Eagles add emphasis on running game as EWU continues preparations for Aug. 30 opener at Idaho
The first glimpse of quarterback Kyle Padron was worth the wait for Eagle football fans, but the efforts in the running game were also a welcome sight.
The Southern Methodist University transfer passed for 214 yards and a touchdown in the Eastern Washington University football team’s first scrimmage of preseason practices Saturday (Aug. 18) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
But the Eagles also placed an added emphasis on its rushing attack, with junior Demitrius Bronson rushing for 41 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 71-play scrimmage. In all, Eastern rushed 25 times for 62 yards and four Eastern quarterbacks combined to complete 23-of-46 passes for 322 yards.
The defense contributed numerous big plays with four interceptions, five passes broken up and a pair of sacks.
“I really felt like there was a good rhythm in terms of plays being made on both sides of the ball, even though it was a very situational scrimmage which sometimes makes it a little harder to get into a rhythm,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “So I’m happy about that.”
Padron is EWU’s second-straight transfer from SMU, where he was a 21-game starter. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback passed for 5,902 yards and 41 touchdowns in his 24-game career at SMU. The last transfer from SMU, Bo Levi Mitchell, directed EWU to 19 victories, the national title in 2010 and won the Walter Payton Award as a senior in 2011.
Padron’s completions included a 55-yard touchdown strike to junior All-America receiver Brandon Kaufman, who also had a 2-yard TD reception later in the scrimmage.
Freshman redshirt Vernon Adams was 2-of-10 for nine yards and an interception, and Anthony Vitto was 5-of-6 for 37 yards and a TD. Padron also had an interception to go along with his impressive Eagle debut, but head coach Beau Baldwin has yet to name a starter at quarterback.
“It’s going to be a battle and it’s going to continue to be a battle,” he explained. “They’ve been feeding off each other and competing and it’s going to stay that way. We’re just going to let them keep competing.”
Bronson, who spent much of the 2011 season injured after transferring from the University of Washington, had a 28-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Quincy Forte rushed six times for 25 yards.
“No question we better be able to (run the ball),” said Baldwin, whose team led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing yards (368.4 per game) a year ago, but averaged just 79.0 on the ground. “If we end up throwing as much as we did last year, we may put up a lot of yards and gaudy numbers, but it’s not going to be championship football. You better have a little balance otherwise I don’t believe you can play late into December and championship type of football.”
Kaufman finished with three catches for 77 yards and All-America receiver Nicholas Edwards added three receptions for 43 yards. True freshman Cooper Kupp led all receivers with six grabs for 120 yards.
Defensively, junior safety Allen Brown had a key early interception and added a pair of tackles. Sophomore linebacker Cody McCarthy had seven stops to lead all tacklers.
“It was nice to see the defense making plays in terms of turnovers,” Baldwin said. “Allen Brown’s play was great, and I can’t fault the offense sometimes when a defender just makes a great play like Allen did. We were able to get some turnovers and force some stops.”
The Eagles, who won the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship and have been to the FCS Playoffs in five of the last eight years, will scrimmage one more time before the team’s season opener on Aug. 30 at Idaho. That scrimmage will is scheduled for next Thursday (Aug. 23) at about 12:40 p.m., also at Roos Field. The scrimmage is free and open to the public as Baldwin and his coaching staff continue to evaluate talent on a daily basis.
“We’re not going to put all the stock into one practice -- this was still a practice,” he said of Saturday’s scrimmage. “People don’t get to see how they did yesterday or the day before. We grade them all through camp not just one scrimmage.”
Demitrius Bronson 28 run (Jimmy Pavel kick)
Brandon Kaufman 55 pass from Kyle Padron (Pavel Kick)
Brandon Kaufman 13 pass from Anthony Vito (Pavel Kick)
Demitrius Bronson 2 run (Pavel Kick)
Jimmy Pavel 24 Field Goal
Rushing: Demitrius Bronson 8-41, Quincy Forte 6-25, Jordan West 2-16, Nick Washburn 3-12, Cody Hecker 2-2, Jabari Wilson 1-0, Vernon Adams 1-minus-5, Anthony Vitto 2-minus-12, Totals 25-62.
Passing: Kyle Padron 15-of-25-214-1 interception, Vernon Adams 2-of-10-9-1 interception, Anthony Vitto 5-of-6-37-0 interceptions, Jordan West 1-of-5-62-2 interceptions, Totals 23-of-46-322-4 interceptions.
Receiving: Cooper Kupp 6-120, Brandon Kaufman 3-77, Nicholas Edwards 3-43, Ashton Clark 2-7, Greg Herd 2-14, Cory Mitchell 2-38, Terry Jackson 1-6, Daniel Johnson 1-5, Nick Washburn 1-5, Demitrius Bronson 1-2, Totals 22-317.
Tackles Leaders: Cody McCarthy 7, Isaiah Jenkins 5, Grant Williams 4, Ronald Baines 4, Ronnie Hamlin 4, Jeff Minnerly 3, Allen Brown 2, Scott Burgett 2, Christian Hudnell 2, Todd Raynes 2, Cedric Gonzalez 2, Tyler Washburn 2.
Passes Broken Up: Ronald Baines 2, Christian Hudnell, T.J. Lee III, Cody McCarthy.
Interceptions: Allen Brown, Diamonte Wiggins, Jordan Thompson, Todd Raynes.
Sacks: Zach Johnson, Jerry Ceja.
Tentative Schedule of Remaining EWU Practices
(Times are subject to change. Location will either be the Sports and Recreation Center practice fields or Roos Field. Practices usually last for two hours. Media interviews take place after practice and scrimmages, or 20-30 minutes before the practice time listed; No interviews two days or less before day of games)
Sunday, Aug. 19 – Off
Monday, Aug. 20 – 10:30 a.m. & 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 21 - 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 22 - 9 a.m. & 3 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 23 - Scrimmage, approx. 12:20 p.m., Roos Field
Friday, Aug. 24 – Off
Saturday, Aug. 25 – 4 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 26 – 5:45 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 27 – 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 28 – 5:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 29 - 4 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 30 – at Idaho, 6:05 p.m.