For the second Saturday in a row, Eastern Kentucky will travel to the Mountain State and play a football game on national television.
The Colonels (0-1) are certainly hoping for a better showing this week when they visit West Virginia (Noon, TV: Fox Sports 1) after a 59-0 beat down at the hands of Marshall in Huntington last week.
The Thundering Herd out-gained EKU 627 yards to 166 and had 34 first downs to EKU’s seven. WVU coach Neal Brown said he expects a better showing from the Colonels on Saturday in Morgantown.
“I do think that they’ll play better, probably considerably better, this week than they did a week ago,” Brown told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “I think teams, it’s a cliche, they always make the biggest improvement between week one and week two. Game ones are tough. A lot of times you throw them out.”
EKU head coach Walt Wells said he and his team did not shy away from identifying the mistakes they made against Marshall.
“We watched the film together, because I don’t want one side pointing at the other side,” Wells told reporters Tuesday morning. “I don’t want players pointing at coaches and coaches pointing at players — we were all in that thing together. It was a hard conversation to have. It’s never easy when things aren’t the way you want them.”
Wells, who is in his first year at EKU, said the embarrassing defeat has served to motivate his players a bit more this week.
“When we went out to practice, there was a lot of energy and probably a lot more than I’ve seen,” Wells said. “It was authentic energy and spirit. It wasn’t manufactured by the coaches, it wasn’t manufactured by one guy. If we can continue that this week, that itself ought to bring some improvement, in my opinion.”
In scouting the Colonels, Brown identified running backs Quentin Pringle and Alonzo Booth as dangerous players in EKU’s backfield.
As EKU’s second running back last season, Booth rushed for 673 yards and 14 touchdowns. Pringle was the team’s primary kick returner and had 407 total return yards with a 27.1-yard average. Against Marshall, he rushed six times for 39 yards while Booth had 33 yards on 15 carries. Wells acknowledged that his team needs to run the ball better, but also noted that WVU’s interior linemen, Darius and Dante Stills, could make that difficult.
EKU played two quarterbacks against Marshall, sophomore Parker McKinney (7 of 10, 71 yards, 1 INT) and junior Dakota Allen (3 of 5, 9 yards). WVU’s starter will be junior Jarret Doege, who threw for 818 yards and seven touchdowns in four games last season.