Eastern Illinois Panthers
Ohio Valley Conference
Head Coach: Adam Cushing who replaces Kim Dameron (contract not renewed for 2019)
Overall Record: 3-8
Conference Record: 3-5
Biggest Win: The Panthers put all phases of the game together Nov. 10 in a 52-21 romp over Austin Peay on Senior Day at O'Brien Field. EIU finished the day with 216 yards rushing and 404 yards of total offense. The Panther defense forced three turnovers and recorded three sacks.
Most Frustrating Loss: Eastern let a 24-3 second quarter lead slip away and ultimately fell 41-40 to Tennessee State when the Tigers blocked Nick Bruno's 47-yard field goal attempt in the game's waning moments.
Quotable & Notable: "For whatever reason, they decided to make a change. I gave them an excuse to let me go by only winning three games this year. I am proud of all I did here and of all of the kids."
--Kim Dameron told Justin Rust following his Nov. 18 dismissal as EIU head coach
Returning strengths for 2019: The Panthers return two experienced quarterbacks in Jonathan Brantley and Harry Woodbery. The question is: Will the new coaching staff prefer to play one or continue to use both as Dameron's staff did in '18? Meanwhile, veteran linebackers Joe Caputo and Dytarious Johnson headline the defense.
Emerging Star: Tight end James Sheehan surfaced as a key pass-catching target. The redshirt senior will be EIU's top returning receiver next fall with 50 receptions for 544 yards and three touchdowns.
Giving Thanks: Panther player Scotty Gilkey, Jr. and his girlfriend organized both a toy drive and a school supply drive for the Charleston community.
New Year's Wish List: A retooled defense that limited opposing offenses and a consistent running game would go a long way to EIU success in the win column.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: All-conference receiver Alexander Hollins and sidekick Aaron Gooch combined for 145 catches and 21 touchdowns.
Next up: Barry Bottino explores Five Burning Questions that face EIU football for 2019.