Urgency now is how the Eagles will attack the summer, with fall practices scheduled to begin on July 31 in preparation for opener at “The Inferno” on ESPN
The earliest football start in Eastern Washington University football history creates a little urgency – but that urgency starts now.
The Eagles ended spring football practice on Thursday (May 1) having made a lot of progress, but still with lots of work to be done. With off-season workouts beginning again soon, the Eagles can’t waste a moment of time before resuming practices July 31 in preparation for the team’s earliest start in school history.
The team’s season opener is against Sam Houston State on Aug. 23 and will be televised live at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time from Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., on ESPN.
Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said preliminary plans are for freshmen to report to campus on July 29 and veterans on July 30. The first official practice is tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of July 31.
“It’s more of an urgency to see how we attack the summer,” said Baldwin of the early start date. “You can’t have any wasted moments in May, June and July. It will be on us quick, and you don’t have time to come in and get in shape and figure things out. You have to come in ready to go and obviously play a monster game on Aug. 23.”
The Eagles had 14 practices in the spring, and will have nearly twice that many more before the opener. However, Baldwin knows how fast the spring went by and expects the same in August.
“It went pretty fast,” he said. “We played with great intensity and we stayed busy. With our lifting program, we were able to extend out practices and very seldom practiced back-to-back days, which I like. There was never any kind of lull at any time, and when you are busy things always seem to go faster. They worked hard, but they had a blast and we finished strong.”
The defense played the entire spring without a trio of injured returning starters who did not compete for precautionary reasons. Linebackers Ronnie Hamlin and Cody McCarthy sat out, as well as safety Tevin McDonald. The lone returning starter on the defensive line, Evan Day, injured his knee early in the spring and missed the remainder of practices. On offense, returning starting wide receiver Cory Mitchell was held out.
Eastern’s offense scored five touchdowns and had a pair of field goals in last Saturday’s (April 26) Red-White Game. The 86-play scrimmage featured 443 yards of total offense, including a net of 205 yards on the ground and 238 through the air. The offense scored on six of its first seven possessions, including a perfect 9-of-9 converting during a fourth-and-one drill. That led to the first two touchdowns of the day.
In the first two spring scrimmages, the offense accumulated 824 yards on 131 plays (6.3 per play) and scored 10 touchdowns and a field goal. However, the defense held the offense without a point and to 106 yards in seven scoreless possessions to begin the scrimmage on April 19. In a total of 18 possessions, the defense stopped the offense 12 times with four turnovers.
SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS (4/12, 4/19 & 4/26)
RUSHING: Jabari Wilson 15-113, Mario Brown 20-69, Shaq Hill 3-52-1TD, Jalen Moore 10-47, Reece Mahaffy 6-39, Cody Hecker 8-35, Jordan West 9-28, Samuel Mintah 8-13, Vernon Adams 11-6, Conner Richardson 12-minus-1-1TD, Team 2-minus-29, Totals 104-372-2TD.
PASSING: Vernon Adams 42-64-458-8TD-3int, Jordan West 19-33-337-5TD, Conner Richardson 8-15-100-1int, Team 0-1, Totals 69-113-895-13TD-4int.
RECEIVING: Kendrick Bourne 13-148-3TD, Cooper Kupp 12-261-3TD, Blair Bomber 8-92-2TD, Aaron Clark 7-78-1TD, Terry Jackson 5-37-1TD, Austin Ehlo 4-54, Shaquille Hill 4-39, Zach Wimberly 3-12-1TD, Cody Hecker 2-44-1TD, Jabari Wilson 2-34-1TD, Nic Sblendorio 2-24, Mario Brown 2-1, Austin Flynn 1-35, Kyle Delegard 1-12, Samuel Mintah 1-11, Larren Wright 1-7, Jake Withnell 1-6, Totals 69-895-13TD.
FIELD GOALS: Roldan Alcobendas 2-of-2 (26, 35), Trevor Merritt 1-of-1 (20).
EXTRA POINTS: Roldan Alcobendas 11-of-13, Trevor Merritt 1-of-2.
TACKLES LEADERS: Miquiyah Zamora 14, Albert Havili 14, Zach Bruce 13, Jake Gall 13, John Kreifels 12, Miles Weatheroy 10, Jake Hoffman 10, Todd Raynes 10, Jordan Talley 9, Jordan Tonani 9, Brandon Kirian 8, D’londo Tucker 8, John Goldwire 7, Frank Cange 7, Zackary Johnson 6, Moe Roberts 5, Gaven Deyarmin 5, Isaac Anderson 5, Brandon Pritchett 4, Matthew Sommer 4, Isaiah Jenkins 4, Samson Ebukam 4, Jordan Thompson 4, Ashton Boothroyd 4, Patrick Woodson 3, Cameron Babcock 3, Dylan Zylstra 3, Chandler Reed 2, Brandon Jimerson 1, Eric Orth 1, Victor Gamboa 1, Andre Lino 1, Derek Weston 1, Evan Day 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Victor Gamboa, Matthew Sommer, Zach Bruce, Moe Roberts, Total 4.
SACKS: Miquiyah Zamora 2.5, Zackary Johnson 2, John Goldwire 1, John Kreifels 1, Andre Lino 1, Ashton Boothroyd 1, Derek Weston 1, Chandler Reed 1, Todd Raynes 1, Jake Galm 1, Samson Ebukam 1, Brandon Pritchett 1, Jordan Talley 1, Albert Havili 0.5, Total 16.
PASSES BROKEN UP: D’londo Tucker 4, Isaac Anderson 2, Jake Hoffman, Zach Bruce, Frank Cange, Miquiyah Zamora, Albert Havili, Total 11.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: John Goldwire, Jake Hoffman.
FORCED FUMBLES: Miquiyah Zamora, John Goldwire, Isaac Anderson.
BEAU BALDWIN POST-SPRING COMMENTS
“There were a lot of reps that were needed, and there are plenty more that are needed before our first game. There were a lot of young players we wanted to see, and they all got the reps they needed – some even exceeded what we thought they would get. It was productive in that way.”
“Year after year we have to make some tough decisions on our 95-man roster, and that says a lot about our depth. That’s a compliment to the program in terms of the work the assistant coaches put in and the retention of our players. Even some of the players who came in as walk-ons have earned the right to be out here competing and playing. That creates depth throughout the team besides just the players we sign each year.”
“There were a lot of areas – important areas – where we made strides this spring. But there are still things that we will evaluate as a coaching staff. There are things we didn’t hit as much as we needed to and areas we need to improve. That’s the nice thing about fall camp – we essentially have two-thirds of our practices left before our first game, so there is still time.”
“The cornerback situation was a highlight because we had so many young players competing at a high level. They were competing against a receiver corp that is really tough. It was fun to see the quarterbacks like Vernon take another step forward when he was coming off a year as a full-time starter. You could see the game slow down for him. It was fun to see an offensive line crew that came into the spring with experience, even though they had some players who hadn’t started much in the past. We played with eight or nine offensive linemen most of the spring, but they all showed tremendous ability. I could go on down the line – it was fun seeing our scout team players of the year (Jake Gall, John Kreifels, Nic Sblendorio) and other young players make strides doing our stuff after running all the scout teams last year.”
“It will be exciting to get (our injured players) back involved with summer workouts and see them practice in the fall. They were somewhat limited in what they did this spring, but they’ll be back at it again in the summer and definitely the fall.”
BEAU BALDWIN COMMENTS FROM RED-WHITE GAME
“Like I told the team, there was some choppiness to it. It is a little goofy when you are starting and stopping, and obviously we did something fun (with the Celebrity Coach Challenge), which was awesome. The television anchors were doing a great job and that came down to fourth and 15, but you can’t use that as an excuse for getting out of rhythm. For example, last year when we went down to Sam Houston and we had an hour-and-a-half delay because of a monsoon. We can’t use that as an excuse to not start fast, and we are going to go through moments like that in the spring. And in our fall scrimmages, I want to see us utilize the play clock a little bit more and get some of that rhythm and tempo. The nice thing is we are only one third of the way through, so there are a lot of things we can clean up and work even after spring into fall camp.”
“I think we came out and executed that fourth-and-one drill better than we ever have. I thought we were moving the ball very well and then I would say we hit a few lulls. But at times the defense was making some plays. I think in the secondary you saw some guys making plays that maybe wasn’t an awful throw or play. But of course there is stuff to clean up. Obviously a few too many balls hit the ground, whether they were drops or whatever, they are a little awful. We do need to work on that timing and rhythm. We do have to clean that up, which to me is a little too sloppy offensively. And, of course, we need to work on our tempo, which I know is going to take time in terms of the play clock and continuing to get plays in and go. But when you are switching quarterbacks, switching out groups, switching out offensive lines and switching personnel, those things become more of a challenge. But those are things we have to work with because you never know who is going to be out there on Saturday. When you go through injuries and you go through changes in the starting lineup, they have to be ready to go.”
“That secondary, especially the corner positions, is kind of like the receiver positions of last year. So they have that little chip on their shoulder. They are the quote, unquote, question mark so to speak, but everyone is competing and we are all question marks until we play in 2014. It doesn’t matter what they did last year. But that position has a lot of young guys and I love the way they are competing and going after it and going up against some of the best receivers in the country in my opinion. But I think that was proven last year by some of their skills. So they are getting tested every day and answering the challenge and a lot of situation battles.”