Eastern Kentucky University football will be facing an old FCS rival Troy University this Saturday in Alabama after a tough loss at home against Houston Baptist on Oct. 3, 33-30.
EKU has not played against Troy since 1997. The teams first met in 1978, with Troy beating the Colonels, 16-10 in Alabama. The two teams met several more times including EKU beating the Trojans, 15-0 at Roy Kidd Stadium in 1979, eventually Troy won again in 1996, 40-38.
“The first few days of practice we were able to concentrate on us… then we were able to get a lot of the young guys who haven’t had much playing time some scrimmage opportunities,” head coach Walt Wells said. “We worked on fundamentals, eye control and tackling…”
The Colonels had a bye week this past week and were able to prepare for the upcoming game but it also gave the team a chance to rest.
“It’s starting to wear and tear, with midterms going on and everything else, it’s starting to wear on them mentally, so I wanted to give them some time off this weekend,” Wells said.
Wells said that he does not plan to do anything differently on offense or defense, but plans to focus on other aspects within that.
“We want to not turn the ball over and make turnovers… we will continue to work in our same system and tweak it each week depending on our opponent,” Wells said.
Wells said that mentally he wants his team to focus on each play instead of the scoreboard and focus on their jobs individually.
“I try to preach that the scoreboard is not our opponent… you have to play the play you are playing... when that plays over you have to worry about the next and when they do that, they seem to be more successful,” Wells said.
Quarterback Parker McKinney ranks third in FCS football with eight passing touchdowns.
After recording his first 100-yard rushing game of the season against Houston Baptist, running back Alonzo Booth ranks second in the FCS with 277 rushing yards and fourth with 4.86 yards per carry.
Matthew Jackson ranks fourth with 11 tackles per game. Against Houston Baptist, Jackson finished with 15 tackles.
McKinney has many weapons on offense, including the wide receiver trio of Keyion Dixon, Jacquez Jones and Jackson Beerman. Dixon, Jones and Beerman are among the nation’s receiving leaders.
Keyion Dixon ranks fourth with three receiving touchdowns, sixth with 280 receiving yards, sixth with 4.3 receptions per game and eighth with 16.47 yards per reception.
Jacquez Jones is also tied for fourth with three receiving touchdowns.
Jackson Beerman ranks third with 21.78 yards per reception and ninth with 196 receiving yards.
“I think it speaks volumes to those young men and the belief and the work they’ve put in to understand our system,” Wells said. “Those are guys that are playing at a high level for us and especially in our FCS games… they are developing confidence… those guys play with a high mentality.”
The Colonels have a record of 1-3 while Troy is 2-1.
EKU will take on Troy in Troy, Alabama on Oct. 17, kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The game will be live on ESPN3.