Having Found a Starting QB, Eagles Scrimmage Friday in Search of Depth
Eastern moves final practice from Thursday to Friday and will end spring practices with a scrimmage featuring younger players
With the starting quarterback position secured, it’s all about finding depth at this point in spring practices.
The Eastern Washington University football team will have its 15th and final spring practice Friday (April 30) at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center practice fields, and will spend the last half of the session scrimmaging with younger players. The practice was originally scheduled for Thursday, but head coach Beau Baldwin delayed it by a day to help the team be fresher for the scrimmage and hopefully avoid rainy and windy conditions.
Baldwin said the Eagles will be looking to solidify their depth at all positions as starting positions in most areas are now secured. Included is quarterback, as Baldwin made the expected announcement that Southern Methodist transfer Bo Levi Mitchell will head into the off-season as EWU’s starter.
“We wanted to spread out practices a little more,” Baldwin explained. “We hit pretty good on Tuesday coming off our Saturday scrimmage. Some of our players are worn down a little, so we’ll give them a day off from pounding.
“Plus, we want to take advantage of good weather -- we checked and it looked like we might have a better day on Friday,” he added. “We want to take a look at our quarterbacks more, and better conditions will help us do that.”
Mitchell secured the starting position with outstanding performances in three spring scrimmages. He completed 24-of-36 passes (67 percent) for 352 yards and three touchdowns -- all to sophomore Nicholas Edwards -- with just one interception. He helped the White to a 20-0 victory over the Red in last Saturday’s (April 24) spring game, completing a pass for 61 yards to Greg Herd on the game’s first play before scoring on an 8-yard scamper.
Mitchell came to Eastern this spring from Southern Methodist University where he started all 19 of the games he played. In his career, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Mitchell completed 385-of-676 passes (57.0 percent) for 4,590 yards (241.6 per game) with 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He was also 29-1 as a high school starter at Katy (Texas) High School.
“He’s performed extremely well considering he had to learn a new system,” Baldwin said. “He has all the tools to be a great collegiate quarterback at any level. He can make every throw in our offense and do them all well -- and a lot of them are not easy.”
Backing up Mitchell will be junior Nick Gauthier, sophomore Scott Burgett, junior college transfer Greg Panelli and freshman redshirt Anthony Vitto. In spring scrimmages thus far, Gauthier is 18-of-37 for 177 yards, Vitto is 15-of-25 for 190 yards, Panelli is 7-of-10 for 82 yards and Burgett is 3-of-3 for 35 yards. Besides Mitchell, the only other touchdown pass by a quarterback was thrown by Panelli, and Gauthier (two) and Vitto (one) have thrown interceptions.
“All of our quarterbacks have competed well and we have seen some good things out of all of them,” Baldwin added. “We tried to evaluate who would give us the best opportunity to win our opener against Nevada (on Sept. 2) with 29 practices remaining and a total of 44 including spring practices.”
Baldwin said finding a backup for Mitchell is not as important as building depth. That applies to all positions.
“We’re trying to find more depth and determine what our travel squad will look like,” he said. “We want our players to continue to compete for positions. A lot can and probably will change before the Nevada game.”