Eastern Illinois played its opener with two expected starters out due to a suspension.
Running back Darshon McCullough and cornerback Mark Williams were suspended for an unspecified reason, which EIU head coach Adam Cushing called “team business.”
Each was listed as the starter and their respective position for the opener at Chattanooga. Cushing said both will be available Saturday when EIU travels to Indiana.
The Panthers had two other important players out last week due to injury.
Offensive tackle Aaron Miller was “a little dinged here and there,” Cushing said. Miller entered the season as the starting right tackle. Freshman Chad Strickland entered the starting lineup at left tackle, which kicked Cole Hoover from left to right tackle. Miller is expected to be available Saturday.
“With not enough practice reps under his belt, we just didn’t feel great, but he was ready to go for the game (last week) without enough reps,” Cushing said. “He’s made improvements physically.”
Wide receiver Matt Reyna missed the opener due to injury as well. His absence is the more likely of the two to span multiple games.
“We’re hoping to get him back sooner than later,” Cushing said.
Waiting on waivers
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South Dakota State transfer Isaiah Hill was listed as a starter at one of EIU’s wide receiver positions entering the Chattanooga game. That did not mean a waiver for immediate eligibility had been approved, though. Had one been approved in time, he would have started.
Now, he’s not listed on the two-deep heading into the Indiana game. A final ruling on his waiver has not been issued. The same goes for Idaho State transfer linebacker Nikola Wadsworth.
“We’re still waiting final word on both of them,” Cushing said. “But without final word, it’s a no.”
EIU’s updated roster featured a few jersey number changes from opening week.
Running back Jaelin Hayes-Benefield switched from No. 4 to 9, running back Chris Walker is now No. 13 after wearing 3, receiver DeWayne Cooks moved from No. 2 to 87. Freshman defensive lineman Dominic Moore changed from No. 56 to 94 and freshman kicker/punter Christiaan Masucci swapped No. 13 for 56, though neither played at Chattanooga.
PHOTOS: Eastern Illinois football
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Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor (1) flies into the air after being hit by Eastern Illinois safety Bryce Dewberry (2) during the first half of the Hoosier's win on Sept. 7 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.
Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor (1) makes a move with the ball on Eastern Illinois safety Iziah Gulley (7) during the first half of Indiana's 52-0 win over EIU on Saturday. The Panthers struggled to tackle and had a few coverage lapses, while their offense gained just 116 yards.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Johnathan Brantley scrambles in the backfield during the second half of EIU's 52-0 loss to Indiana on Saturday.
Chattanooga's Bryce Nunnelly runs to the end zone during his 59-yard touchdown catch as EIU's Edwyn Brown pursues during the teams' Aug. 29 season-opener. Nunnelly had 100 receiving yards and EIU lost, 24-10.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Johnathan Brantley takes a hit from Chattanooga linebacker Justin Sanders (42) during the Panthers' 24-10 loss on Aug. 29.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Johnathan Brantley (11) hands off to Courtney Rowell (22) during the Panthers' season-opening 24-10 loss to Chattanooga on Aug. 29
Eastern Illinois freshman cornerback J.J. Ross (23) defends wide receiver Ryan James in an August 2019 practice. Ross was a late arrival after a recruitment full of twists and turns, but instantly revealed why he was once held Power Five offers.
Eastern Illinois freshman running back Jaelin Hayes-Benefield (4) jogs off the O'Brien Field turf after a play in an August 2019 practice. EIU defensive coordinator Chris Bowers said of Benefield's speed: "It's that obvious. My 5-year-old son could tell you he's fast."
Eastern Illinois defensive coordinator Chris Bowers (right) coaches during a 2019 spring practice at O'Brien Stadium.
FILE: Eastern Illinois offensive coordinator John Kuceyeski coaches during a spring practice at O'Brien Stadium. EIU opened fall camp Thursday.
Eastern Illinois offensive coordinator John Kuceyeski talks with EIU's offensive players at a 2019 spring practice. Kuceyeski spent the last two years coaching offensive line at Cornell.
Eastern Illinois offensive line coach Dan Hernandez runs players through a drill during a spring 2019 practice.
New Eastern Illinois University football head coach Adam Cushing speaks to reporters after his introductory press conference on Dec. 10, 2018.
New Eastern Illinois University football head coach Adam Cushing speaks at press conference Dec. 10. Cushing is the 25th head football coach and sixth in the NCAA Division I history of the program at Eastern Illinois University.
Attendees listen to Adam Cushing at press conference Monday announcing him as the Eastern Illinois University Football head coach.
Eastern Illinois defensive tackle Terrell Greer (96) recovers a fumble in an October 2018 game against UT-Martin in Charleston. "He just lines up with his lunch pail," EIU head coach Adam Cushing said of Greer.
Eastern Illinois cornerback Mark Williams intercepts a pass during a game last year at O'Brien Field against Tennessee State. Cornerbacks coach Benny Boyd highlighted Williams as one of the standouts from spring practice.
EIU wide receiver Matt Reyna heads into 2019 in prime position to be a reliable target for the Panthers.
Contact Patrick Engel at (217) 238-6856. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickEngel_