Turnovers became the talking point on both sides after EKU’s dominant performance against the University of Pikeville on Sept. 8.
The smaller NAIA rival turned the ball over eight times, destroying the momentum they had built up in the first two quarters and allowing Eastern the chance to open the game up further.
While the Colonels controlled the game, newly appointed starter Tyler Swafford had one interception and the offense fumbled the ball twice, with UPike recovering both of them.
Though the turnovers did not affect the outcome of the game, silly mistakes can and will be detrimental against upcoming OVC rival Jacksonville State and next week’s FBS foe Ball State University.
The Mid-American Conference team plays a much more difficult schedule over the season, and was primed for a second half comeback against a bigger Indiana team in their last week of play, falling 30-20.
Ball State will not be as difficult a competitor as Purdue, but EKU will have to show discipline in order to be in contension in the final minutes.
As Coach Elder has said throughout many pre-FBS game interivews, the team does not just want a moral victory–EKU wants to win.
“Ball State is a very good football team,” Elder said in an interview with CN2. “We’ve got a challenge on both sides of the ball.”
And hopefully, the Colonels will be up to the challenge as both Maty Mauk and Bennie Coney are expected to return Saturday.
Running back Ethan Thomas is also expected back, adding more depth to an already talented offensive side led by R-Sr Jared Sanders with 260 total yards.
While EKU’s quarterback position is expected to be rotated between possible starters, Ball State is stable with true freshman Riley Neal leading the charge.
With a strong line and secure spot, Neal has 361 passing yards, 1 TD and 47 rushing yards on the year while Ball State’s veteran defense has shown immense talent both during the Georgia State win and Indiana loss.
Led by Kiante Northington, the Colonel defense will have to pressure the Cardinals in the beginning of the game, something both Georgia State and Indiana did successfully, in order to pull momentum.
For defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix and co-defensive coordinator Shannon Morrison, the Cardinal offense should not be too difficult to read as both had stints at Ball State during their careers, with Mattix coaching the Cardinals as recently as last year.
Though hopes are high, nothing is certain until the clock hits 0:00 on Saturday night. The game can be watched on ESPN3 or listened to during the live radio broadcast in the Richmond area on WCYO 100.7 FM. Live stats can be found on EKUSports.com.