No. 7 Eastern plays its first-ever meeting against Big Sky newcomer North Dakota on day when 1997 Eagles will be inducted into Hall of Fame
Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
University of North Dakota
Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 • 5:05 p.m.
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Wash.
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington
School Record: 36-17/25-9 Big Sky Conference (5th Season)
Career Record: 46-20 (6th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 at EWU in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011)
2012: 3-1/2-0 Big Sky Conference
2011: 6-5/5-3 Big Sky Conference
Last Game: Eastern 32, Montana 26 (Sept. 29 in Cheney, Wash.)
TV: Televised in Eastern Washington by SWX - SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287, Cable One 466; Davis Cable 514; Northland Cable 115 (Greg Heister, Bill Ames)
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 22nd season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen and sideline commentary by Keith Osso. Osso will also serve as host of the Eagle Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com
Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: ewulive.statb.us (web) or ewustats.com (mobile phones)
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app).
Eastern Washington University has had a storied football past, and this week’s game will give the current Eagle team a glimpse of the past as well as the future.
And it starts with the “other” tough-nosed team from North Dakota, as the Eagles host Big Sky Conference newcomer UND on Hall of Fame Day at EWU’s Roos Field. Kickoff in the league game is 5:05 p.m. in a game televised live by SWX (SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287, Cable One 466; Davis Cable 514; Northland Cable 115) and via webcast at www.bigskytv.org.
The radio broadcast of this week’s game, featuring Larry Weir, Paul Sorensen and Keith Osso, starts 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff with the Eagle Tailgate Show. It may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at www.700espn.com and via iPhone application (search for “700 ESPN” and download the free app). The broadcast is also available via www.tunein.com and tunein’s mobile phone app.
The Eagles, ranked seventh in this week’s Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll, are 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Sky Conference after last week’s come-from-behind 32-26 win over then 21st-ranked Montana at Roos Field. Aided by a successful onside kick, the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 2:19, as those scores came within 1:26 of each other.
This week’s opponent is North Dakota, a team Eastern is playing for the first time in school history. Now playing without a nickname, UND is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in its first season in the Big Sky Conference. North Dakota is coming off a 35-17 home loss to then 23rd-ranked Cal Poly, which vaulted to 20th in this week’s rankings.
Eastern is no stranger to first-ever meetings against teams from the Dakotas. Two years ago, in the first-ever meeting with North Dakota State in the FCS Playoffs, the Eagles survived for a 38-31 overtime victory in the semifinals. Eastern went on to win the 2010 national title and NDSU won the championship in 2011.
A year ago, Eastern ventured to play at South Dakota and was soundly beaten 30-17 in the first meeting between the Eagles and Coyotes.
Despite last week’s win, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin knows his team has a ton of improvement to make to face a murderer’s row schedule of UND, second-ranked Montana State (Oct. 13), Sacramento State (Oct. 20), Southern Utah (Oct. 27), No. 20 Cal Poly (Nov. 3), UC Davis (Nov. 10) and Portland State (Nov. 17).
The Grizzlies out-gained Eastern in total offense 553-447, including a 407-94 advantage in rushing yards. At one point in the second half, the Grizzlies had 169 total yards compared to a minus-4 in the half for the Eagles.
“We were outplayed by Montana in that second half,” said Baldwin. “Our players are resilient. Sometimes you lose quarters, and sometimes you lose a quarter and a half. But you just have to know that until the clock strikes zero, you keep fighting. Our team did that against Montana and made some plays. I am proud of them and truly happy for our team.”
This week’s game will feature two of the top 20 offenses in FCS. North Dakota enters as the Big Sky leader and eighth nationally with an average of 478.6 yards per game, and UND also leads the league and is sixth in FCS in scoring offense (40.8). Eastern is 19th in FCS in total offense (446.3), but is just 56th in scoring (26.0).
The Eagles will probably need to shore up its suddenly porous rush defense – North Dakota is 28th nationally and fourth in the Big Sky with an average of 191.8 yards per game. Cal Poly, EWU’s non-conference opponent on Nov. 3, had 405 a year ago versus the Eagles and is leading the BSC this season with a 326.3 average per game.
North Dakota quarterback Marcus Hendrickson will be tough to stop, as he ranks 10th in FCS and second in the league in total offense (286.0), with 1,246 yards passing and 183 rushing thus far. He is also eighth nationally and tops in the league in passing efficiency, completing 58 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Defensively, North Dakota is 88th in FCS in total defense (415.8) and is 99th in rushing defense (221.2). Eastern, meanwhile, is 74th in total defense (391.8) and 77th in rushing defense (185.8).
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EWU Football News & Notes - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/news
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College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
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College Football Performance Awards – http://www.collegefootballperformance.com
’97 Football & Four Individuals Honored Oct. 6
Four individuals will join the 1997 Eastern Football Team as the 12th class of inductees in the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame, and will be honored on Oct. 6, 2012, in Cheney, Wash.
The induction breakfast and ceremony will start at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 6 at the Pence Union Building. The public is invited to attend and the cost is $15 per person. Guests must RSVP to 509-359-2463 or 1-800-648-7697. Inductees will also be honored at halftime of EWU’s football game against North Dakota that begins at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time.
The 1997 football team will be inducted on the 15th anniversary of its thrilling playoff run, and a large group of former players, coaches and support staff are attending on Oct. 6. After winning the Big Sky Conference title, the ’97 squad advanced in the playoffs by defeating Northwestern State (40-10) and Western Kentucky (38-21), then fell to Youngstown State 25-14 in the semifinals. All three playoff games were played at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash., as the Eagles captivated Eastern fans and alums throughout the Northwest. The Eagles also won the outright Big Sky Conference title, and remain the only Big Sky Conference team other than national powerhouse Montana to win an outright title from 1995-2011.
Scott Garske, an All-America football player for Eastern in 1973, will be inducted, thus creating a family event for him. His son, Griffin, was a backup quarterback on the 1997 Eastern team.
Record-breaking sprinter Joyce Rainwater Blount will be inducted after a remarkable career that saw her win eight Big Sky Conference titles and appear at the NCAA Division I Championships twice. She still owns four school records and three conference marks after a career from 1990-95 that included time off to have a baby.
Inducted posthumously will be Don Kallem, who spent 17 seasons as Eastern’s golf coach and 13 as an assistant football coach. His golf teams won eight NAIA District titles and advanced to the NAIA Championships nine times. A three-time district coach of the year, he spent 31 years in the Eastern physical education department. He passed away on July 10, 1997.
The Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award will be presented to 1970 Eastern graduate Jon Heimbigner for his vast contributions to the sports community in the Inland Northwest. Already a member of four halls of fame, he has served for more than 30 years on four different organizations, as well as serving on the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame committee since its inception in 1996. Recently, he stepped down as a board member for the Spokane Regional Sports Commission after 34 years of service (1978-2012).
Established in 1996, this year’s inductees will bring the total number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 61. Nine teams will have also been inducted, as well as 12 recipients of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award.
* Eastern remains a season-high seventh in this week’s Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 Poll as selected by a national panel of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors. The Eagles moved up two positions after ranking ninth last week following the team’s bye. In the coaches poll, the Eagles are also seventh, after also ranking ninth a week ago. Other Big Sky Conference schools in the top 25 include Montana State (second TSN, second coaches), Montana (21st TSN, 20th coaches) and Northern Arizona (22nd TSN, unranked by coaches).
* Thanks to a win versus a NCAA Football Bowl Division opponent (20-3 over Idaho on Aug. 30) and a near-miss against a Pac-12 Conference member (24-20 loss to Washington State on Sept. 8), the Eagles are the 10th-highest FCS team in the Jeff Sagarin computer ratings. Eastern is 102nd overall, with Cal Poly ranking as the highest Big Sky school (third in FCS, 83rd overall). Other highly ranked Big Sky schools include Montana (18/117), Northern Arizona (19/118), Montana State (21/121), UC Davis (25/132) and North Dakota (27/135). After the loss to Washington State, Eastern was ranked a season-high fifth among FCS members.
* Eastern leads FCS with a perfect 15-of-15 performance thus far in the red zone. Eastern has scored eight touchdowns and has kicked seven field goals this season when it has reached inside the opponent 20-yard line.
* Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin coached in his 100th game at Eastern last week when the Eagles rallied to beat Montana 32-26. He is 36-17 in four-plus seasons as a head coach (2008-12), and was 25-22 as an EWU assistant coach for four seasons (2003-06), for a collective total of 61-39.
* Eastern has proved twice in a six-game span that you can win for losing. The Eagles gave up 407 rushing yards on Sept. 29 versus Montana, yet prevailed 32-26 by scoring two touchdowns in the last 2:19. Last Nov. 12, the Eagles allowed Cal Poly to rush for 405, but EWU prevailed in a triple-overtime thriller, 53-51. The last time Eastern allowed that many rushing yards came on Nov. 21, 1998, when Southern Utah rushed for 535. Eastern wasn’t so lucky in that one, however, getting thumped 43-21.
* With a current streak of five-straight 100-yard receiving performances, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman already has 24 catches for 559 yards and five touchdowns. He had eight catches for 138 yards and two TDs against Montana on Sept. 29, marking the fourth time in four games this season – and 12th time of his career – he has eclipsed the 100-yard mark. His performance against the Grizzlies earned him College Sports Madness Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week accolades and honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards. He also went over the 100-yard mark in the last game he played a year ago. The 2010 All-American leads the Big Sky and ranks second in FCS in receiving yards per game (138.5), and is 27th in FCS in catches per game (6.0). Because of hand and knee injuries requiring surgery, Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. Kaufman, who is from Denver, Colo., and is a 2009 graduate of Heritage HS, now has 152 career catches (ninth in school history) for 2,440 yards (seventh) and 22 touchdowns (sixth).
* Before Montana rushed for 407 yards against EWU, the Eagles ranked 25th in FCS and third in the league in rushing defense (112.0 yards per game). Eastern is now 77th in FCS (185.8), having given up only 336 rushing yards total in its first three games. Eastern is now 74th in total defense (391.8). A year ago, Eastern was 101st out of 120 FCS schools in total defense (411.9) and 110th in rushing defense (213.2).
* The Eagles are second in the league and seventh in FCS in passing offense (308.3 per game), with junior Kyle Padron also ranking fourth in the league and 12th nationally (262.7). New starter Vernon Adams is 24th in FCS in passing efficiency (143.1), completing 60.4 percent of his passes for 428 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Eagles are fifth in the Big Sky and 19th in FCS in total offense (446.3).
* Despite an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback Vernon Adams had two touchdown passes in the in the final 2:19 as the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over 21st-ranked Montana Grizzlies Sept. 29 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. As a result, Adams was selected as the Sports Network co-Freshman of the Week in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, as well as the Root Sports Offensive Player of the Week awarded by the Big Sky Conference. Eastern put together an 82-yard scoring drive to pull within two points with 2:19 remaining on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Brandon Kaufman. After EWU successfully recovered an onside kick, Eastern scored again on a 20-yard TD pass from Adams to Ashton Clark with 53 seconds to play. Adams completed 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for EWU, and also added a team-leading 54 yards rushing. He accounted for 407 of EWU’s 447 yards of total offense. In the final quarter alone, Adams was 13-of-21 for 171 yards and a pair of scores. Eastern scored the first time it had the ball on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, then led 14-7 in the second quarter on Kaufman’s 36-yard TD reception from Adams.
* Eastern’s comeback magic – dating back to 2010 -- is alive and well. In the last three seasons (2010-12), the Eagles have had nine victories when they’ve trailed or been tied in the final stanza. A year ago, a touchdown pass by wide receiver Greg Herd sparked Eastern to scores on four consecutive plays (two touchdowns and two conversions) in the second and third overtimes as the Eagles prevailed 53-51 over Cal Poly on Nov. 12. Eastern sent the game into overtime with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to score with 1:51 to play. Just two games earlier, Eastern rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat Sacramento State 42-35 in overtime Oct. 22 at Hornet Stadium. The victory kept EWU perfect in 11 tries versus the Hornets in Sacramento. In 2010, Eastern was no stranger to narrow victories, with six victories when trailing in the fourth quarter. In fact, nine of its 13 wins during the national championship season came were nail-biters -- the Eagles trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter of six of them, in one they trailed in the third quarter and in the other two they were scoreless in the final stanza. Included was a 20-19 victory over Delaware in the national championship game when the Eagles rallied from a 19-0 deficit to score three touchdowns in the final 16:48.
* Redshirt freshman wide receiver Shaquille Hill recovered an onside kick with 2:19 left to play, which led to the winning score for Eastern in its 32-26 come-from-behind win over Montana. After that touchdown with 53 seconds to play, Hill had the tackle on the ensuing kickoff return at the Montana 18-yard line. That became a key stop, as the Grizzlies drove 62 yards on five plays, but ran out of time to complete its own rally. Hill also had the first kickoff returns of his Eastern career, returning four for 84 yards and a touchdown. Eastern’s normal kickoff returner is All-America wide receiver Greg Herd. But with a knee injury keeping fellow All-America wide receiver Nicholas Edwards out of action, the Eagles elected to have Hill return kickoffs, instead of risking injury to Herd, who already suffered a concussion Sept. 8 versus Washington State.
* Junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had 14 tackles versus Montana, coming two from his career high of 16 set last year versus Cal Poly. Four Eagles finished in double figures in tackles, as Montana had 78 total offensive plays, including 61 rush attempts. The Eagles allowed 407 rushing yards against Montana, and at one point in the second half had 169 total yards compared to a minus-4 for EWU. But with the Eagle offense scoring on drives on its final two possessions, and EWU recovering an onside kick, Montana had the ball for just eight plays in the final 8:26. Hamlin now has 124 tackles in his 15-game Eastern career, with four passes broken up, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and seven tackles for loss.
* A fractured collarbone suffered by senior safety Jeff Minnerly proved to be more costly than his presence in the secondary. He has been Eastern’s holder on placekicks since his freshman season, and was holding exclusively for Jimmy Pavel this season, while Vernon Adams was holding exclusively for left-footed backup Kevin Miller, who is handling kickoff duties for EWU. After Minnerly’s injury, the Eagles decided to let Miller take over the placekicking chores for the rest of the game, and he made two extra points and a 19-yard field goal. Pavel, who was a perfect 6-of-6 kicking field goals in EWU’s first three games, did get a chance to take over for Miller late in the game, and his perfectly placed onside kickoff was recovered by Shaquille Hill and led to EWU’s winning score. Minnerly, meanwhile, is out indefinitely after he had three tackles on EWU’s first six defensive plays against UM. He had tackles on the first two plays, sat out three plays, then returned for one more play before leaving for good on the 142nd tackle of his EWU career. He also has five interceptions, nine passes broken up, two forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss in his 35-game EWU career.
* In other national rankings, Eastern’s Jake Miller is ranked ninth in FCS in punting (44.05 average) and kicker Jimmy Pavel is 14th in field goals (1.5 per game, with six for the season). As a team, Eastern is 15th in net punting (38.24 per punt, including opponent returns) and 28th in scoring defense (19.8).
* Punter Jake Miller averaged 46.0 yards on four punts with a long of 53 versus Montana on Sept. 29 to earn honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards.
* Eastern’s running game is much-improved in 2012, with the Eagles ranking 67th in FCS with an average of 138.0 yards per game. A year ago, Eastern ranked 112th out of 120 FCS teams with an average of 79.0 per game. Only once last year did Eastern have more than 139 yards rushing in a single game and EWU already has performances of 162 (Idaho) and 206 (Weber State), which are the most for EWU since the 2010 season. Jordan Talley has rushed for 221 and three touchdowns, and Quincy Forte has 186 with a score. Both players are sophomores who played as true freshmen in 2011. They are now augmented by the additional running threat of quarterback Vernon Adams, who scrambled his way to 62 yards in his starting debut versus Weber State and another 54 versus Montana on Sept. 29. He has 118 for the season (7.4 per carry).
* This is the first time in school history all 11 Eastern games will be played on artificial surfaces. Eastern played on grass just once in 2010 (Weber State) and 2011 (Cal Poly). Prior to having red Sprinturf installed in 2010, Eastern’s Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) was a grass surface.
* Despite coming off a 6-5 season, the Eastern Washington University football team has been picked to finish second in the Big Sky Conference. Two-time defending co-champion Montana State has been selected first by the media and the coaches in the polls. MSU, which has finished 7-1 in the conference in each of the past two seasons and advanced to the playoffs, earned seven first-place votes in the coaches poll and a total of 136 points. In the media poll, the Bobcats received 30 of 40 first-place votes and 502 total points. Eastern garnered four first-place votes and 131 total points from the coaches. In the media poll, the Eagles earned three first-place votes and 453 total points. A year ago, the Eagles were picked to win the league title after they had won the 2010 Big Sky championship and went on to win the NCAA Division I title. But an 0-4 start and a rash of injuries led to a 6-5 finish overall and 5-3 mark in the Big Sky in 2011.
* Eastern has now won seven of its last eight Big Sky Conference openers, with the lone loss coming last year in a 17-14 setback on the road at Montana. The last time EWU was 2-0 in conference play was in 2009 when the Eagles won their first three league games and finished 5-2.
* Senior safety Jeff Minnerly is EWU’s latest addition to the injury list, with a fractured collarbone suffered against Montana, which will keep him out an indefinite amount of time. Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards suffered a knee sprain on a pass reception on EWU’s first offensive play of the game at Weber State, and missed the rest of that game and EWU’s home opener versus Montana. He will also be out an undetermined amount of time. Linebacker Zach Johnson (hamstring) played in just EWU’s first defensive series against Weber State before he had to sit out the rest of the game, and he also missed the Montana game. His backup, J.C. Agen, who started in 2011 after Johnson was lost for the season with a knee injury, missed the first two EWU games with a pectoral injury, but made his season debut in limited action versus Weber State. However, Agen also missed the Montana game, and both Johnson and Agen are questionable for North Dakota this week. Defensive end Paul Ena returned to start versus Montana after a wrist injury in the first half against Washington State sidelined him for the rest of that game, as well as Weber State. Ena, the lone returning starter on the defensive line, started against Idaho on Aug. 30 despite suffering an elbow injury in practice about a week earlier. Wide receiver Greg Herd played against Weber State after suffering a concussion versus Washington State, but probably wouldn’t have played if Eastern would have had a game on Sept. 15. Running back Demitrius Bronson missed the first two games with an injured hamstring, but returned to carry the ball twice versus Weber State.
* This is the first meeting between Eastern and North Dakota.
Eagle-North Dakota Connections
* Eastern has no players from North Dakota on its roster, and UND has no players from Washington on its roster. The Eagles have players from eight states, while North Dakota is represented by players from 13 states, and one from Canada.
Eagles to Watch For
* Transfer quarterback Kyle Padron has passed for 788 yards and four touchdowns in three games as an Eagle. Padron, Eastern’s second-straight transfer from Southern Methodist University, had his first touchdown pass as an Eagle with 3-yard touchdown strike to redshirt freshman Jake Withnell in the second quarter against Idaho. Eastern’s previous SMU transfer, Bo Levi Mitchell, led the Eagles to the 2010 NCAA Division I Championship and won the 2011 Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Padron (pronounced “puh-DRONE”) passed for 5,902 yards and 41 touchdowns in his 24-game career at SMU, including 21 as a starter (12-9 record). He was 5-1 as a freshman, as SMU’s late-season surge helped it beat Nevada 45-10 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Padron passed for a school-record 460 yards and two touchdowns to earn Hawaii Bowl MVP honors, then started all 14 games as a record-breaking sophomore (7-7 record). Mitchell was injured in the 2009 season at SMU and transferred to EWU after Padron secured the starting job mid-way through his freshman season. The same thing happened in 2011 to Padron, who suffered ankle and back injuries and was replaced in the lineup by J.J. McDermott for the final 11 games of the year.
* Although injured (knee) and out an indefinite period of time, All-America wide receiver Nicholas Edwards has caught seven passes for 124 yards thus far to move into ninth on Eastern’s all-time receiving yards list with a current total of 2,322 (on 185 catches with 29 touchdowns). The 6-3, 200-pound Edwards is by far the most decorated Eastern player returning, having earned first team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America accolades on seven different teams in 2011 -- American Football Coaches Association, The Sports Network, College Sporting News “Fabulous Fifty”, Walter Camp Football Foundation, Phil Steele Publications, Beyond Sports College Network and College Sports Journal. He also earned second team accolades from Associated Press and Collegesportsmadness.com after catching a school-record 95 passes for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns to lead FCS. Fellow receiver Greg Herd earned Beyond Sports College Network honorable mention All-America recognition, having caught 67 passes for 1,022 yards and seven scores. He was a second team All-Big Sky Conference selection.
* Eastern led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense in 2012, averaging 368.5 yards per game. In Beau Baldwin’s four years as Eastern’s head coach, the Eagles have ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing offense three times and total offense twice. In EWU’s last eight seasons (1994-2011), including seven with Baldwin on the coaching staff, EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing six times and total offense on five occasions.
* Among the injured players returning were five lost for the year early in the 2011 season – All-America wide receiver Brandon Kaufman (knee/hand), guard Ashton Miller (Achilles), guard Steven Forgette (broken fibula), guard Jase Butorac (knee) and linebacker Zach Johnson (knee). All but Butorac started in Eastern’s 2012 opener versus Idaho.
* Eastern regained the services of linebacker Zach Johnson, who was injured as a senior in 2011 and was granted a sixth year by the NCAA to complete four years of eligibility. Johnson had 19 games wiped out, including the entire 2009 season, because of the same knee injury. He has 274 tackles in his career, just 14 from moving into eighth all-time at Eastern. He is only 67 from ranking fifth and equaling the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
* Eastern has perhaps the top wide receiver trio in all of FCS, with three players who have all earned All-America accolades and have 1,000-yard seasons in their careers -- Nicholas Edwards, Greg Herd and Brandon Kaufman. They have combined for 110 games worth of experience (79 starts), and have collective totals of 452 catches for 6,314 yards and 61 touchdowns. Edwards and Herd are seniors and Kaufman is a junior after he received an injury redshirt in 2011.
* Brandon Kaufman redshirted the 2011 season as an injury hardship case, but in 2010 was a first team All-America selection by the College Sporting News and fourth team from Phil Steele Publications. He was a first team All-Big Sky selection with 76 catches for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore when he helped lead the Eagles to the NCAA Division I title.
* Eastern also has lots of experience at tight end, with junior Zack Gehring returning as a starter, sophomore Ryan Seto back after a redshirt season and junior Cody Humphrey getting lots of action in 2011 after moving from the offensive line. Gehring led the tight ends by catching six passes for 63 yards in 2011, and had 12 catches for 173 yards and two scores in 2010.
* Eastern’s top offensive lineman returning is 6-foot-6, 310-pound senior tackle Will Post, who earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors a year ago. He has started 24 games – the most among Eastern’s offensive linemen and third most overall.
* In the secondary, Eastern is replacing a starting cornerback (Alden Gibbs) and one of three players who shared the starting safety positions last year (Matt Johnson, now with the Dallas Cowboys). Cornerback T.J. Lee III and safeties Jeff Minnerly and Allen Brown return to starting positions. The newcomer, cornerback Ronald Baines, had an interception against Idaho in EWU’s opener to set-up an Eagle field goal. Lee was a first team All-Big Sky selection a year ago, finishing the season with 48 tackles, a pair of interceptions and one pass broken up.
* Running back is another area where the Eagles have plenty of experience, with four players sharing the load last year. That group includes no seniors, and each of the four players – Demitrius Bronson, Mario Brown, Quincy Forte and Jordan Talley -- started at least one game. Talley started six games and rushed for a team-high 413 yards and five touchdowns. Bronson, who has overcome a rash of injuries to claim the starting position heading into 2012, rushed for just 21 yards in 2011. Forte had 270 yards rushing and 215 receiving as a true freshman, while Brown added 141 yards on the ground. Brown is redshirting the 2012 season.
* Jake Miller, after nearly setting a school record with a 44.2 average per punt, was named to the College Sports Journal All-Freshman All-America Team in 2011. He also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades.
* Safety Jeff Minnerly had an honor-filled career as a 4.0 student at nearby Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., and he has followed that with a variety of athletic and academic awards at Eastern. In 2011, he repeated as a honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection and was selected to the Capital One Academic All-District VIII squad for the second-straight year as well. In the 2010 season, Minnerly was awarded the “Elite 88” Award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He received the award for having the highest cumulative grade point average among the participants in the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Eastern won that game 20-19, as Minnerly finished with two passes broken up and two tackles. He has a 3.78 grade point average as a finance major. In his 35-game Eastern career – 21 as a starter – he has 142 total tackles with five interceptions, nine passes broken up, two forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss. Minnerly started eight of 11 EWU games in 2011, and ranked second on the team with 77 tackles.
* Eastern’s defensive line returns honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference end Paul Ena, who finished his junior campaign in 2011 with 48 tackles and three sacks. Another end, senior Jerry Ceja, had a team-leading 5 1/2 sacks and finished with 21 tackles total. First-year starter Evan Day, a sophomore, had 1 1/2 sacks in his starting debut versus Idaho, and Ceja had a pair versus Weber State on Sept. 22.
* Senior linebacker Tyler Washburn battled a knee injury and had only 20 tackles in 2011, but he finished his sophomore season with 54 and had 41 as a freshman in 2009.
* At kicker, Eastern lost senior Mike Jarrett after he broke EWU’s career record for kick scoring (236) and the single season record for field goals (16). An impressive 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) kicking field goals in the 2011 season, Jarrett has been replaced by senior Jimmy Pavel and junior Kevin Miller. Pavel handled kickoff duties for the Eagles in 2011, and Miller held the job the two previous seasons when he also made 2-of-3 field goals. Thus far this season, Pavel is handling placekicking duties and Miller is kicking off.
* Eastern also returns one of the league’s premier long snappers in senior Jake Potter. Potter is inconspicuous, which means he’s good, laughs Baldwin. “It’s kind of nice when you forget about your long snapper, because that means they are so consistently good that you don’t notice them,” he said. “When you aren’t thinking about them, that’s usually a good thing.”
* Three of Eastern’s top four safeties on the depth chart are all graduates of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash. Senior Jeff Minnerly is a three-year starter, and he is joined this season by redshirt freshman Jordan Tonani and senior McKenzie Murphy. Murphy, who graduated from Ferris with Minnerly in 2008, played his freshman season at Western Washington in 2008 before it dropped its football program, and remained in school there until transferring last spring to EWU.
* A total of 12 Eastern players received preseason accolades as chosen by a variety of publications, websites and organizations that cover the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision and the Big Sky Conference. Senior wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is among the seven Eagles honored with preseason All-America honors, as he earned recognition on 10 different teams. Eight of the accolades he received were as a first team selection. He was also selected to the Senior Bowl Watch List, a collection of 309 seniors from NCAA FBS and FCS schools. The other preseason All-Americans are junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, senior wide receiver Greg Herd, junior cornerback T.J. Lee and sophomore punter Jake Miller, and recent additions in senior offensive tackle Will Post and senior safety Jeff Minnerly.
More Eagle Season Notes
* Since 1999, the Eagles have lost just twice in their home opener for a 12-2 record in that span. Eastern fell 21-14 to Central Washington in 2006 and 36-21 in 2011 to Montana State. In opening its 2012 home schedule Sept. 29 versus Montana, it was the latest home start for Eastern since 1981 when EWU hosted British Columbia on Oct. 3.
* Only four times in school history – 1938, 1955, 2011, 2012 – has Eastern opened the season with three-straight road games. In those 12 games, EWU is a respectable 5-6-1.
* Senior defensive end Jerry Ceja had a game-clinching sack and forced fumble with 34 seconds left in EWU’s 32-26 win at Weber State on Sept. 22. Now with five forced fumbles in his career – one behind the school record of six shared by four players – Ceja has had five game-changing forced fumbles on sacks in his career. A Colorado native, Ceja made the first start of his career at Northern Colorado (10/16/10) and forced a fumble on a sack late in the game that was picked up by teammate Tyler Jolley and returned 17 yards. That gave EWU the ball 39 yards from the end zone and led to EWU’s winning touchdown with 41 seconds to play in the 35-28 victory. Earlier in the season, Ceja forced a fumble on a sack on the final play of the game that was returned 34 yards for a score by Renard Williams and secured EWU’s 36-27 victory over Montana (9/18/10) in the first game on EWU’s new red Sprinturf surface at Roos Field.
* Junior cornerback T.J. Lee has piled up some impressive statistics already this season, including eight tackles (six unassisted), a pass broken up and a forced fumble on a sack that he also recovered to lead to a field goal versus Weber State on Sept. 22. One game earlier against Washington State, he had six tackles and an interception, as the Eagle defense pitched a shutout in the second half and kept the Eagles in the game. His interception in the fourth quarter came at the Eastern 7-yard line and helped thwart one of two potential scoring drives for the Cougars late in the game. A first team All-Big Sky selection a year ago, Lee now has 85 tackles, three interceptions and five passes broken up in his 24-game career.
* Jimmy Pavel made all four of his field goals – 25, 19, 29 and 27 yards – in Eastern’s 32-26 victory over Weber State, making him a perfect 6-of-6 for the year. His effort earned him honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards. Pavel ranks first in the Big Sky and third in FCS with an average of 2.0 field goals per game. In his first game as EWU’s placekicker at Idaho on Aug. 30, Pavel made both of his field goal attempts and was selected as the Root Sports Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. Pavel, who handled kickoff duties a year ago, takes over for Mike Jarrett, who was 16-of-18 kicking field goals as a senior in 2011.
* In what one sportswriter called “déjà EWU,” Eastern used a late fumble on a sack to hold-off Weber State in the final minute for the second-straight season. Eastern took a 20-3 lead on Sept. 22 in Ogden, only to have the Wildcats rally to pull within six. Eastern clinched the 32-26 win when Jerry Ceja had a sack and forced fumble with 34 seconds left, and it was recovered at midfield by Utah native Will Katoa. In the 2011 meeting in Cheney, Weber State rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit, but Eastern sealed it when Charles Moetului forced a fumble with 21 seconds left that was recovered by teammate Anthony Larry after the Wildcats had driven to the EWU 17-yard line.
* In the first start of his Eastern career, redshirt freshman quarterback Vernon Adams used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead at Weber State on Sept. 22. Adams led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown march on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs.
* Featuring an early-season schedule with a familiar feel to it, Eastern opened the 2012 season with three road games and a bye. The Eagles began the 2012 season at former Big Sky Conference rival Idaho, then returned to the Palouse a week later to face Washington State and new head coach Mike Leach. After a bye in the schedule, Eastern opened Big Sky Conference play at Weber State against former EWU assistant coach Jody Sears. Finally, on Sept. 29, the Eagles played their home opener versus Montana at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Two years ago, in the debut of EWU’s red Sprinturf surface in the first game at the re-named field (it was formerly Woodward Field), the Eagles knocked off the Grizzlies 36-27. A year ago, Eastern opened the season with road losses to Washington and South Dakota, then began league play with a loss at Montana and a home setback to Montana State.
* For the second-straight year, a pass in the end zone in the final seconds against a Pac-12 Conference opponent didn’t result in an Eagle touchdown, and the Eagles fell to Washington State 24-20 Sept. 8 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. A 12-play, 99 yard drive pulled Eastern to within three with 2:17 to play on the second of two Kyle Padron to Brandon Kaufman touchdown passes on the day. Eastern got the ball back with 1:29 left and converted a pair of fourth-down conversions, but Padron, who finished with 379 yards passing, had his final desperation pass batted away in the end zone. A year ago, in a 30-27 loss to Washington in Seattle, a similar pass intended for Kaufman was intercepted by the Huskies with 29 ticks left on the clock. Eastern out-gained WSU in total offense 469-355. A sell-out crowd of 33,598 witnessed the game, only the third time the two teams have met and the first time since 1908.
* Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman received honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards for his performance at Washington State on Sept. 8. He finished with five catches for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kyle Padron’s 93-yard TD to Kaufman in the first quarter knotted the score at seven, and it equaled the fourth-longest pass play in school history.
* After setting a school record versus Washington State, sophomore punter Jake Miller received honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards. Miller averaged 46.3 yards on seven punts, including a school-record 74-yard punt on his first effort of the day against the Cougars. He broke the previous record of 71 yards set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers. His 44.4 average on 52 career punts currently ranks as the school record, placing him ahead of the 42.3 average of Jesse Nicassio (2002-03). Miller, who transferred from WSU and graduated in 2010 from Spokane’s Central Valley High School, averaged 44.3 yards a year ago and thus far has a 43.6 average on 16 boots.
* Only time will tell if EWU’s season-opening, 20-3 victory over Idaho was a renewal of a formerly intense rivalry, or just a mere happenstance meeting as it has been for more than a decade. Eastern defeated its former Big Sky Conference rival for the second-straight time, having also won 8-5 in 2003 in the Kibbie Dome. The two teams played at least once for 17-straight seasons from 1983-1999, but only twice since then. The Vandals left the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (then known as I-AA) for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) beginning in the 1998 season. After the dust cleared in the conference shakeups in FBS recently, Idaho has announced it will return to the Big Sky Conference in all sports but football, but will remain a FBS independent at least for the time being.
* After beating Idaho 20-3, Eastern has won seven of its last eight games in domes, with the lone loss in that span a 30-17 loss in the 2011 season at South Dakota. Eastern is 4-8 all-time in the Kibbie Dome, with victories in 1985 (42-38), 1991 (34-31 in two overtimes), 2003 (8-5) and now 2012.
* Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman had five catches for 148 yards in EWU’s 20-3 win over Idaho. That performance, which included grabs of 58, 35 and 33 yards, earned Kaufman FCS National Wide Receiver Performer of the Week accolades from College Football Performance Awards. He earned the same honor from College Sports Madness. His receptions helped set-up an Eastern field goal and touchdown.
* Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin led the way for the Eagle defense in the victory over Idaho with eight tackles and a pass broken up for the Eagles. As a result, he was selected as the Root Sports Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Eastern held Idaho to a long rush of 7 yards, forced Idaho to punt nine times and held the Vandals to a 2-of-15 performance on third down. Eastern’s defense allowed just 237 yards, with 66 of that coming through the air on a defensive breakdown by EWU in the first quarter. It was the fewest points allowed by the Eagles since beating Idaho State 38-3 in the 2009 season and Northern Colorado 16-0 two weeks earlier that year.
* Eastern was selected 12th in The Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 preseason football poll as selected by a national panel of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors. In the preseason coaches poll, the Eagles were ranked 15th, and EWU was picked as high as seventh nationally by other preseason publications and websites heading into the 2012 season. The Eagles, who won the 2010 FCS title, were ranked No. 1 in the first two polls of the 2011 season, but were not ranked at the end of the year after finishing 6-5 overall.
* Expecting to be in the hunt for the Big Sky Conference title and yet another playoff berth in the NCAA Championship Subdivision, Eastern is hoping for big things from an experienced team that features eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense, with a total of 48 returning letterwinners. And the last time Eastern had a rash of injuries like they did last season, the Eagles parlayed that experience for younger players into the NCAA Division I title in 2010.
* Among the players lost to graduation were Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, as well as All-Americans Chris Powers (center), Renard Williams (defensive tackle) and Matt Johnson (safety).
* In all, a total of 14 starters – seven on each side of the ball – suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup in 2011, including seven players lost for the season. Eastern stumbled to a 0-4 start, but the Eagles adjusted well to the injury epidemic and won six of their final seven games to finish with the school’s 14th winning season in the last 16 years.
* Eastern started 46 different players in the 2011 season – 24 on offense and 22 on defense – with only five players starting all 11 games. A total of 21 players made starting debuts during the season, and most of those return for the 2012 campaign.
* Eastern fell a victory shy of its sixth playoff berth since 2004. Although the Eagles came up short, EWU is one of just seven schools among the 120 in FCS to have advanced to the playoffs five times in the last eight seasons (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).
* Although ravaged by injuries in 2011, there is definitely room for improvement on defense, as well as the running game on offense. The Eagles ranked 101st out of 120 FCS schools in total defense, surrendering an average of 411.9 yards per game. Eastern allowed 213.2 yards rushing per game, and only 10 schools in FCS allowed more. On offense, Eastern led FCS in passing offense (368.5 yards per game), but was 112th in rushing with an average of 79.0 per game.
* A quartet of Eagle seniors have been selected as Eastern’s co-captains for the 2012 season. They include defensive end Paul Ena, linebacker Zach Johnson, wide receiver Nicholas Edwards and offensive tackle Will Post. Johnson was a senior captain last year before an injury cut short his season, but he was granted a sixth year by the NCAA to complete four years of eligibility.
* Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman has 152 catches in his career to rank ninth in school history, and is just five grabs away from moving into eighth. He is seventh all-time in EWU history with 2,440 reception yards, and is only four yards away from sixth and, 84 from fifth and 126 from fourth. Kaufman’s 22 touchdown catches are sixth, seven away from the No. 2 position of 29 held by Edwards and Aaron Boyce (2006-09). Greg Herd (115 catches for 1,552 yards and 10 touchdowns) should also be among EWU’s career leaders before the season has concluded.
* Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is just 51 receiving yards away from moving into eighth all-time in Eastern history (he currently has 2,322), and is three points away from moving into eighth in points scored (currently he has 176). His 185 career catches ranks fourth in school history (No. 3 has 213) and his 29 TD receptions are second (the record is 46).
* The 44.2 career punting average of sophomore Jake Miller currently ranks ahead of the school record. Jesse Nicassio had a 42.3 average in two seasons from 2002-03. Miller had a school-record 74-yard punt versus Washington State on Sept. 8, breaking the previous record of 71 set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers.
* Linebacker Zach Johnson has 274 tackles in his career, just 14 from moving into eighth all-time at Eastern. He is only 67 from ranking fifth and equaling the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
* Senior defensive end Jerry Ceja has five forced fumbles in his career, just one behind the school record of six shared by four players. The players who own the record are Matt Johnson (2008-11), Renard Williams (2008-11), J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97)
* The next fumble that defensive end Paul Ena recovers will equal the school record of eight shared by Nicholas Ramos (2006-09) and Steve Mattson (1994-97).
Recent Game Summary
* Scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:19, the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over 21st-ranked Montana Grizzlies Saturday (Sept. 29) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. The two scores, aided by a successful onside kick, came within 1:26 of each other. The Eagles allowed 407 rushing yards, and at one point in the second half UM had 169 total yards compared to a minus-4 for EWU. But Eastern put together an 82-yard scoring drive to pull within two points on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Vernon Adams to Brandon Kaufman. After Shaquille Hill successfully recovered an onside kick for the Eagles, Eastern scored again on a 20-yard TD pass from Adams to Ashton Clark with 53 seconds to play.
* Adams completed 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for EWU, and also added a team-leading 54 yards rushing. He overcame an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter to become one of several heroes for the Eagles. In the final quarter alone, Adams was 13-of-21 for 171 yards and a pair of scores. Kaufman finished with eight catches for 138 yards and a pair of scores as he had his fifth-straight 100-yard receiving game. Clark, taking the place of injured All-American Nicholas Edwards, added six grabs for 89 yards.
* Four Eagles finished in double figures in tackles, including linebackers Ronnie Hamlin (14), Grant Williams (13) and Tyler Washburn (12). Safety Allen Brown had 11 stops, and redshirt freshman Jordan Tonani added eight tackles after starter Jeff Minnerly broke his collarbone on EWU’s first defensive series. Montana rushed 61 times and had three players with 95 yards or more. The 407 yards were the most against the Eagles since Southern Utah rushed for 535 yards in the final game of the 1998 season.
* The game was Eastern’s home opener -- EWU’s latest home start since 1981. The game also marked the debut of a new scoreboard and videoboard at The Inferno, two years after the Eagles unveiled their new red Sprinturf surface at Roos Field in a 36-27 victory over UM. The “men in black” also played in new black helmets Saturday, to go along with black pants and black jerseys.
Quoting Coach Beau Baldwin
On Montana Win: “It was a wild finish and our guys just kept believing. We have been in similar situations -- and a lot of guys out there on the field have been in similar situations. You have to keep believing. Montana was taking it to us in the second half. Absolutely taking it to us.”
On Vernon Adams Versus Montana: “He’s a freshman playing football for the first time in college -- you are going to go through highs and lows. I see sophomore, junior, even senior quarterbacks sometimes go through low and high moments. That’s the way football works. The best thing he did was when he came to the sideline, he didn’t pout or slam his helmet. He just kept saying we are going to get another shot. Even if we had come up short, the guys carried the same attitude the entire time. That always gives you a shot. One of our mottos is ‘panic will always end in defeat,’ but as long as you don’t panic, you give yourself a shot.”
On Brandon Kaufman and Other Receivers: “Kaufman is an amazing player and he should be on Montana’s mind. He is one of those guys who will open up opportunities for other players on the team at times, which he was able to do. When he was in those one-on-one situations, he made plays. It was exciting. Ashton (Clark) has done a great job, and Greg Herd made great plays. Obviously Brandon was great, but a number of players made a lot of huge plays. For Ashton to go catch the game winner off Vernon’s scramble is fitting. He works really hard and he sometimes does not get a lot of attention, but he doesn’t care. He is not that way, but he deserves it tonight. He is a good one and he is a hard worker.”
On Second Half Versus Montana: “It didn’t look great in the second half. We were struggling and Montana was taking it to us in the second half. It was great to see our players not give up, and we heard it on the sideline. You saw it from our guys. We have been here before. It doesn’t mean you are always going to pull games like this out, but as long as you don’t panic, as long as you stay with it, you always have a chance. Our guys gave themselves a chance just with that mental attitude. It creates a situation where guys get in this situation again, and they believe in themselves because they have done it before. When you start doing it once, you do it twice. Even if you come up short like we did in the Washington State game, we still felt like we put ourselves back in this position. We came up short, but we put ourselves back in this spot. As long as we keep doing it, we are always going to have that right mental attitude going into those tough situations.”
On His Team: “Our team is resilient. Sometimes you lose quarters, sometimes you lose a quarter and a half, but you just have to know that until the clock strikes zero, you keep fighting. Our guys did that against Montana and made some plays. I am proud of them and truly happy for our team.”
On Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron: “It’s a situation where we have two great quarterbacks, and they are both incredible team players and people of character. Our whole team believes in both of them. I am proud of what Vernon did on the field, and I am proud of how Kyle Padron handles himself with true character and like a true man. He was a big reason why Vernon’s’ head stays up and he stays in the game, because of what Padron says on the sideline. It is a good problem to have. It’s always tough on the other guy, but having a lot of players throughout the course of the year is something we know we need. It’s always a tough situation when you have two great quarterbacks, but when you have two of them with the attitude and character of those two young men, it makes it a little bit easier in those tough situations.”
Defense (211 starts by 18 players): Zach Johnson 33, Paul Ena 27, Tyler Washburn 26, Jeff Minnerly 21, Evan Cook 18, Allen Brown 16, David Gaylord 13, Ronnie Hamlin 12, T.J. Lee 11, Grant Williams 6 (includes one start on offense in 2009), Cody McCarthy 5, Ronald Baines 5, Jerry Ceja 4, J.C. Agen 4, Andru Pulu 4, Evan Day 3, Will Katoa 2, Rusty Haehl 1.
Offense (208 starts by 22 players): Nicholas Edwards 40, Brandon Kaufman 26, Will Post 26, Steven Forgette 21, Zack Gehring 16, Greg Herd 13, Brandon Murphy 13, Jordan Talley 9, Drew Reynolds 8, Mario Brown 5, Ashton Miller 5, Clay DeBord 4, Ashton Clark 4, Quincy Forte 3, Vernon Adams 2, Ryan Seto 2, Kyle Padron 2, Demitrius Bronson 2, Jase Butorac 2, Cody Humphrey 2, Cory Mitchell 1, Daniel Johnson 1, Jake Withnell 1.
* Four Eagles made starting debuts against Idaho on Aug. 30. On defense, Washington transfer Andru Pulu made his first start at defensive tackle and had one tackle, and sophomore Evan Day had 1 1/2 sacks in his starting debut at an end position. On offense, SMU transfer Kyle Padron completed 13-of-33 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in his Eagle debut, but previously started 21 games at the NCAA FBS level at Southern Methodist. Also making his starting debut was left offensive tackle Clay DeBord.
* The only other starting debuts since the opener was made by quarterback Vernon Adams at Weber State on Sept. 22 and Jake Withnell against Montana on Sept. 29. Adams, a redshirt freshman, used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead versus Weber State. Adams led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown mark on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs.