By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
During a four-game winning streak earlier in the season, the EKU offense turned in a series of very solid all-around performances.
In victories over Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech, SEMO and Tennessee State, the Colonels averaged 34 points and 309 yards of total offense a game.
And they won those games by an average margin of more than 29 points, out-scoring their opponents 137-20.
But, since then, EKU’s offense has struggled.
In back-to-back losses to Jacksonville State and UT-Martin, the Colonels found the end zone just twice and scored only 17 total points.
The offense’s sudden ineffectiveness has been rather shocking and unexpected.
After leading the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing for most of the season, EKU had just 191 rushing yards combined in those two losses. The Colonels had only 80 yards on the ground Saturday against UT-Martin, which is the lowest rushing total for the team in more than two years (Sept. 17, 2011 vs. Chattanooga).
“When you can’t run the ball, you’ve got no intermediate throws,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “That’s the problem. If you don’t run the ball, you can’t get anything underneath.”
Because of those lackluster performances, EKU has slipped to fourth in the OVC in rushing (188.5 yards a game).
The offensive downturn can be easily measured in several statistical categories.
EKU had just six turnovers during the four-game winning streak.
In the past two games, the Colonels have given the ball away seven times, including four turnovers in a 68-10 loss to Jacksonville State.
EKU had a season-low 11 first downs last week against the Skyhawks and converted only four-of-16 third-down opportunities.
In the past two games, the Colonels have allowed nine sacks. In the first nine games of the season, they gave up just 10 sacks.
Going into the Jacksonville State game, EKU was averaging 374.2 total yards a game. In the past two games, the Colonels have just 438 total yards, an average of only 219 yards a game.
EKU will try to get its offense back on track Saturday in the season finale at long-time rival Murray State. Last year, the Colonels racked up 666 total yards in a 55-24 win over the Racers at Roy Kidd Stadium.