It’s finally upon us Red Raider fans, by about 4pm CST Saturday we’ll have seen Nik Shimonek lead the offense, the ex-JUCOs run out on defense, and likely some points on the board. I’ve always said coming off a losing season makes for the worst off-seasons, and this is no different.
Before we dive in, a special thank you to Jim Allen from The Spokesman-Review for adding context to a few burning questions we have going into the weekend. Feel free to toss him a Twitter Follow if you wanna learn about the enemy.
Without further adieu, let’s dive into the Q&A.
1. Can you speak to QB Gabe Gubrud? Specifically, who does he best compare to? What’s his playing style? Good but not great arm, but has great pocket presence and escapability in the pocket, also great decision-making. I can’t compare him to a particular quarterback, though some liken him to former EWU and Oregon QB Vernon Adams Jr. He’s quicker than Adams but lacks the arm strength.
2. What do you feel like are Eastern Washington’s best matchups heading into the game Saturday? I like Gubrud against what looks like a mediocre line and new group of Tech defensive backs. For the same reason, I think the EWU running game will be just good enough to keep the pressure off Gubrud. On the flip side, I don’t know that the EWU receivers can consistently get open, and I have huge doubts about the corners staying with the Tech receivers.
3. Do you anticipate the new coaching staff to change much offensively and defensively? Or, will the new staff hold things consistent from the past? The defensive staff is intact. The biggest question is whether new OC Bodie Reeder (formerly an offensive quality control coach at Oklahoma State – he was in Lubbock for the OSU game in 2015) can rise to the occasion. He needs to show patience, but not be too stubborn if the running game is shut down). Also, I saw few deep throws during the scrimmages (and even those didn’t turn out well.)
4. Can you speak to the recent attrition of a top defensive back leaving, and your former starting left tackle departing. Do you feel like these are big impact losses? Or, were they expected? The loss of corner Victor Gamboa is manageable, because Eastern has depth and quality at that position. The sudden retirement of starting left tackle Nick Ellison is more serious: not only did the coaches have to move the right tackle to left and put a new guy at RT, the change disrupted the chemistry that’s so important on any O-line.
5. I see that you play North Dakota State next week. Do you anticipate Eastern Washington to hold back at all? Or, will they be pulling out all the stops to win? NDSU is a big intersectional game, but it’s no bigger than playing a Big 12 team on the road. Eastern has a history of not looking past teams (unless the next opponent is Montana!)
6. Do you expect to win on Saturday? Yes (but a few things must go well for them – pass rush on Simonek and a solid running game on first down)
7. Score Prediction? Eastern, 44-34