EKU football season preview

Running back Daryl McCleskey runs up the field for a touchdown against Valpo. last season in Richmond. 

Eastern Kentucky University football ended their season last year with an overall record of 7-5. This season they are playing under new head coach Walt Wells, who is eager to begin the season.

In the annual media day via Zoom on Thursday, Aug. 27 Wells said, “It’s been great being back at EKU and I'm looking forward to this season.”  

When the Ohio Valley Conference announced that the season would be postponed until the spring, EKU made the decision to opt out and play eight non conference games this fall. The schedule that is set for the team will be a challenge, but Wells and his players are ready. 

“I thought the spring would be a difficult situation for our young men,” Wells said.

Wells stated that with the help of the athletics director and president, they were able to put together a schedule for this season, but it will be the toughest schedule in EKU football history.

“Marshal you’ve got an old rivalry, Troy you’ve got a Sunbelt situation and West Virginia is a game you want to play once a year… then the powerhouses you’ve got in FCS,” Wells said.

EKU and Marshall met each season from 1985 to 1992. Marshall leads the all-time series against Eastern, 11-8-1.

EKU is 4-7-1 in games played in Huntington. The most recent meeting came in 2018 when Marshall won 32-16 in Huntington.

This will be Wells first football season as the EKU head coach but the circumstances due to COVID-19 have not held him back from having his first season. Although he said the biggest challenge has been getting to have more time with the team in person.

“The biggest struggle is over spring break when we found out we weren’t coming back, we hadn’t had the chance to interact and get to know those players,” Wells said.

Wells explained that they are still making decisions as to who will play as quarterback for this upcoming season but will have a decision before their first game on Saturday.

“Parker McKinney is in a quarterback battle right now but we should come out with a decision on Monday or Tuesday,” Wells said. 

The team this season is made up of many younger players, including 37 freshmen.

“They are talented players we feel like,” Wells said.

Two defensive players who missed most of the 2019 season with injuries – defensive back TJ Comstock and defensive lineman Elijah Taylor – are back for the 2020 season.

The Thundering Herd were 8-5 during the 2019 season and lost to Central Florida in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 23.

Eastern is set to play their first game of the season on Sept. 5 at Marshall University. Kick off is set for 1 p.m. in Huntington, W.V. The game will be aired live on ESPN.

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