Sept. 4, 2007
One game doesn't make a season, but the sophomore football campaign for Eastern Washington University's Matt Nichols has gotten off to an impressive start after a not-so-impressive season as a freshman redshirt.
The quarterback from Cottonwood, Calif., equaled a 20-year school record with six touchdown passes to lead Eastern Washington University to an easy 52-13 non-conference football victory over Montana-Western in EWU's season-opener last Friday (Aug. 31) at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
As a result, he was awarded with the first Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor of the 2007 season -- the first of what is hopefully several conference honors to be won by Nichols in his still young career. He also earned team offensive player of the week accolades as well.
Nichols completed 20-of-26 passes for 229 yards against the Bulldogs as he tied the TD passes record originally set by Rob James in 1987 against Weber State. His passing efficiency rating of 227.06 is much better than the 109.0 rating he had in 2006 as a redshirt freshman.
"He did good things, he was very accurate and he ran the offense like we coached him to do," said EWU head coach Paul Wulff. "I think he's gained some confidence."
In his debut season, Nichols had just eight touchdowns the entire season and equaled a school-record 17 interceptions. The first start of his career came against nationally-ranked West Virginia on Sept. 9, 2007, when he completed 13-of-25 passes. His talent allowed him to start 10 games in 2006, but his inexperience and inconsistency caused him to be replaced in five of those outings.
Eastern now takes a week off before hosting UC Davis on Sept. 15. The Eagles, who were just 3-8 overall and 3-5 in league play last season, open their Big Sky Conference schedule at Idaho State on Sept. 22.
UC Davis is also a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, and plays in the Great West Conference. The Aggies plays at Portland State this week after falling at home in its opener, 28-21, to Western Washington. UC Davis, which received votes as a preseason top 25 team in FCS, was playing its first-ever game at its new multi-use facility called Aggie Stadium.