By Chris McGee
After winning a share of the Ohio Valley Conference 2011 championship, a 48-6 defeat at the hands of a former coach can’t be the start to the 2012 season the Colonels had envisioned.
Eastern (0-1, 0-0 OVC) traveled to West Lafayette, Ind. Saturday for a non-conference game against the Purdue Boilermakers (1-0 0-0 Big 10) and former Eastern coach, Danny Hope.
Senior running back Matt Denham said losing senior center O.J. Enabosi to academic ineligibility for the game definitely affected the outcome.
“The center position is one of the most important positions on the field next to the quarterback,” Denham said. “Jaggers [Austin, offensive lineman] did a great job for his first time starting, but there were just some things he didn’t know that O.J. would have. We lost a lot of experience when we lost Enabosi.”
Denham also said the team made some execution errors, which caused them to make mistakes.
Senior defensive back and OVC Defensive Player of the Week Brooklyn Fox said the game was a good barometer of the team’s caliber of play.
“This game allowed us to see where we stand as a team and to show us what we can do to get better,” Fox said.
Denham also said the Colonels didn’t capitalize on turnovers like they should have.
In addition to losing on the road, the Colonels also incurred some injuries in the game.
Junior tight end Matt Lengel sustained a knee injury. The severity of the injury isn’t known at this time, but Coach Dean Hood said he is scheduled to have an MRI done early this week. Senior wide receiver Tyrone Goard also suffered a concussion.
Hood also said senior quarterback T.J. Pryor should be ready to go for the Morehead State game.
“It just got too late in the week last week and Jared [McClain] had so many reps in him and was doing such a good job, and T.J. hadn’t had as many reps,” Hood said.
Hood added both quarterbacks would probably play this week because each one has a unique skill set and both know the whole offense.
The Colonels will attempt to put the week one loss behind them Saturday when they open their home schedule against Morehead State.
Morehead State (1-0, 0-0 PFL) comes into Saturday’s game on the heels of a 55-0 victory over Southern Virginia in its season opener on Aug. 30.
Denham said even though the Eagles aren’t in the Colonels division, it would be a mistake to overlook them.
“A BCS [Bowl Championship Series] team will overlook an opponent who isn’t in their division, and it ends up being a dogfight because they’re looking past them to the next game,” he said.
Coach Hood didn’t discount the importance of the next two games for the team.
“These next two games are critical because if you don’t win the conference you have to have some good non-conference wins. We need to get some ‘W’s’ under our belts before we begin conference play against Jacksonville, Sept. 22,” Hood said.
Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.