In the final minutes of Saturday’s win over Morehead State at Roy Kidd Stadium, the Colonels had a rather unfamiliar cast of characters on the field in the secondary, especially at defensive back.
After senior All-OVC performer Justin Bell left the game with a hamstring injury early in the 241-7 win, the EKU coaching staff had to reshuffle an already shuffled depth chart at that position.
“When Justin Bell went down, that (meant we were missing our) top three corners,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “So, regardless of who we put out there, he is our fourth corner and the guy on the other side is our fifth corner. But, I thought the kids did a good job. We’ve got to get better. That’s something we talked about in the team meeting this week.”
Injuries and other problems have left the Colonels with questions marks at defensive back.
Sophomore Trey Thomas, a sophomore Huber Heights, Ohio, was ruled academically ineligible prior to the start of the season. In the preseason depth chart, he was listed as the starting left corner.
Cejay Ceniza, a senior from Las Vegas, was expected to push for playing time at corner, but he hasn’t played so far this season because of an injury.
Without Ceniza and Thomas in the lineup, the Colonels have allowed more than 300 yards passing in both games. EKU gave up 372 yards to Purdue and 304 yards to Morehead State.
The Colonels currently rank seventh in the OVC in pass defense (338 yards a game) and sixth in pass efficiency defense (151.2).
“It’s not about talent,” Hood said of EKU’s defensive backs. “Dino Montgomery is as talented as can be. Stanley Absanon is as talented as can be. Ben De La Cruz is in a new position, but he has talent. We just have to do the things that don’t take talent.”
Stanley Absanon started the first two games at corner and has played well. The freshman had a pass break-up against Purdue and had six tackles last week against Morehead.
“He can really run,” Hood said of Absanon. “He’s a guy who has the potential to be really, really good.”
With Bell out of the lineup against Morehead, Montgomery and De La Cruz saw plenty of action against Morehead.
De La Cruz, a junior transfer who played quarterback and defensive back at Bethune-Cookman, had four tackles and one pass break-up. Montgomery, a redshirt freshman from Cincinnati, did not record a tackle against Morehead State, but had two solo tackles against Purdue.
Bell should be back in the starting lineup Saturday when the Colonels travel to Coastal Carolina (2-0).
So far this season, the Chanticleers have averaged 283 yards a game passing.
Two EKU games to be broadcast on FOX College Sports
The Ohio Valley Conference announced Thursday a six-game football television package that will air on FOX College Sports (FCS) this fall.
The six-game schedule will feature two EKU games — Sept. 29 at UT Martin and Oct. 27 vs. Eastern Illinois at Roy Kidd Stadium.