5 Burning Questions About the EKU Game.
1) Will revenge be a big factor? Probably not. In 2010, JSU blew a huge lead to Tennessee Tech. The Gamecocks were unable to use the revenge factor to get a win over TTU in 2011. The bottom line is emotion only goes so far and the best team will usually win the game.
2) Can the Gamecocks stop the deep ball? No one burns JSU deep the way EKU does (okay, maybe Arkansas). In each of the last two games, EKU has had 4 completions of 20 yards or more including multiple 40+ yard receptions. There is little reason to think the outcome will be different this year. The Colonels have an All American receiver in Tryone Goard and also return Cameron Bailey both of whom had over 100 receiving yards against JSU in the 2011 game. While it was against an FCS team with a great quarterback, the Gamecocks were unsuccessful stopping the pass against Arkansas.
3) Is Washaun Ealey ready to explode? All reports out of summer camp were that Ealey was in amazing shape and was poised to continue the dominance he showed beginning midway in to the 2011 campaign. Unfortunately, Ealey was injured early in the Arkansas game and was suspended for Chattanooga. GI predicts that Ealey will go for over 200 yards against EKU behind an improved offensive line. The biggest thing holding Ealey back may be lack of carries given the emergence of Coot James and Buster Pope.
4) Can the Gamecocks stop Matt Denham? Last year, EKU wonderback Matt Denham burned the Gamecocks for 214 yards. Denham has been tough this year going for over 100 yards against Morehead State (a non-scholarship team) and Coastal Carolina. The Colonels have two all conference tackles, but suffered a serious loss on their offensive line when center OJ Enasobi was apparently declared academically ineligible and they also apparently loss their starting tight end. This attrition aside, stopping Denham will be a monumental challenge for the Gamecocks.
5) Will the horseshoe fall out of EKU’s hat? Last year, EKU finished +15 in turnover margin. While they certainly deserve credit for creating turnovers, this stat tends to even out over time. Last year against JSU, EKU got a pick in the endzone that saved seven points, recovered two onsides kicks, returned a fumble 60+ yards for a touchdown and stopped JSU on the 1 yard line at the end of the game. If JSU can win the turnover battle this year, it should win the game.