Matt Nichols Nears Big Sky Conference Record as Milestones Accumulate
Passing the likes of Dave Dickenson, Doug Nussmeier, John Friesz and eventually Jamie Martin, senior quarterback needs only 303 yards to break the total offense record for the 46-year-old league
Big Sky Total Offense Yardage Leaders
1. Jamie Martin, Weber State (1989-92) - 41 games - 12,287 (7th in FCS)
2. Travis Lulay, Montana State (2002-05) - 47 games - 12,205 (8th in FCS)
3. Doug Nussmeier, Idaho (1990-93) - 39 games - 12,027 (9th in FCS)
4. Matt Nichols, Eastern Washington (2006-2009) - 44 games - 11,985 (10th in FCS)
5. Dave Dickenson, Montana (1992-95) - 35 games - 11,513
6. Travis Brown, Northern Arizona (1996-99) - 41 games - 11,400
7. Ken Hobart, Idaho (1980-83) - 44 games - 11,126
8. Erik Meyer, Eastern Washington (2002-05) - 42 games - 10,942
Big Sky Passing Yardage Leaders
1. Jamie Martin, Weber State (1989-92) - 41 games - 12,207 (6th in FCS)
2. Travis Brown, Northern Arizona (1996-99) - 41 games - 11,400 (10th in FCS)
3. Matt Nichols, Eastern Washington (2006-2009) - 44 games - 11,367 (10th in FCS)
4. Dave Dickenson, Montana (1992-95) - 35 games - 11,080 (11th in FCS)
5. Doug Nussmeier, Idaho (1990-93) - 39 games - 10,824
6. Travis Lulay, Montana State (2002-05) - 47 games - 10,746
7. Jason Murrietta, Northern Arizona (2003-06) - 46 games - 10,726
T8. John Friesz, Idaho (1986-89) - 35 games - 10,697
T8. Greg Wyatt, Northern Arizona (1986-89) - 42 games - 10,697
10. Erik Meyer, Eastern Washington (2002-05) - 42 games - 10,261
Only a bye this week for the Eastern Washington University football team has slowed the accumulation of milestones for senior quarterback Matt Nichols.
After already putting himself at the top of the school's record book, Nichols is just 303 yards from breaking the career total offense record in the 46-year-old Big Sky Conference. He'll have at least two games left to accomplish that feat -- Nov. 14 at Southern Utah and Nov. 21 at Northern Arizona.
Nichols has a current total of 11,985 yards, and needs just 43 to move past Idaho's Doug Nussmeier (1990-93) into third on the Big Sky's all-time list. He needs 221 to surpass the 12,205 of Montana State's Travis Lulay (2002-05) and 303 to break the 17-year-old record of 12,287 held by Weber State's Jamie Martin (1989-92).
With 11,367 career passing yards, Nichols ranks third in league history. Nichols is only 34 yards from moving past Northern Arizona's Travis Brown (1996-99) into second, but is still 840 from Martin's record of 12,207.
On NCAA Football Championship Subdivision lists, he ranks 10th all-time in both categories (the division was created in 1978).
The four-year starter already ranks ahead of such Big Sky legends as Montana's Dave Dickenson, NAU's Greg Wyatt, Idaho's John Friesz and Ken Hobart, and Eastern's own Erik Meyer. Meyer (2005), Dickenson (1995), Nussmeier (1993), Martin (1991) and Friesz (1989) have all won the Payton Award presented by the Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Nichols is on the watch list for that award this season.
So far this season, Nichols has thrown for 2,581 yards and 21 touchdowns, and has completed 66 percent of his passes to give him a passing efficiency rating of 154.7 to rank 10th in FCS. He is ninth in total offense, averaging 289.9 per game.
Nichols has just five interceptions, and had a streak of 151 attempts without a pick ended against Weber State on Oct. 10. He hasn't had an interception since then as his current interception-less streak stands at 136.
"He's having a great year," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "Because we are running the ball more, some of his numbers might be down from a total yards standpoint. But he's doing a great job taking care of the football with his touchdown-to-interception ratio. And besides those things, he's leading and he's guiding our young group of receivers. The talent has been there for a few years, but now he is progressing as a true leader in this offense."
Nichols is coming off his second-most efficient game on Oct. 31 in EWU's 44-10 thumping of Portland State. Nichols completed 21-of-30 passes for a season-high 413 yards and four touchdowns. He completed passes to eight different receivers, with six catching at least three passes.
His passing efficiency rating of 229.64 in that game was his best of the season, and second-best in his career behind his 272.93 rating versus Northern Arizona as a sophomore in 2007 (17-of-22, 316 yards, 5 TD). Nichols helped Eastern to a 545-278 advantage in total offense versus PSU as EWU snapped a three-game losing streak in the series versus the Vikings.
He is from Cottonwood, Calif., and is a 2005 graduate of West Valley High School., and has led the Eagles to a 6-3 record overall and 5-2 league mark thus far. In the win over PSU, Nichols tied the school's career touchdown passes record of 84 -- a record he now shares with the quarterback he replaced, Meyer.
"He got into a groove and he operated well," said Baldwin of the game that featured 40 rushes and 33 passes by the Eagles. "We slowed him down -- they were coming hard early-on and we needed to keep them off balance by mixing in some more runs. Finally, Taiwan (Jones) was able to get a little loose after a few carries. I thought our conditioning showed up and we were able to get into a rhythm, play fast and play some no-huddle."
Nichols had his fourth 400-yard passing performance in 44 career games. Nichols now has 16 career games with at least 300 passing yards, and 18 with at least 300 yards of total offense.
A four-year starter, he broke EWU's career total offense and passing yardage records in October, and before that, broke the school's completions and attempts records. He is now 882-of-1,461 (62 percent) for 11,367 yards and 84 touchdowns in his 44-game career.
Meyer previously held the school record for career passing yards with 10,261 from 2002-05, and also owned the career total offense record of 10,942. Nichols also has 618 career rushing yards, trailing Meyer by just 63 yards for the school record of 681 by an Eastern quarterback.
The starting debut for the 42-game starter came in 2006 when Eastern played at 12th-ranked West Virginia. For the second-straight year he is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award presented by the Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Nichols led Eastern to nine victories as a sophomore in 2007 when he passed for 3,744 yards and 34 touchdowns, and had another 392 yards on the ground. As a junior, his numbers (in two less games) slipped to 3,293 yards and 21 touchdowns passing, and 83 yards rushing.