Freshmen and Sophomores Shine in Final Scrimmage
Eastern’s football future was on display, while the starters rested up for EWU’s opener against the Washington Huskies on Sept. 3
Freshman running back Quincy Forte and sophomore receiver Ashton Clark each scored twice as Eastern Washington University concluded its second full week of preseason practices with a 44-play scrimmage Saturday (Aug. 27) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern’s starters all rested as the Eagles now begin preparation for next Saturday’s (Sept. 3) season opener in Seattle against Pac-12 Conference member Washington.
“That’s pretty common at this point in camp,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin of getting a chance to watch his younger players in action. “We usually don’t play the starters much, if at all. It gives us a chance to hit Monday and be as fresh as we possibly can for game week.
“And at the same time we get another look at players who are on that bubble for our travel squad, depth and special teams,” he added. “We want to see them playing in live action at the end of camp.”
Very few of EWU’s 15 returning starters and EWU’s 35 other letter winners back played on Saturday, leaving the bulk of the action to sophomores, redshirt freshmen and true freshmen. The offensive units had 255 yards of offense on 44 plays (5.8 per play) and scored four touchdowns, but the defense also had a trio of three-and-outs.
“We had a couple of three-and-outs, which is good to see from the young defense,” Baldwin said. “For our young offense it was a struggle at times, but at other times they operated well and moved the ball. In years past, sometimes you get to this point in camp and you feel like it ends up one-sided. It feels good to know that your young players and backups at all spots have good ability. We have good depth throughout the team and not just on one side of the ball.”
Senior quarterback Nick Gauthier, who is third on the depth chart, engineered a 15-play, 80-yard drive to open the scrimmage, capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Clark. Gauthier finished 6-of-7 for 35 yards on the drive, and true freshman running back Jordan Talley added 26 yards on the ground in his only action. Talley is expected to be one of just two or three true freshmen to not redshirt this fall.
Forte, also a true freshman, added touchdown runs of 11 and 2 yards, as he finished with 42 yards on eight carries. Freshman redshirt Cody Hecker from Sandpoint, Idaho, added 22 yards on 10 rushes.
True freshman Vernon Adams engineered scoring drives of 40 and 70 yards, and was 8-of-10 for 118 yards. He had a 25-yard TD pass to Clark, who had three catches for 38 yards. Freshman redshirt Trenton Pinson had four grabs for 61 yards, including a 33-yard catch and run on a pass from Adams.
Junior linebacker Rusty Haehl had seven tackles, and freshman redshirt linebacker John Goldwire and sophomore linebacker J.C. Agen added six each. Freshman redshirt linebacker Ronnie Hamlin added a pass broken up and four tackles, including a six-yard tackle for loss on one of the three-and-outs.
The Eagles will take Sunday off before beginning preparations for the Huskies, a member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and the Pac-12 Conference. Washington finished 7-6 overall and 5-4 in the league a year ago, just two years after a 0-12 campaign in 2008. The Huskies won their final four games last season, including a 19-7 Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska -- a team Washington lost to 56-21 earlier in the year.
Next week’s match-up – Washington’s first-ever meeting against a team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision – starts at 4:05 p.m. Pacific time and is televised live on Root Sports.
Eastern enters the 2011 season with more game experience and practice time than most teams, whose 2010 seasons ended last November. The Eagles played 15 games after ending the season with an 11-game winning streak to win the 2010 NCAA Division I title. With well more than an extra month of practice time under their belts, the Eagles finished the season on Jan. 7, 2011, with a come-from-behind 20-19 victory over Delaware in the national championship game.
Ashton Clark 3 pass from Nick Gauthier (Mike Jarrett kick)
Quincy Forte 11 run (Kevin Miller kick)
Clark 25 pass from Vernon Adams
Forte 2 run
Rushing: Jordan Talley 5-26, Quincy Forte 8-42, Cody Hecker 10-22, Nick Gauthier 2-12, Vernon Adams 4-6, Total 29-108.
Passing: Nick Gauthier 6-of-7 35 yards, Vernon Adams 8-of-10 118 yards, Nelson Fishback 1-of-2 minus-6 yards,Totals 15-of-19 147 yards.
Receiving: Ashton Clark 3-38, Greg Herd 3-21, Jordan Talley 2-minus-4, Jake Withnell 1-9, Trenton Pinson 4-61, Cody Hecker 1-0, Jason Boyce 1-22, Totals 15-147.
Leading Tackles: Rusty Haehl 7, John Goldwire 6, J.C. Agen 6, Chase King 5, Ronnie Hamlin 4, Alden Gibbs 4, Scott Burgett 3, Ethen Robinson 3, Jordan Tonani 3, Ashton Boothroyd 3.
Passes Broken Up: Ronnie Hamlin 1.