now, in his fourth season as head coach, Danny Hope charges into battle to regain the glory of a bygone era.”

Cue highlights from the spring game.

“This fall in Roy Kidd Stadium an all-star cast leads the Colonels in the quest of their 19th OVC Championship.

“OVC Offensive Player of the Year Josh Greco stars as quarterback and Patrick Bugg returns to the role that made him an All-American.”

Cue highlight of Bugg’s miraculous game-winning fourth-quarter catch against Southeast Missouri State.

“The star-studded cast includes All-OVC selections Sean Dumford, Mark Cristiani, Brandon Rosser, Cardius Dowell and Marcus Mayes.”

Insert highlights of huge hits with gratuitous slow motion and water droplets.

And as the trailer fades to black the audience is left with “Coming September 2006.”

September!?

But that’s still five months away!

I’m a member of Generation Y and I demand instant gratification!

I don’t know how I’ll wait, but in the meantime, I’ve compiled six things to get excited about for the coming season:

1. Explosive Offense

Next year’s team is going to get even more use out of the ROTC cannon than last year’s league-leading offense.

Every aspect of the offense should improve but especially the offensive line and running game.

Mark Dunn will be joined by playmakers Bobby Washington and C.J. Walker in the backfield and the O-line returns with greater experience, size and depth.

The scoring has the potential to be obscene with Greco under center and targets such as Bugg, Lewon Lurry and Quinton Williams returning.

2. Dream Schedule

A home schedule really doesn’t get much better than next season’s. Not a single home game conflicts with a holiday weekend and once again the Hilltoppers will be coming to town to start things off.

The schedule only gets better with the two most recent Ohio Valley Conference champs in Jacksonville State and Eastern Illinois making the trip to Richmond.

After that the Colonels will face in-state rival Murray State before closing the season with Tennessee State and its entertaining “Aristocrat of Bands.”

There isn’t a game to miss.

3. Cincinnati Showdown

Before the Colonels come home to the Kidd to kick off 2006, they’ll be challenging the Bearcats in Cincinnati.

Don’t expect this game to go down like N.C. State did last season just because Cincinnati is a I-A football program.

The Bearcats are beatable and struggled in a weak Big East last season.

Plus, the Colonels won’t be attempting the upset without help.They should be supported by a huge following of alumni who live in the greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.

4. Big Debuts

I’ve got at least three names for you that you’ll probably be intimately familiar with by the end of next season: C.J. Walker, Bobby Washington and Antwuan Molden.

Running back Walker red-shirted last season, but should line up in a variety of positions in this year’s offense.

He has the talent to explode out of the backfield or make things happen over the middle and down the sidelines.

Washington is a transfer from N.C. State and was one of the most highly recruited backs out of high school his senior year.

He has the moves to make defenders miss and should be an excellent complement to Dunn.

Molden is a transfer from Toledo and Coach Hope considers him “a super-talented guy.”

Hope went so far as to say that skills-wise, he is one of the most talented corners he has ever been around.

Don’t be surprised if Molden emerges as a lockdown corner this season.

5. Improved Defense

Expect the Colonels to improve upon last year’s third-place ranking in scoring defense.

The defensive line returns intact and a year older, and three of the team’s top four cornerbacks return.

Brandon Rosser should also anchor a talented group of linebackers.

6. New Uniforms

Two years ago, the Colonels debuted a new road uniform.

This season, the home uniforms and helmets get a similar makeover.

Expect the Colonels to come out against Cincinnati with helmets that reflect the new athletic emblem overhaul and against Western with a more modern set of maroon threads.

Last season, the Colonels finished second in the conference for the third consecutive year but demonstrated that they have been closing the gap.

This could be the season that it all comes together.

“If we can stay healthy, we have a chance to be better at every position on our team. Maybe not every man, but at every position,” Hope said.

I’m excited about this season. I’m just not sure how I’m going to wait for September.

Eastern Progress Question of the Week

This semester, The Eastern Progress sports section and EKUPride.com are teaming up to sponsor a question of the week. Each week a question will be posted in this column and readers will be encouraged to respond on the message board at ww.ekupride.com/forums.

This week’s question: Which club sport do you think Eastern should add as its next varsity program?

Reach Lance at
lance_melching@eku.edu