School: Eastern Washington University
Website: Go Eags
Location: Cheney, Washington
Conference: Big Sky
2007 Record: 9-4 (6-2)
2008 Prospectus: Heck yes
Season Statisitics: Football Championship Subdivision Statistics (National Rank)
- Rushing Offense: 166.77 (50)
- Passing Offense: 295.54 (8)
- Passing Efficiency: 155.61 (10)
- Total Offense: 462.31 (5)
- Scoring Offense: 33.62 (18)
- Rushing Defense: 144.08 (38)
- Pass Defense: 246.62 (104)
- Pass Efficiency Defense: 112.30 (24)
- Total Defense: 390.69 (80)
- Scoring Defense: 22.15 (30)
- Turnover Margin: 0.92 (20)
- Sacks: 2.00 (50)
- Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (62)
Generally: In December of last year Eastern Washington head coach Paul Wulff was named the Washington State's new head coach. Wulff finished second in the Big Sky last year, second behind Montana, who was perfect in conference, all behind a sophomore quarterback, putting up some pretty impressive passing numbers. Beau Baldwin was named as Wulff's successor, who previously coached at Central Washington University, his alma mater, but has previously coached at EWU. EWU made it to the playoffs, but lost to Appalachain State (I wonder if McNeill will be contacting Moore for some video of the Eagles).
Offense: Much like Texas Tech, EWU is predominately a passing school, although EWU does rush for over 160 yards a game and considering the success the Eagles had last year, I would expect Baldwin to continue what Wulff started. Matt Nichols led the team in passing and in offense last year, was the 2007 Big Scky Offensive MVP, and was only a sophomore. Nichols finished the year with 34 passing touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Nichols isn't necissarily a running quarterback, but he did rush for 103 yards against Weber State, so he certainly has the wheels to run.
It would seem that senior running back Dale Morris would be returning for his final year, but he was no where to be found or mentioned in the EWU's spring game write-up. Morris rushed for 71.54 yards a game and a very healthy 12 touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Tyler Hart led the team in rushing during the spring game with 28 yards, but senior runner Toke Kefu led with 7 rushes for the game.
ESU returns 4 of their top 5 receiving threats in receiver Aaron Boyce (85; 1,308; 10 TD), receiver Brynsen Brown (52; 755; 4 TD), receiver Tony Davis (35; 498; 4 TD) and tight end Nathan Overbay (12; 215; 3 TD). During ESU's spring game, Overbay caught 8 passes for 91 yards.
Defense: ESU is replacing it's top 4 tacklers from a defense that finished 80th in the FCS. Greg Peach does return and he finished 2ith 11 sacks on the year, good for 11th nationally, as well as 63 tackles. Jason Belford and Lance Witherspoon should also be returning for their senior years along the defensive line, and both were fairly effective at making plays beind the line of scrimmage. Belford had 13.5 tackles for a loss and Witherspoon had 11.
The linebacking corp doesn't seem to be a group that makes a lot of plays. Marcus Walker (47 tackles) and Makai Borden (52 tackles) are two of the returning linebackers with the most experience.
Defensive back Will Edge led the team with 9 tackles in the spring game, while fellow DB Jesse Hoffman had 7 tackles. It appears that EWU's best player in the defensive backfield is junior Kevin Hatch, who finished with 4 interceptions to go along with 75 tackles.
YouTube: Up first is the highlights from the Montana loss and the one thing that stands out is Nichols' ability sling the ball down the field and EWU's seemingly difficult time covering Montana's receivers on some fairly deep passes, especially early in the game.
University of Montana VS Eastern Washington 2007 highlights (via ThrashedKid)
Next, 1st and 2nd half highlights from the BYU game, but I think it gives a pretty good indication of what Texas Tech should be able to do against EWU. At times EWU is very much over-matched, although it seems that BYU is running the ball quite often, 47 rushes for the entire game (#45 for BYU is pretty good). I will say that EWU does a really nice job of dropping defensive players into coverage, a la, Missouri and Colorado. Again, Nichols has a retty good arm, and the EWU lone TD (about 6:00 into the 1st highlight) is a great pass and catch.
BYU vs EWU First half (via cougarclips)
BYU vs EWU 2nd Half (via cougarclips)
What I Think: I think EWU struggles against a very explosive Texas Tech offense. I know, look at me going out on a limb with my prediction, but the reality is EWU has a defense that doesn't return a number of their top players, I would imagine that they are probably learning a new defense under Baldwin, that 2 strikes against a defense that just wasn't very good last year. Defensively, Texas Tech should do just fine against the Eagles, although it will be interesting to see how the Red Raiders match up against a pretty good quarterback and a pretty good receiving corp. Lots of offense returns for EWU and this game can make a pretty big statement for the Red Raiders. Stop the Eagles and no one is going to wonder if this is the same old Texas Tech defense.