Saturday, September 30, 2023

WCU Player of the Game (vs. The Citadel) Desmond Reid

Purple & Gold's "Catamount Player of the Game" for The Citadel game on September 30th in Charleston, SC, is sophomore running back Desmond Reid, for the third time this season. 

The Catamount Player of the GameDesmond Reid eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the seventh time in his career, with 167 yards rushing, and five (5) rushing touchdowns, to set a new WCU record for touchdowns in a half, the SoCon record for touchdowns in a half, and the WCU school record for touchdowns in a game against The Citadel Bulldogs.  Reid also had three pass receptions for a total of 28 yards, bringing his total yardage to 195 yards.  

Purple & Gold congratulates Desmond on what is the first of many accolades he will receive for his performance in this game.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

Whee, The Cats: A Season with the Catamounts- Episode 4


Game #5 - The Citadel Bulldogs

For the fifth game of the season, the Catamounts travel to Charleston, SC to face The Citadel Bulldogs in Johnson Hagood Stadium. The last time the Cats traveled to  Charleston, they picked up a 34-21 road victory in the low country of South Carolina.  

The Bulldogs are coming off a 4-7 season that resulted in not only a head coaching change but a new offensive scheme as well.  This will be the first season since the Cats joined the Southern Conference that they will not face a triple option team.  

Game #5: The Citadel

When: Saturday, September 30, 2022
Time:  2:00 pm
Where: Johnson Hagood Stadium, Charleston SC
Radio:  Catamount Sports Network
   -announcers Gary Ayers • Daniel Hooker  Producer: Jeff Bryson
TV/video: ESPN+
   -announcers(PxP) Kendall Lewis (Analyst) Jack Delongchamps (Sideline) Taylor Wall
Live StatsCitadel live stats
Game Notes:   Western Carolina   -    The Citadel 
Citadel Message BoardCitadel Fan Message Board
Nickname:  Bulldogs
Mascot:  Spike

The SeriesWestern is currently 19-27-1 vs. the Bulldogs overall. The Cats and Dogs first played on the gridiron in 1972, and the Cats own an 8-14 record vs. the Citadel in games played in Charleston, SC, along with a 4-6 record in the last 10 games played. 

Last Season's Game vs. The Citadel (10-22-22) - Catamounts Fall to The Citadel on Heroes Day  - Cullowhee, NC – Freshman running back Desmond Reid ran for a team-best 129 yards, and classmate quarterback Cole Gonzales threw for two touchdowns, but Western Carolina was unable to overcome a strong first half by The Citadel in a 34-21 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at Bob Waters Field/E.J. Whitmire Stadium. The Citadel improves to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the Southern Conference while WCU heads into its bye week at 3-5 and 1-4.

Last season's Record - (The Citadel): 4-7 overall, 2-3 home, 2-4 away, 3-5 SoCon
This season's Record - The Citadel: 0-4 overall, 0-1 home, 0-3 away, 0-1 SoCon

Head Coach: Maurice Drayton -  Former Bulldog player and defensive coordinator Maurice Drayton has been named the next head football coach at The Citadel. The announcement was made by Director of Athletics Mike Capaccio on Tuesday. A former standout player and defensive coordinator, Drayton returns to The Citadel after spending the previous seven seasons working in the NFL. He most recently served as the assistant special teams coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders. Drayton also served as the special teams' coordinator in Green Bay in 2021, assistant special teams coordinator for the Packers from 2018-20, and the special teams' coordinator for Indianapolis Colts in 2016-17. 

Drayton's Record at The Citadel: 0 - 4 
Overall Record: Same
Drayton's Record vs. WCU:  0 - 0
Bell's record vs. The Citadel: 1 - 1

Former player and assistant coach Maurice Drayton took over the reins of the Bulldog program in December 2022. With a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator (Patrick Covington). Covington spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Lamar in Beaumont, Texas. The Cardinals possessed one of the more balanced offenses in FCS football as they averaged 175.7 rushing yards per game and 173.7 yards a game through the air. So I think we can expect some variation of the spread option. Covington ran a "multiple" spread offense while at Lamar, and I expect that is what he will duplicate in Charleston for the Bulldogs. 

Former Bulldog linebacker and assistant coach Raleigh Jackson returned to The Citadel as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Jackson spent the 2022 season as the linebackers coach at Central Arkansas, where he helped the Bears capture the A-Sun Championship. Jackson has also served as the defensive coordinator at Division II, Arkansas Tech in 2017-18, and in his first season, the Wonder Boy defense led the Great American Conference in scoring defense, yards per play, takeaways, fourth-down defense, red-zone defense, defensive pass efficiency, and sacks. 

The Bulldogs only lost 3 players to the transfer portal, two on the offensive side of the ball, and one defensive player.  Avery Dixon (DB); Christian Hilton (WR); & Ethan Greenwood (QB).

2023 The Citadel Statistics (4 games):
Rushing Offense: 561 yards
Yards per game: 122.5 yards
Yards per rush: 3.7  yards
Rushing 1st downs: 133
TDs rushing: 26
Passing Offense: 414 yards or 103.5 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 5.9 yards
Passing 1st downs: 15
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 70-38-2
TDs Passing: 2
Total Offense:  904 yards or 226.3 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 5 - 3
3d Down Conversions: (25%)
4th Down Conversions: (14%)
Field goal attempts: 2 of 2
PAT-Attempts: 2 of 2
On-side kicks: 0 of  1
Red Zone Scores: 1 of 5 
Red Zone Touchdowns: 1 of 5 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A Look At Saturday's SoCon Football

Saturday, September 30, 2023  

ETSU at Samford -1 pm (ESPN+)
#17 Western Carolina at The Citadel - 2 pm (ESPN+)
VMI at Mercer - 4 pm (ESPN+)
#22 UTC at Wofford - 6 pm (ESPN+)

Four conference games are on The Southern Conference schedule for Saturday, September 30.  Furman has a bye week in Travelers Rest. 

The ETSU Bucs travel to Homewood, AL for Saturday's first game, as the Bucs are coming off a  bye week, while the home-standing, defending conference champion Bulldogs are coming off a disappointing loss to Chattanooga last Saturday. At this point of the season, neither team has a DI win, so this is a big game for both teams. The Bucs look forward to having Tyler Riddell back at the QB position for this game, as the Bulldogs wonder what else can happen.  We're not sure how the Bulldogs react after the disappointing loss to the Mocs last Saturday, but I think Samford pulls it out, with a 28-21 win over ETSU.

The Citadel hosts the #17 Western Carolina Catamounts that are looking for a little payback from last season's loss to the Bulldogs in Cullowhee. The high-scoring Catamounts face the SoCon's last-place defense that's giving up an average of 43 points per game. Look for another dominating game for the Cats, in a 49-3 Western victory.

The Keydets travel to Macon, GA to face the Mercer Bears. The Bears are coming off a 14-38 bitter loss to Furman last week. Mercer is looking to claw their way back into the national rankings, after being knocked out by the loss to Furman.  The Bears will overpower the visiting Keydets and pick up their first conference win by a 35-14 margin.  

In the final game of the day, #22 Chattanooga visits the home-standing Wofford Terriers. The Mocs bring in the current number one scoring offense to Spartanburg to face the number 5 defensive unit, Terriers who are giving up 27 points per game. The Mocs dominate on both sides of the ball and take a 49-10 victory home.  

Monday, September 25, 2023

2023 SoCon Football Power Rankings - (after week #4)

Welcome to Purple & Gold's 2023 SoCon Football Power Rankings

Each Monday throughout the season, we'll release that week's Power Rankings.  Here are this week's power rankings, after week #4 -  (last week's ranking in parenthesis):

1. (1) Furman (3-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  bye

2. (2) Western Carolina  (3-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  The Citadel (0-4, 0-1 SoCon)

3. (4) Chattanooga  (3-1, 2-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Wofford (0-4, 0-1 SoCon)

4. (3) Mercer (2-2, 0-1 SoCon)
Next:  VMI (2-2, 1-0 SoCon)

5. (5) Samford (1-3, 0-2 SoCon)
Next:  ETSU (1-2, 0-0 SoCon)

6. (7) VMI (2-2, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Mercer (2-2, 0-1 SoCon)

7. (6) ETSU  (1-2, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Samford (1-3, 0-2 SoCon)

8. (8) The Citadel (0-4, 0-1 SoCon)
Next:  Western Carolina  (3-1, 1-0 SoCon)

9. (9) Wofford  (0-4, 0-1 SoCon)
Next:  Chattanooga  (3-1, 2-0 SoCon)


Saturday, September 23, 2023

WCU Player of the Game (vs. Charleston Southern)

Purple & Gold's "Catamount Player of the Game" for the Charleston Southern game on September 23rd in Cullowhee is sophomore quarterback Cole Gonzales

The Catamount Player of the GameCole Gonzales completed 14 of 16 passes for 299 yards, and five first-half touchdown passes to four different receivers. Cole had no interceptions or sacks in the game, leading the Catamounts to a 77-21 win over Charleston Southern.

"But it was the play of quarterback Cole Gonzales that was among the most impressive highlights for the Catamount offense. The second-year Ocala, Fla., product opened the game with a perfect 12-for-12 passing with five going for scores before his first incompletion late in the first half. Gonzales finished an efficient 14-of-16 for 299 yards as one of three signal-callers to play on Saturday."

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Game #4 - Charleston Southern Buccaneers

For the season's fourth game, the Catamounts return to Cullowhee to face the Big South's Charleston Southern Buccaneers in the second game of a two-game series between the two teams on the gridiron. 

The Bucs completed the 2022 season tied for third place in the Big South Conference standings, tied with Campbell and Bryant, with a 2-3 conference record.  Saturday will also be Family Day, and the game will honor and recognize the partnership between WCU and the EBCI community. 

Game #4: Charleston Southern Bucs

When: Saturday, September 23, 2023
Time: 2:30 pm
WhereBob Water Field, Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
   -Play-by-Play: Gary Ayers • Producer: Jeff Bryson
TV/video: ESPN+
   -Play-by-Play: Kyle C Rush, ColorDaniel Hooker
Live Stats: WCU Live Stats
Conference:  Big South/OVC Alliance 

The Series: This is the second meeting between the two teams on the football field, and is the second and final game in the home-and-home series between the two schools. 

Last Game vs. CSU:  September 3, 2022 - Davis Throws for 400 Yards, 6 TDs in Season-Opening Road Win - Charleston, S.C. – Carlos Davis threw for a career-high 433 yards and a school-record six touchdown passes going to six different receivers as Western Carolina won its 2022 season opener on Saturday afternoon, 52-38, over Charleston Southern at Buccaneer Field.

Head CoachGabe Giardina became the sixth Charleston Southern head football coach in program history in November of 2022. He comes to the Buccaneers after coaching stops at the University of Alabama, Charleston Southern, Delta State and Albany State.

Gabe Giardina's Record38-19 overall / 1-2 at CSU  (1st season)

Gabe Giardina's record vs. Western Carolina: 0-0
Kerwin Bell's record vs. Charleston Southern: 1-0

Last Season's Record - (CSU 2022): 2-8 overall, 1-3 home, 1-5 away, 2-3 Big South

Offensive Formation:  Run Pass Option (RPO)
Defensive Formation:  
unknown at this time

The Bucs struggled to a 2-8 record in 2022 which resulted in the dismissal of head coach Autry Denson. 
Division II Albany State head coach Gabe Giardina gets the opportunity to lead the Buccaneers after a great run with the Golden Rams. The Bucs were picked to finish 9th in the Big South/OVC Association preseason poll. 

With the movement to an RPO-type offense, and the departure of starting quarterback Ross Malmgren, who was injured in Game 4 last season, Tony Bartalo has the inside track to the starting QB job.  

The Bucs lost at least 8 players to the transfer portal from last season, 3 on offense, 4 on defense and 1 on special teams: Darius Meeks (OL), Seth Anderson (WR), Vinson Davis III (WR), Boogsie Silvera (DB), Jeremiah McClendon (DB), Jerome Rice III (LB), Kamron Smith (DB), & Franklin Rogers (K) - most of which were on their two-deep roster for the Bucs.  The Bucs received three FBS transfers from the portal,  Isaiah Gordon (RB) from Marshall, Andrew Threatt (OL) from Navy, and Will Kakavitsas (WR) from Virginia Tech. 

"The high-octane Catamount offense – which has amassed over 500 yards in both of its last two games –  will be challenged by a Buccaneer defense that is limiting its non-FBS opponents to just 343 yards of total offense and an average of just 12.5 points per game. Defensively, WCU will match with a Buccaneer offense that ranks last out of the 122 FCS teams, averaging just 140.7 yards per game and 12.3 points per game." 

In their last outing, the Bucs held #4 William & Mary of the CAA to just 15 total points, in a 7-15 loss. In that loss, William and Mary only scored one touchdown (4th quarter), the other eight points were two field goals and a safety. That's a nice defensive game by the Bucs against the #4 ranked team. At this point in the season, the Bucs' offense is anemic in all stages of the game.  They have a total of 180 yards of rushing offense in three games, and only 222 yards of passing offense in those same three games.  CSU has two rushing touchdowns (total) and no passing TDs to date in three games.  While not a serious threat to outscore the Catamounts, they have demonstrated the ability to bend on defense, and not break.  

2023 Charleston Southern Statistics (3 games)

Rushing Offense: 180 yards
Yards per game: 60
Yards per rush: 1.9 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 10
TDs rushing: 2
Passing Offense: 222 yards or 74 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 10
Passing Att-Comp-Int: 50-22-3
TDs Passing: 0
Total Offense: 402 yards or 134 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 3 - 1
3d Down Conversions: 9 of 38 (23.7%)
4th Down Conversions: 1 of 2 (50%)
Field goal-attempts:  3 of 3
PAT-Attempts: 4 of 4
Red Zone Scores: 3 of 3
Red Zone Touchdowns: 2 of 3
On-Side Kicks: 1 - 1
Penalties-Yards: 11 - 95 - Avg. per gm 31.7
Punts-Yards: 23 - 904 - Avg. per gm 39
Sacks: 7 for 35 yards

2 Deep Roster vs. CSU


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

A Look At Saturday's SoCon Football

Saturday, September 23, 2023  

-#21Mercer at #8 Furman - 1 pm (ESPN+)
-Wofford at VMI - 1:30 (ESPN+)
-CSU at #23 WCU - 2:30 pm (ESPN+)
-UTC at #20 Samford - 3 pm (ESPN+)
-The Citadel at SC State - 6 pm (ESPN+)
-ETSU (Bye)

Three conference games and two out-of-conference encounters are on The Southern Conference schedule for Saturday, September 23.  

The Mercer Bears hit the road to Travelers Rest, SC to face the Furman Paladins in a battle of nationally ranked teams, to open the day's games at 1 p.m. in Paladin Stadium. This game should tell us lots about both teams, as on offense, the Paladins are currently second in the conference, averaging 32.3 points per game (ppg), just ahead of Samford, that comes in at third place, with an average of 27.9 points per game. On defense, the Paladins are in third place giving up 28.3 ppg, while the Bears are at seventh place in the standings, giving up 34 ppg.  I think the Paladins win, 35-28.

In the second game of the day, winless Wofford travels to Lexington, Va to face the Keydets. The optimism that was the Terriers to start the season, went down the drain last weekend with their loss to non-scholarship Presbyterian College. The Keydets are looking for their second win of the still young season, facing a depressed Terrier team. The Keydets are actually second in the conference in defense, giving up only 24.3 ppg.  I think the final score comes in at around 14-7, in favor of VMI. When it rains, it pours for the Terriers. 

At 2:30, the Charleston Southern Bucs face the #23 Western Carolina Catamounts. For the first time in three weeks, the Catamount will face a favorable weather forecast, with a high of 72, and only a 16% chance of rain the the forecast. At this point of the season, the Buc are laying their hopes on a resurgent defense displayed in the last two games, holding #4 William and Mary last week to a total of 15 points. At this point in the season, the Catamount offense ranks number 5 in the conference, scoring an average of 23.3 ppg. Given the way the Buc defense has performed, and given the Cat's somewhat anemic scoring this season, this is certainly not a "give-me game".  It's possible the Cats dominate the CSU defense, but, it's just as possible that the Buc defense holds the Cats to a score below their average. Who's got more to prove, the Bucs after that frist D1 win, or the Cats in their drive to a conference championship and a trip to the playoffs.  I'll go with the Cat, and am looking for a 28-0 win over the stubborn Buccaneers.  

Down in Homewood, AL, the Chattanooga Mocs face the defending SoCon champs at 3 pm (eastern). Rebounding after their unexpected beatdown from UNA to open the season, the Mocs have vaulted out with two wins, and are expected to give the #20 Bulldogs their biggest FCS test since facing the Catamounts, to open conference play. At this point, the Bulldogs are playing for their honor, and after two weeks of difficult games, from WCU and Auburn. At this point in the season, the Bulldogs lack a FCS win, and face a very difficult opponent in their effort to pick up that win. The Mocs lead the conference in offensive points, and defense (points scored agains them). However, I expect the Bulldogs to rebound, and come out with a 24-17 win over the Mocs.  

In the final game of the day, it's a battle of the Bulldogs and the battle of the winless, as The Citadel travels to Orangeburg, SC to face the SC State. In three games, The Citadel has scored a total of 10 points, while in the same amout of games SC State has scored 23 points total. Given their home standing, and their doubling of points scored, I see the SC State Bulldogs getting in the win column at the end of the day.  It's SC State, 28-3. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

2023 SoCon Football Power Rankings - (after week #3)

Welcome to Purple & Gold's 2023 SoCon Football Power Rankings

Each Monday throughout the season, we'll release that week's Power Rankings.  Here are this week's power rankings, after week #3 -  (last weeks ranking in parenthesis):

1. (1) Furman (2-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  Mercer (2-1, 0-0 SoCon)

2. (2) Western Carolina  (2-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  Charleston Southern  (1-2)

3. (3) Mercer (2-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Furman (2-1, 0-0 SoCon)

4. (5) Chattanooga  (2-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Samford (1-2, 0-1 SoCon)

5. (4) Samford (1-2, 0-1 SoCon)
Next:  Chattanooga  (2-1, 1-0 SoCon)

6. (7) ETSU  (1-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  Bye

7. (8) VMI (1-2, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  Wofford (0-3, 0-0 SoCon)

8. (9) The Citadel  (0-3, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  SC State (0-3)

9. (6) Wofford  (0-3, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  at VMI (1-2, 0-0 SoCon)


Saturday, September 16, 2023

WCU Player of the Game (vs.The Citadel) Desmond Reid

Purple & Gold's "Catamount Player of the Game" for The Citadel game on September 30th in Charleston, SC, is sophomore running back Desmond Reid, for the third time this season. 

The Catamount Player of the GameDesmond Reid eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the seventh time in his career, with 167 yards rushing, and five (5) rushing touchdowns, to set a new WCU record for touchdowns in a half, the SoCon record for touchdowns in a half, and the WCU school record for touchdowns in a game against The Citadel Bulldogs.  Reid also had three pass receptions for a total of 28 yards, bringing his total yardage to 195 yards.  

Purple & Gold congratulates Desmond on what is the first of many accolades he will receive for his performance in this game.


Whee, The Cats: A Season with the Catamounts- Episode 3


Thursday, September 14, 2023

A Look At Saturday's SoCon Football

 Saturday, September 16, 2023

VMI at NC State (CW Network)  2 pm
Furman at Kennesaw State (ESPN+)  5 pm
Western Carolina at Eastern Kentucky (ESPN+)  6 pm
Presbyterian at Wofford (ESPN+)  6 pm
The Citadel at Chattanooga  (ESPN+)  6 pm
Samford at Auburn  (ESPN+SECN+)  7 pm
ETSU at Austin Peay (ESPN+)  7 pm

This could potentially be a good week for the SoCon in out-of-conference FCS games, the conference needs wins in this category to improve it's standing among the top FCS conferences. There are two FBS games on this weekend's schedule, while it's doubtful they will result in SoCon victories, competitive games by the SoCon teams involved goes a long way helping the conference improve that standing.

Furman, Western Carolina, Wofford, and ETSU all have realistic opportunities to bring home out-of-conference FCS victories this Saturday. Wofford is a big favorite to pick up a home victory, and get that first win of the young football season. PC comes into that game at 1-1 on the season, but their win was against a non-DI, VU of Lynchburg, while the Terriers, while winless, played much tougher competition against Pitt and nationally ranked William and Mary.  I see a 35-0 win for the Terriers.

Furman travels to Kennesaw State to face the FBS transitioning Owls. KSU is playing as an FCS independent this season, as their scholarship roster now exceeds the 65 allowed in the FCS. KSU is currently 1-1, also with a non-DI win under their belt, but dropping a 20-27 road game against Chattanooga last Saturday. The Paladins also bring in a 1-1 record with a nice home win over Tennessee Tech and a respectable loss against South Carolina in Columbia.  I see a  38-14 win for the Paladins in Kennesaw.

ETSU travels to Clarksville, TN to face Austin Peay Governors. The Bucs bring a 1-1 record to the game, having lost at Jacksonville State of CUSA and won against a non-DI Carson-Newman. The home standing Governors are 0-2 with losses to Tennessee and Southern Illinois. While the Gov's are favored in this game, I can see the Bucs pulling out a 28-24 win.  

The Catamounts travel to Richmond, KY to face the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. EKU is 0-2 having faced two FBS games to open their season.  EKU was blown out to open their season in Cincinnati, but lost to Kentucky by only 11 points. The Colonels are slightly favored at home in the game, but I see another outstanding performance by the Catamount defense, holding the Colonels to 10 points, while the explosive WCU offense puts up 28 points against the Colonels. 

In the SoCon's lone conference game this week, The Citadel Bulldogs travel to Chattanooga to face the resurgent Mocs. The 0-2 Bulldogs unfortunately face a Moc team wanting to make a statement to the rest of the SoCon and return to Charleston with a 35-0 loss to Chattanooga.  

In the two FBS games, there's always the chance of blow-out losses for the FCS team, and the Wolfpack walks away with a 49-0 win over the visiting Keydets. However,  in Auburn, the Bulldogs from Samford play a more competitive game, with a final score of 14-35 in favor of the home standing Tigers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Game #3 - Eastern Kentucky Colonels

In Western's third game of the still young 2023 season, the Catamounts travel to Richmond, Kentucky to face the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky University.

Western faces the Colonels for just the eighth time overall, as the two teams last played in Cullowhee in 2021, where the Cats dropped a three-point loss to the Colonels when a last minute game tying  field goal attempt fell just short of the cross bar. 

Game #3 - Eastern Kentucky Colonels
When: Saturday, September 16 
Time:   6 PM (EST)
Where: Roy Kidd Stadium (20,000), Richmond, KY
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
   - announcers:  
Play-by-Play: Gary Ayers • Color Daniel Hooker • Producer: Jeff Bryson
TV / videoESPN+
   - announcers:  Greg Stotelmyer, play-by-play; Jim Tirey, analyst; Wes Chandler, sideline
Live Stats EKU Live Stats
EKU Conference:  United Athletic Conference 
Nickname: Colonels
Colors: Maroon and White
Enrollment:  13,327
Message BoardMaroon Nation
EKU Game Day: Football Game Day Info
Game Notes:  Western Carolina   -   Eastern Kentucky  -  SoCon

The Series: In only the 8th meeting between the two teams, the Cats own a 2-5 record overall against the Colonels. Western is 1-3 against the Colonels in games played in Richmond. 

Last Game vs. EKU (September 4, 2021) - Catamounts Battle in Season-Opening 31-28 Loss to EKU - Trailing by three in the waning moments of Saturday's 2021 season-opener, Western Carolina moved into field goal range on a pair of Rogan Wells completions to Raphael Williams to set-up second-year freshman placekicker Paxton Robertson for a game-tying field goal. However, his career-long attempt of 56 yards fell just short of the crossbar as Eastern Kentucky held on for the 31-28 victory at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.

Head CoachWalt Wells - 4th Season.  Wells was hired as the 15th head coach in program history on Dec. 9, 2019. Wells most recently served as a quality control assistant at the University of Kentucky during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The 2018 Wildcat team beat Florida for the first time in 32 years, posted the program’s best Southeastern Conference (SEC) record in 41 years and beat No. 12-ranked Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl. All totaled, the 10-3 record was Kentucky's best season in 41 years and only the third 10-win season in school history.

Wells record at EKU (Years) / Career :  17-17 (3 years)  /   same  
Wells record vs. WCU:  2-0
Kerwin Bell's record vs. EKU: 0-1

Last Season's Record  (2022 - EKU): 7-5 overall, 5-2 home, 2-3 away, 3-2 OVC
EKU Offensive Formation: Multiple Spread
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost:  6/5
EKU Defensive Formation: 4-3
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost: 3/8
Specialist Returning/Lost: 5/1
Players Returning/Lost: 58/50 
Newcomers: 45

Last season, EKU punched their ticket to the 2022 FCS playoffs by capturing a share of the ASUN regular season championship. The Colonels finished in a three-way tie for the league crown with Central Arkansas and Austin Peay. As the highest-ranked team of the three ASUN contenders in the ASUN-WAC Power Rankings, EKU earned the tiebreaker and claimed the automatic qualifier status by virtue of being ranked above WAC champion Stephen F. Austin.  The Colonels finished 7-5 overall last year, losing 52-41 to Gardner-Webb in the first round of the FCS playoffs. EKU returns two players off the ASUN all-conference team, QB Parker McKinney & OL Payton Collins were 1st team, and TE Lucas Raber was 3d team on the All-Pioneer at Davidson.  

Five EKU Colonels earned recognition on the 2023 Preseason UAC All-Conference Team. Quarterback Parker McKinney was named the UAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and is joined on the team by offensive linemen Payton Collins and Josiah Ezirim, defensive lineman Ryan Jackson, and defensive back Franky West Jr.  McKinney entered the season as the FCS active career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He was named a preseason All-American by three different organizations and is the Phil Steele Preseason UAC Offensive Player of the Year. 

The Colonels lost 4 players' to the portal after last season, but picked up a total of 12 from the portal, seven from FBS teams and seven from FCS teams.  The FBS transfers are defensive back Tony Davis (Duke), offensive lineman Antonio Gaines (Charlotte), wide receiver Jackson Hensley (Wake Forest), linebacker Cam Junior (Cincinnati), linebacker Kyle Kelly (Ohio), wide receiver Dequan Stanley (South Florida), linebacker Gabe Stephens (North Carolina); 

Offensively, EKU ranked No. 11 in scoring last season, averaging 36.2 points per game. The passing attack averaged 329.7 yards per game, which was No. 3 in the subdivision. Returning are their star quarterback, the No. 1 wide receiver, the No. 1 running back, and five offensive line starters from that team.  Last year, Parker McKinney went 315/459 (69%) passing for 3,956 yards, 33 touchdowns, and eight interceptions while rushing for 354 yards and eight TDs. 2023 marks the first season of United Athletic Conference football. EKU will battle Abilene Christian, Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, North Alabama, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Tarleton State, and Utah Tech for the title. 

Defensively, EKU allowed 35.2 points per game (No. 101 in the FCS), 240.2 rushing yards per game (No. 120), and 208.8 passing yards per game (No. 44). To help shore up the defense, Wells brought in transfers in Duke DB Tony Davis and Ohio LB Kyle Kelly along with FCS transfers in Elon DL Marvion Field, ETSU's DL Rodney Wright, and Illinois State DB Franky West (DB). From last year’s squad, the Colonels lose their top three tacklers and only return four of their top 11 tacklers. EKU's defense will be severely tested in their opening two games, as they face two FBS opponents to open the season on the road, as they face Cincinnati (Big 12) and Kentucky (SEC).  

Eastern Kentucky has dropped their opening 2 games of the season, both games played on the road, against FBS opponents.  They opened the schedule with a 13-66 loss to Cincinnati, and then played at Kentucky, with a very respectable 17-28 final score against the Wildcats. 

2023 Eastern Kentucky Statistics (2 games):
Rushing Offense: 217 yards
Yards per game: 108.5
Yards per rush: 3.7 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 12
TDs rushing: 1
Passing Offense: 396 yards or 198 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 7.3 yards
Passing 1st downs: 17
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 32-54-3
TDs Passing: 2
Total Offense: 613 yards or 306.5 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 4-2
3d Down Conversions: 9 of 23 (39%)
4th Down Conversions: 0 of 1 (0%)
Field goal attempts: 3 - 4
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 5 of 5 (100%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 3 of 5 (60%)
PAT-attempts: 3 of 3

Monday, September 11, 2023

2023 SoCon Football Power Rankings - (after week #2)

Welcome to Purple & Gold's 2023 SoCon Football Power Rankings.

Each Monday throughout the season, we'll release that week's Power Rankings.  Here are this week's power rankings, after week #2 -  (last weeks ranking in parenthesis):

1. (2) Furman (1-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Kennesaw State (1-1)

2. (3) Western Carolina  (1-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Eastern Kentucky (0-2)

3. (4) Mercer (2-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  Bye

4. (1) Samford (1-1, 0-1 SoCon)
Next: at Auburn

5. (6) Chattanooga  (1-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next: Kennesaw State

6. (5) Wofford  (0-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next: Presbyterian (1-1)

7. (9) ETSU  (1-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next: Austin Peay (0-2)

8. (8) VMI (1-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next: NC State

9. (7) The Citadel  (0-1, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Chattanooga (1-1)