By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The EKU coaching staff knew coming into the season that the team’s offense had a big-time play-maker at receiver (Tyrone Goard) and a rock-solid All-American running back (Matt Denham).
Still, they were looking for other players to step up and make a serious impact.
And in recent weeks, that’s started to happen for the 18th-ranked Colonels (6-2, 4-1 OVC).
Led by Cameron Bailey, the EKU offense has become much more diversified as new offensive threats have emerged.
“We’ve got the three wide receivers and we’ve got some other kids who are ready to break out,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “We’ve got the two tight ends and Tyrone and Cam. We can throw it to the backs as well.”
Bailey has made the biggest impact.
The senior wide receiver had at least one catch in every game last year and finished second on the team with 314 receiving yards and 29 catches.
He’s already surpassed those career highs with three games left in the regular season.
Bailey has 33 catches for 472 yards and four touchdowns. Two weeks ago against Austin Peay he posted his second career 100-yard receiving game and last week at Tennessee Tech he had his first two-touchdown game.
In the past two games, Bailey has seven catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
“Nothing has really changed,” Bailey said after the win at Tennessee Tech. “You’ve just got to keep working hard. I don’t do this for myself. I do this for my team.”
Bailey is not the only Colonel to step up.
Ike Ariguzo, a junior transfer from the Air Force Academy, had a career-best three catches last week against Tech and caught his first touchdown — a 28-yard pass from T.J. Pryor in the fourth quarter.
“It’s great to have Tyrone out there, but sometimes they double-team him and someone else has to step,” Pryor said. “Those guys have been patiently waiting for their time and now they are stepping up and making plays.”
EKU’s tight ends have been making plays as well.
Nathan Watts, a junior, had just two catches through the first four games, but has 10 catches in the past three games.
He had a career-best four catches for 63 yards against Tennessee State.
“We kept thinking Watts was going to breakout some time,” Hood said.
Paul Henry, a senior tight end, has five catches on the year, including a touchdown against Morehead State.
The Colonels had seven players catch at least one pass last week against Tennessee Tech, including Denham (six catches) and fullback Jeremy James (two catches).
“It’s all come together,” Hood said of the EKU offense.