#3 Eastern Plays at Improved Idaho State
With showdown with #5 Montana State looming on Nov. 9, Eagles can't afford to overlook team coached by former EWU head coach Mike Kramer
#3 Eastern Washington Univ. "Eagles"
Idaho State University "Bengals"
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 • 2:05 p.m. Pacific
Holt Arena (12,000) • Pocatello, Idaho
Gameday Central: www.goeags.com/gamedaycentral
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington '96)
School Record: 50-21/34-10 Big Sky Conference (6th Season)
Career Record: 60-24 (7th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011, 11-3 in 2012)
2013: 6-2/4-0 Big Sky
2012: 11-3/7-1 Big Sky Conference (co-champ; FCS Playoffs semifinals)
Last Game: #3 EWU 42, #10 Montana 37 (Oct. 26 in Missoula, Mont.)
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 23rd season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen and sideline commentary by Keith Osso. Osso will also serve as host of the Washington Trust Bank Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com\
Radio iPhone App: Search for "700 ESPN" and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: ewulive.statb.us (web) or ewustats.com (mobile phones)
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at "Epic" at Northern Quest Resort & Casino (formerly the "Q") . . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for "Spokane Radio" and download app).
Watch Parties: Consult EWU social media outlets for details the Friday before games. Those who may carry EWU games include "Epic" at Northern Quest Casino and Resort in Airway Heights, the Swinging Doors in North Spokane and at Eagles Pub in Cheney.
Former Eagle head coach Mike Kramer has been in Beau Baldwin's shoes before.
Baldwin's third-ranked Eastern Washington University football team will try to avoid an upset bid by the Kramer-coached Idaho State Bengals this Saturday (Nov. 2) in a Big Sky Conference game in Pocatello, Idaho. Kickoff between EWU and ISU is 2:05 p.m. Pacific time at Holt Arena.
Eastern will try for its fifth-straight win this week when the 6-2 Eagles face the 3-5 Bengals. Kramer, who was Eastern's head coach from 1994-99, led the 1997 Eagles to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. And along the way to a 12-2 season and outright league title, his team faced many a league challenge along the way. Most notable was a 17-7 loss at Montana State and a 40-35 victory at Montana.
Idaho State was just 2-9 and 1-10 in Kramer's first two years at the helm, and Baldwin sees a noticeable difference in this year's ISU squad.
"A lot of credit goes to Coach Kramer for the difference you are able to see one year to the next," said Baldwin. "You see it in all facets of their team, and that says a lot about the development they have made. It's going to be war and a great challenge."
Following last week's rout-turned-nailbiter at then No. 10 Montana by a 42-37 score, Eastern is currently tied atop the Big Sky standings at 4-0 with Montana State. The Eagles and fifth-ranked Bobcats will square off on Nov. 9 in Cheney in a game with huge league and national implications.
But before that, the Eagles have to get by ISU, now 1-4 in the league after last week's 19-9 loss at Southern Utah. Montana State is at Northern Colorado.
The Eagles remain third in The Sports Network FCS top-25 poll, just behind No. 2 Eastern Illinois and top-ranked North Dakota State. Montana State is fifth, Montana is 12th and Northern Arizona is 14th. The Eagles are seeking a seventh league title, with previous titles in 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2012.
After this week's game, the Eagles host fifth-ranked Montana State and play at Cal Poly before ending the regular season at home against Portland State on Nov. 23. Eastern's non-conference resume this season has included a 49-46 victory at Pac-12 Conference member Oregon State, and narrow road losses to Toledo (33-21) and Sam Houston State (49-34).
The Bengals defeated Dixie State and Western State to open the season, but their lone FCS win was on Oct. 12 against Northern Colorado by a 40-26 score. Eastern didn't play the Bengals last season, and are 24-9 all-time against ISU dating back to 1947. Eastern has won the last six meetings, and hasn't lost to ISU since the Bengals won 34-30 in Pocatello in 2005.
"They've improved everywhere," praised Baldwin. "They've added a dimension of being able to run the ball and they've always been dynamic throwing the ball. Defensively they are playing so much better as a group – they are sound in what they do and are holding teams to a low number of points. Their defense has really made leaps and bounds in terms of what they are doing schematically.
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EWU Football Web Page - http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/index
EWU Football News & Notes - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2013-14/news
Link to Football Ticket & RV Parking Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
Big Sky Conference Football - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=football&path=football
Spokane Spokesman-Review EWU Football Page - http://www.spokesman.com/eagles
700 ESPN – http://700espn.com
The Sports Network (FCS Football) - http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/indexpic.htm
NCAA FCS Football - http://www.ncaafootball.com/DivisionIFCS.aspx
NCAA Statistics (2013) - http://stats.ncaa.org/rankings?sport_code=MFB&division=12
NCAA Statistics (2012) - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2012
College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
College Sports Journal - http://www.college-sports-journal.com
College Football Performance Awards – http://www.collegefootballperformance.com
College Sports Madness - http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/fcs-football
* No tickets are currently available for Eastern's game on Nov. 9 versus Montana State, which will feature a crowd of upwards of 10,000 at the Inferno. However, the release of tickets from group holds is possible and availability will be announced via EWU's social media outlets.
* Reaching a milestone and equaling a school record against Montana, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin is now 50-21 in five-plus seasons as a head coach (2008-13) and 34-10 in Big Sky Conference games. His .773 winning percentage in league games is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks seventh in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference. His 34 Big Sky victories is tied for the EWU record with the EWU head coach he previously served under, Paul Wulff (2000-2007). Baldwin's .704 percentage overall is 11th in league history, just ahead of Montana State's Rob Ash, who is 56-24 overall (.700 to rank 12th in BSC history) and 39-13 in league games (.750 to rank ninth).
* Eastern's game at North Dakota on Oct. 12 was Eastern's 200th Big Sky Conference game since joining the league in 1987. As the Big Sky celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, the Eagles are in their 26th year as a member and have a current record of 116-85 (.577). The Eagles are only two wins away from their 500th victory all-time. Now in its 105th year of football, Eastern is 498-401-23 (.553) in 922 games.
* Ranked for the 24th-consecutive time, Eastern remained third this week in The Sports Network Top 25 FCS Poll released Monday (Oct. 28). Eastern is behind top-ranked North Dakota State and Eastern Illinois, but is ahead of fourth-ranked Sam Houston State and No. 5 Montana State. Other Big Sky schools in this week's rankings include Montana (#12) and Northern Arizona (#14). Eastern is fourth in the FCS Coaches Poll, followed by MSU (#5), Montana (#13) and NAU (#14).
* For the second time this season, sophomore quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Vernon Adams earned National Player of the Week honors from College Sports Madness. He completed 27-of-40 passes for a career-high 457 yards, ranking as the fifth-most in school history. His six TDs tied the school record set on five previous occasions, including once by Adams in the second half alone of last year's loss in the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
* Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp, a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award given to the top Freshman in FCS, earned Co-Freshman of the Week honors from The Sports Network for his performance against Montana on Oct. 26. He was also the FCS Wide Receiver Performer of the Week as selected by College Performance Awards. He has 11 TD catches (third in FCS) on just 44 catches this season – a TD for every 4.0 catches so far this year. He is averaging 17.7 yards per catch (44-777). In each of his last two games -- Southern Utah on Oct. 19 and Montana -- Kupp had 11 catches to equal the 12th-best in school history tied with 10 others, including teammate Ashton Clark with 11 grabs versus SUU a year ago. Kupp finished with 168 yards and a score against the Thunderbirds and versus the Grizzlies he had two touchdowns and 182 yards to rank 18th all-time at EWU. Kupp had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as an Eagle against Oregon State on Aug. 31. He spent part of the summer in 2013 working at the Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach. While in high school he previously attended the camp, which is run by Archie Manning, the father of NFL quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning. Archie is a former New Orleans Saints teammate of Cooper's grandfather, Jake Kupp.
* For the 11th time in his career, senior linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award candidate Ronnie Hamlin finished with double digits in tackles with 10 in EWU's 42-37 victory over Montana. He helped the Eagles hold Montana to 140 rushing yards, well below the 214.6 the Grizzlies were averaging entering the game and the 407 they had against EWU a year ago. In the decisive third quarter when EWU took a 42-17 lead, Eastern out-gained the Grizzlies in total offense 214-46.
* Vernon Adams is ranked No. 1 again this week in passing efficiency in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. With a 67.3 percent completion rate (171-of-254 to rank eighth in FCS), 2,646 yards (fourth), 30 touchdowns (second) and eight interceptions for the season, he has a rating of 187.5. Eastern also leads the nation with a 184.8 team rating. Adams is third in FCS in points responsible for with an average of 25.0 per game (total of 200 to rank second, with 30 TD passes, three rushing touchdowns and one two-point conversion). He is also third in FCS in total offense (372.5) and fifth in passing yards (330.8 per game).
* In other individual national rankings, redshirt freshman receiver Cooper Kupp is third in FCS with 11 touchdown receptions, and is also 14th in receiving yards per game (97.1, with a total of 777 to rank 12th) and 41st in receptions (5.5 per game, with a total of 44). Senior receiver Ashton Clark is 30th in receiving yards (85.5 per game, with a total of 684 to rank 26th) and 41st in receptions (5.5 per game, with a total of 44). Senior cornerback T.J. Lee, who is now tied for the school record for career forced fumbles with six, has three this season to rank 12th in FCS in average per game (0.38). He also is 18th in fumble recoveries per game (0.38), with a total of three.
* As a team, EWU is leading FCS in passing efficiency (184.8), and is eighth in total offense (503.1 per game), sixth in passing (340.6), 65th in rushing (162.5) and 19th in scoring (37.4). Defensively, EWU is 85th in total defense (417.8), 60th in rushing (168.9), 100th in passing (248.9) and 70th in scoring (27.8). In addition, the Eagles are the 12th-most efficient team in red zone offense (89.3 scoring percentage) and seventh in third-down conversions (50.0 percent).
* Justin Arias from Idaho State is ranked sixth in FCS in passing yards per game (324.8, with 2,598 overall to rank fifth) and is 72nd in passing efficiency (121.7). Luke Austin is sixth in receptions per game (7.7, with a total of 46 in six games played) and is fifth in receiving yards per game (111.2, with a total of 667). Cameron Richmond has a team-leading 48 catches, and is 23rd in receptions per game (6.0) and 52nd in receiving yards per game (73.6, with a total of 589 to rank 14th). Kicker Brendon Garcia is third in FCS with an average of 1.6 field goals per game (total of 13 in 18 attempts). Idaho State is 51st in total offense (399.5), 10th in passing (325.0), 116th in rushing (74.5) and 80th in scoring (23.3). Defensively, the Bengals are 86th in total defense (417.9), 79th in passing (236.3), 75th in rushing (181.6) and 62nd in scoring (26.9).
* Eastern has had 10 of its 16 sacks in the last three games, with those 10 recorded by eight different players. For the season, 12 players have been in on sacks. A year ago, 15 Eagles contributed toward EWU's total of 33.
* Eastern has outscored opponents 175-99 in the first half and have had leads at intermission in all of its wins. Eastern is 0-2 when it trails at halftime and the Eagles have a slight 124-123 scoring edge in the second half.
* The Eagles have already won a nailbiter in 2013, and have now won 12 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. Besides a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State in 2013, Eastern won three in 2012 (Montana, Montana State, UC Davis), two in 2011 and six in the 2010 national title season.
* Eastern's 49-46 victory at No. 25 Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, was just the fourth time since the division was created in 1978 that a FCS (formerly known as I-AA) team defeated a ranked FBS opponent. The other times that feat occurred came in 1983 (Cincinnati def. #20 Penn State 14-3), 2007 (Appalachian State def. #5 Michigan 34-32) and 2010 (James Madison def. #13 Virginia Tech 21-16).
* Sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and several other Eagles helped at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy in Spokane this past summer. Adams and Wilson – the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks -- are similar in stature and ability, and will continue to draw comparisons as Adams' career progresses. Adams, in fact, is now wearing jersey No. 3 for the Eagles – the same number Wilson wears -- after donning No. 16 as a redshirt freshman last season. The switch is unrelated to Wilson -- Adams wore No. 3 in high school and asked for that number after it became available when wide receiver Greg Herd graduated.
* Team co-captains for the 2013 season include a quartet of seniors from high schools in the state of Washington -- center Ashton Miller, senior wide receiver Ashton Clark, senior safety Allen Brown and junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin. The players were selected by a vote of their teammates.
* A total of 15 Eastern players were honored on preseason All-America lists, All-Big Sky Conference teams and positional rankings released this summer by NCAA Football Championships Subdivision media outlets. Preseason All-America accolades were received by cornerback T.J. Lee III, offensive lineman Steven Forgette and linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, who was also named to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS.
* Eastern, which ranked fourth in the final regular season Sports Network Top-25 poll and was seeded second in the playoffs, finished the 2012 season 11-3. It was the fourth 10+ win in school history (joining the 2010, 1997 and 1967 squads), and came on the heels of EWU's sixth Big Sky Conference Championship in football. Eastern entered the 2013 season ranked fourth in The Sports Network preseason Top-25 poll, and was ranked third by the coaches.
* The Eagles are one of just five schools in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision to advance to the playoffs six times in the last nine seasons (2004-2012), and EWU hopes to add to that this year. Eastern's 2012 season ended with a 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in the semifinals, denying the Eagles a repeat trip to Texas to play for the NCAA Division I title they won in 2010.
* Among the returning letterwinners are seven starters on offense and 5 1/2 on defense, as well as the school's punter and kickoff specialist. Three All-Americans (linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, cornerback T.J. Lee, offensive guard Steven Forgette) and three others who earned Freshman All-America accolades (quarterback Vernon Adams, safety Jordan Tonani and return specialist Shaquille Hill) are among the returning players. Tonani, a seven game starter in 2012, will miss the 2013 season because of hip surgery.
* Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin is back for his sixth season at the helm after being selected as one of 20 coaches on the voting list for the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award, given to the national coach of the year in FCS. He finished fifth in the voting, and was also the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year for the first time. Baldwin has now been a part of four Big Sky Conference championships as either an Eastern assistant coach (2004, 2005) or head coach (2010, 2012). In addition, he has been a part of five FCS Playoff berths – two as an assistant (2004, 2005) and three in four seasons as head coach (2009, 2010, 2012). In receiving the Big Sky Coach of the Year honor for the first time, Baldwin is the fourth coach in school history to win the award. His predecessor, Paul Wulff, won in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Current Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer won in 1997 and Dick Zornes was Eastern's first in 1992. The Eagles won league titles and advanced to the playoffs in all of those years except for 2001. Baldwin coached in his 100th Eastern game when the Eagles rallied to beat Montana 32-26 earlier in the 2012 season.
* Ronnie Hamlin's long hair has been a trademark of his, and a friendly wager between teammates lasted three years. During the 2010 season, Hamlin and safety Jeff Minnerly challenged each other to see who could go the longest without cutting their hair. Linebacker Zach Johnson was also in on the wager, but dropped out after EWU won the NCAA Division I title. Minnerly eventually cut his hair on Dec. 17, 2012 -- just two days after his career and the 2012 season concluded -- and donated the hair to Locks of Love.
* The top plays and honors of sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams have been encapsulated in a new web site located at www.BigPlayVA.com. Featured are some of the top plays by Adams, including his incredible scramble and touchdown throw against Sacramento State on Oct. 20, 2012, which was one of eight finalists for the GEICO Play of the Year. His game-winning touchdown run against Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, is also on the site. He had a school-record of 518 yards of total offense in the 49-46 upset over the Beavers in only the fourth-ever win by a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision school over a ranked member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The many accolades Adams won as a result of the OSU victory are also featured, as well as an interview on the Jim Rome Show. His complete bio, statistics and information on EWU tickets and the Gateway Project are also prominent.
Quoting Coach Baldwin
On ISU Passing Game: "They have two receivers doing more of the work, and that makes it tougher. It's not a matter of being able to focus in on one player – we have to do a great job stopping their offense as a whole. Their quarterback does a great job, and the added dimension of their running game gives them the ability to keep teams more off balance than in the past."
On EWU Offense Against ISU: "If we can't win the war up front, Idaho State is going to be a good spot. But if we can do a good job handling their defensive line, it will open up our playbook. Our offensive line has tough task ahead of them because their defensive line has been a big key in some of their increased success on defense. That's where it starts – if you are going have success on defense it starts up front and works its way back. That's a big change in their team from the last couple of years to now – we see a big improvement."
On Getting 50th EWU Win in Missoula: "It wasn't anything I was thinking about before the game, but after the fact it was a pretty cool deal to end up hitting that 50th win in that stadium. I have so much respect for the Montana program and that atmosphere."
On EWU's First Win in Missoula Since 2005: "It's hard to win at Montana and put up points on that defense. And they have a great offense as well, and they got rolling in the end. But our players found a way to win in Missoula, and that's what counts."
On Importance of Winning in Missoula to Seniors: "Twice in your career you get an opportunity to play there. To get that victory for our seniors was special, and now our program has beaten Montana three of the last four years. It's been a long time (since 1992) that Eastern has beaten Montana in back-to-back seasons. There are a lot of things from that victory that are special to our seniors and program."
On Big Plays in First Three Quarters Versus UM: "We just needed to make a couple of them in the fourth quarter – we were just a little off in that quarter. But it was a huge effort and great job by our entire team. Missoula is a tough place to win against a good and very well-coached football team. We're happy to come up with a W. It's my first time winning in this stadium as a head coach, and we've been on the end of a couple of tough, close ones in my other two years here as head coach. To be on this end of a close one feels pretty good."
On Importance of Montana Win in FCS: "It was a huge league game and it had national implications. Whether we are from the same league or not, it was a game between two top 10 teams. Our players embrace coming into (tough) environments and love the challenge of that. We loved the challenge going into this and we knew it was going to be tough to find a way to win."
On Vernon Adams: "People want to look at the big plays and those are great, but we have a player with guts to take shots and go for it. If he gets a pick or two, so be it. But he has the guts to go win games and stand in there. Sometimes when quarterbacks are so athletic like Vernon, they don't get the credit for being a 68 percent passer and standing in the pocket and taking shots. That's what I appreciate so much. He's right up there with Matt Nichols for being the smartest quarterback I've had as a sophomore in terms of thinking quick, his understanding and getting things right on the field. It's a lot of fun to coach that type of player."
On Preseason Schedule: "This was definitely the toughest preseason schedule we've had since I've been here in terms of the first four games. But I invite it – I love it. It's helped us be battle-tested because we've been in some serious wars. It's tough and it's a challenge. We were put on a stage on the road against one of the top teams at our level and now we have move forward in a very tough conference."
On Being Fourth FCS School to Defeat a Ranked FBS Team: "It's big and shines a light on our program, even more than before. I'm not going to undersell it – it's huge for the program and what it does in recruiting and the image of who we are."
On Victory Over No. 25 Oregon State: "I'm proud of our players. We've come up short before in games like this, but I'm proud when I see them out there fighting, not getting wide-eyed and attacking the situation. When things don't go right, we want them to be ready to respond. And our team did that against a very good Oregon State football team. Winning the ballgame is huge, but I was just proud of how our team handled every situation that came up in the game."
On Coaching Eagle Players: "The best part about coaching to me is working with 18 to 23-year-old student-athletes and getting a chance to make an impact in their lives. We get to watch them grow, and it's fun to be a part of that process. The culture and attitude that has been built over the years has grown to a new level. We've had great players and leaders here before, but this group has learned from past teams and players on how to prepare in the offseason and what to do in the summer. The makeup and mental attitude of our players has grown. If you have that, you have a chance to be successful and the more enjoyable it is to coach."
Defense (215 starts by 18 players): Allen Brown 34, Ronnie Hamlin 30, T.J. Lee 28, Ronald Baines 22, Andru Pulu 21, Anthony Larry 15, Cody McCarthy 13, Evan Day 11, Will Katoa 10, J.C. Agen 8, Tevin McDonald 7, Jordan Tonani 7, Miquiyah Zamora 4, Zackary Johnson 1, Todd Raynes 1, Dylan Zylstra 1, Miles Weatheroy 1, Christian Hudnell 1.
Offense (262 starts by 25 players): Steven Forgette 39, Brandon Murphy 31, Zack Gehring 28, Ashton Miller 23, Clay DeBord 21, Vernon Adams 17, Ashton Clark 12, Quincy Forte 12, Demitrius Bronson 9, Jordan Talley 9, Cooper Kupp 8, Drew Reynolds 8, Cory Mitchell 7, Ryan Seto 7, Cassidy Curtis 6, Mario Brown 5, Jake Withnell 5, Shaquille Hill 3, Cody Humphrey 2, Daniel Johnson 2, Jase Butorac 2, Jake Rodgers 2, Jabari Wilson 2, Zach Wimberly 1, T.J. Boatright 1.
* Only four positions had players making their first starts as Eagles against Oregon State, and two were manned by former starters in the Pac-12 Conference. Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp started at wide receiver and redshirt freshman Jabari Wilson started at running back. Jake Rodgers, a 12-game starter at Washington State last season, started at right tackle in his Eagle starting debut. The other Eagle starting debut was by safety Tevin McDonald, who started 24 games the past two seasons at UCLA. Sophomore wide receiver Shaquille Hill made the first start of his career in EWU's second game of the season against Western Oregon, and offensive tackle Cassidy Curtis and fullback/tight end Zach Wimberly made their first starts at Toledo. Linebacker Miquiyah Zamora made the first start of his career against Weber State and responded with five tackles (1 1/2 for loss) and had his first career interception, which led to an EWU touchdown. Against North Dakota, safety Todd Raynes and defensive end Zackary Johnson made the first starts of their careers. Raynes had a team-high seven tackles with a pass broken up in his debut, and Johnson finished with three tackles.
Defensive lineman Will Katoa (knee), linebacker J.C. Agen (quadricep) and safeties Allen Brown (hamstring) and Todd Raynes (hamstring) were all injured against Montana. Raynes is listed as out for this week's game at Idaho State and the other three are listed as doubtful by head coach Beau Baldwin. Brown has played 48 of a possible 48 games in his career, and is nearing the school record of 51. Wide receiver and kickoff returner Shaquille Hill (knee sprain), who was injured against North Dakota and did not play versus Southern Utah, played against Montana on Oct. 26 and had an 86-yard touchdown catch. Starting offensive tackle Jake Rodgers (knee sprain) and running back Jabari Wilson (shoulder) were both injured against Western Oregon on Sept. 7, but both returned to play against Montana after missing five games each. Another running back now available is Jalen Moore, who missed the North Dakota and Southern Utah games with a hip pointer and kidney stones. He was not on the travel roster for the Montana game. Defensive lineman Jordan Pulu had arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 29 and made his season debut against Weber State on Oct. 5. But he suffered a shoulder injury in that game and will have surgery. He is expected to apply for a medical hardship to receive his year of eligibility back. True freshman wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (ankle) missed the UND game but played against Southern Utah and caught a 31-yard TD pass. Offensive lineman Drew Reynolds (knee) also made his season debut against WSU after missing EWU's first five games. Running back Demitrius Bronson (high ankle sprain) suited up versus Toledo, but sat out for the third-straight game. He carried five times and scored twice in his season debut against Sam Houston State on Sept. 28. Running back Quincy Forte (hamstring) missed the Oregon State game, but returned to rush for 99 yards against Western Oregon. Senior tight end Cody Humphrey suffered a dislocated patella in practice on Aug. 21 and required surgery, and is out for the season. As a result, defensive lineman Zach Wimberly was moved to tight end, and Ryan Seto will play as both a wide receiver and tight end. Before the season began, freshman All-America safety and Ferris HS graduate Jordan Tonani began surgical treatment for a hip ailment that will cost him the 2013 season. Tonani's painful hip injury is called hip joint acetabular impingement, and the ailment requires surgery to both hips with six months of rehabilitation required for each. His first surgery on his left hip took place on July 29, and also included a labral tear that was repaired. He had the second surgery on his right hip on Sept. 16. He would have competed for a starting position at safety, but should return fully healthy in spring 2014.
* Currently on the 2013 Buck Buchanan Watch List, senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin has 281 tackles already in his 33-game EWU career (30 starts) to rank 10th in school history. He is just seven tackles from Julian Williams (1997-200) and the No. 9 position. Hamlin also has three career interceptions, and his momentum-changing 77-yard return for a touchdown against North Dakota (10/12/13) was the 10th-longest in school history. With UND driving for a potential game-tying score late in the third quarter, he leaped high to snag the third interception of his career, ran over one would-be tackler, then returned it down the sideline for his first pick-six as an Eagle. Despite being listed as a senior, Hamlin will eventually apply to the NCAA to receive his sixth year. After redshirting the 2009 season because of the bum knee, the injury also kept him from playing during Eastern's national championship season in 2010. If he does get the extra year back, he could challenge the school record of 432 tackles set by 2010 Buck Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt. Hamlin earned All-America honors in 2012 from Phil Steele Publications (fourth team) and was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He had 136 tackles in 2012 to rank fifth in school history, and his average of 9.71 per game ranked 31st in FCS and fourth in the Big Sky.
* Senior cornerback T.J. Lee now has 200 tackles, three interceptions, 18 passes broken up and 3 1/2 sacks in his 42-game career (28 starts). He is just the 35th Eagle in school history to finish with 200 career tackles. He shares the school record with five other Eagles for most career forced fumbles with six, and his 18 passes broken up ranks ninth. Three times in his career he has forced and recovered the same fumble, with two of them occurring on quarterback sacks. One of those three came this season against North Dakota (10/12/13) when he also finished with six tackles and a pass broken up. Lee earned All-America honors in 2012 from The Sports Network (second team), and was also honored on the College Sporting News "Fabulous 50" All-America squad. He piled up some impressive statistics in 2012, ranking third on the team with 90 tackles and finishing with 11 passes broken up to rank 10th in school history. His average of 6.4 tackles per game ranked 29th in the Big Sky and his total of 11 passes broken up were second. The two-time first team All-Big Sky selection also had 2 1/2 sacks, nine total tackles for loss, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As a sophomore in 2011, Lee was a first team All-Big Sky selection, finishing the season with 48 tackles, a pair of interceptions and one pass broken up.
* Senior offensive guard Steven Forgette earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2012 from the College Sports Journal and second team All-Big Sky accolades. He was also named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team. Despite missing most of the 2011 season because of an injury, Forgette's 39 career starts are the most among all Eastern players. The only game he didn't start in his 40-game career was to allow a senior to start on Senior Day in 2010. Forgette helped EWU rank seventh in the FCS in 2012 in passing yards per game (318.9), 14th overall in total offense (442.0) and 17th in scoring (33.7). He started all 14 Eastern games at left offensive guard a year after breaking his fibula against Montana (9/17/11) and missing the rest of the season. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a redshirt freshman in 2010 when the Eagles won the NCAA Division I title.
* Vernon Adams currently has a career passing efficiency rating of 175.3 which ranks as the school record (64.4 percent, 4,607 yards, 50 TD, 16 INT). A starter in 17 of the 20 games he has played in his career, Adams has a career average of 230.4 passing yards per game to currently fifth all-time at EWU. His 50 TD passes are already fifth, his 4,607 yards are 10th and his 5,283 yards of total offense are seventh. He is now 14-3 as a starter, with his lone losses coming against Southern Utah in 2012 and Toledo and Sam Houston State in 2013. Adams was selected as the Freshman of the Year on the College Sporting News "Fabulous 50" All-America team in 2012, and was also on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad. Adams was also one of 20 players on the ballot for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in FCS by The Sports Network (he finished sixth in the voting, which occurred prior to the playoffs). Adams ranked fourth in FCS in passing efficiency (160.80), and was the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. His efficiency rating also ranked fourth all-time in school history. In nine games as a starter and three as a sub, he completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
* The Eagles finished seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game) in 2012, as returning starter Vernon Adams combined with Kyle Padron to lead EWU to the school record for passing yards. The Eagles finished with 4,469 yards, breaking the previous record of 4,102 yards in 2005. Padron started five games and played six others as a sub, and completed 59.1 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,491 yards, 17 TDs and seven interceptions, and ranked 29th in FCS in passing yards per game (226.5). In back-to-back games in the FCS Playoffs, each had a school-record six touchdown passes -- Padron versus Illinois State (12/8/12) in the quarterfinals and Adams against Sam Houston State (12/15/12) in the semifinals. Adams completed 14-of-26 passes for 364 yards – all after intermission --- as EWU scored 42 points in the second half to rally from a 35-0 halftime deficit and nearly pull off an improbable rally.
* Despite standing just 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, senior safety Allen Brown has played in 48 of 48 games in his career (34 as a starter), and is just three games behind the school record of 51 shared by three players. He has career totals of 218 tackles, four interceptions and 14 passes broken up. He is the 34th Eagle in school history to finish with 200 career tackles, and currently ranks 23rd. He needs four passes broken up to rank on EWU's top 10 list in that category. He has 34 career starts, ranking first on the defense and second overall (Steven Forgette has 39). At the end of spring practices, Brown was the recipient on defense of the "Iron Eagle" Award for achievements in the off-season in strength and conditioning and the classroom. He finished second on the team with 91 tackles in 2012 to help him earn second team All-Big Sky honors. Brown was also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles. His average of 6.5 tackles per game in 2012 ranked 28th in the Big Sky. He was also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles.
* Returning players Ashton Miller and Jordan Talley were selected to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District VIII squad, which is selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). They joined Eastern senior safety Jeff Minnerly, who "three-peated" on the squad. Miller, a senior offensive center, has a 3.67 GPA and is majoring in business administration. Talley is a sophomore linebacker who formerly played running back, and is a pre-medicine major with a 3.55 GPA. Eastern football players have now been honored 56 times since 1989 on the All-District VIII squad, and eight players have gone on to win 10 Academic All-America honors. The District VIII university division includes all NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from nine western states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
* Redshirt freshman Shaquille Hill currently has the sixth-best career kickoff return average in school history (25.8) and is seventh in kickoff return yards (1,085). He was a member of the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America team and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2012. Hill, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota (10/6/12), finished ranked 17th in FCS with an average of 26.8 yards per kickoff return. On EWU's single season leaders lists, he finished the 2012 season ranked in the top 10 in kickoff returns (third, 34), kickoff return yards (second, 912) and kickoff return average (10th, 26.8). As a backup wide receiver, he caught seven passes for 66 yards. Hill would have had another TD in the FCS Playoffs against Illinois State (12/8/12), but the video replay official determined he dropped the ball a yard shy of the end zone and it became a non-scoring 93-yard return. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors. As a team, Eastern was 14th in FCS with a 23.5 average, as Cory Mitchell added a non-scoring 67-yard return in the Illinois State (12/8/12) game.
* The 43.3 career punting average of sophomore Jake Miller currently ranks as a school record, placing him ahead of the 42.3 average of Jesse Nicassio (2002-03). He has had 23 punts of 50 yards or more in his career and 10 of at least 55, including a school-record 74-yarder. He owns eight punts ranked in the top 34 in school history, with boots of 74, 59 (twice) and 57 (five times). Named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team in 2012, Miller had a school-record 74-yard punt versus Washington State (9/8/12), breaking the previous record of 71 set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers. Miller's average of 43.3 yards per punt in 2012 ranks third all-time in EWU history, just behind his No. 2 ranking with a 44.2 average in 2011 (the school record is 44.4). Of his 40 punts in 2012, six were for at least 50 yards and 15 were downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
* Junior safety Tevin McDonald had 135 tackles in 27 career games (24 as a starter) at UCLA, plus four interceptions and 14 passes broken up. He is the son of six-time NFL All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, who is currently the defensive backs coach for the New York Jets where he coaches former Eagle Isaiah Trufant (2002-05). Tevin's brother, Tim, Jr., (goes by T.J.), was a senior All-America safety at USC in 2012 and was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by St. Louis. Tevin was with Eastern during 2013 spring practices after getting dismissed from UCLA's squad for violating team policy.
* Another talented transfer joining the Eagles in 2013 is offensive lineman Jake Rodgers, a 12-game starter at Washington State last fall. He started at right guard in the team's season-opener at BYU, then started at left guard in WSU's 24-20 win over Eastern Washington. He started a total of three games at right guard (BYU, UNLV, Colorado), one at left guard (EWU), five at right tackle (Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, Utah) and the final three games of the season at left tackle (UCLA, Arizona State, Washington).
* Lost for the 2013 season with a painful hip injury that required surgery to both hips, Jordan Tonani had a sensational redshirt freshman season for the Eagles in 2012. As an injury replacement for senior safety Jeff Minnerly, Tonani earned a spot on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad and was awarded with honorable mention All-Big Sky honors. He started seven games and finished the year sixth on the team with 68 tackles, and also had a team-leading three interceptions with five passes broken up and a fumble recovery. In one of many impressive performances during his debut season, Tonani's 21-yard interception return for a touchdown with 11:15 to play became the winning points in a 27-24 victory over second-ranked Montana State (10/13/12). He also had eight tackles, and as a result, was selected as the College Sports Madness National FCS Defensive Player of the Week, as well as their same honor for the Big Sky Conference.