Eastern makes short trip to Washington State, with Beau Baldwin’s head coaching debut coming against Mike Leach’s talented Texas Tech squad in 2008
Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
Washington State University “Cougars”
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 • Noon Pacific
Martin Stadium (33,522) • Pullman, Wash.
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington
School Record: 34-16/23-9 Big Sky Conference (5th Season)
Career Record: 44-19 (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: 1-0/0-0 Big Sky Conference
2011: 6-5/5-3 Big Sky Conference
Last Game: Eastern 20, Idaho 3 (Aug. 30 in Moscow, Idaho)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
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: http://www.wsucougars.com/ot/wast-gametracker.html
Watch Parties: All road games will be available to watch at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights and the Swinging Doors in North Spokane.
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).
The headaches Eastern Washington University head football coach Beau Baldwin and his defensive coordinator John Graham faced back in 2008 in their Eagle coaching debuts might create recurring nightmares this week.
For the second time, Baldwin and Graham must face a Mike Leach-coached team when EWU visits Washington State in Pullman, Wash. Kickoff this Saturday (Sept. 8) is noon in a game televised live on the Pac-12 Networks between a pair of Inland Northwest schools who have faced off just twice in school history, and not at all since 1908.
The Eagles, ranked ninth in this week’s Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll, is 1-0 after a 20-3 victory over Idaho last Thursday (Aug. 30) in Moscow, Idaho. The win snapped Eastern’s 10-game losing streak against NCAA Football Bowl Division foes, and EWU faces another this week in Pullman. The Cougars are 0-1 after a 30-6 loss at Brigham Young.
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.
Washington State was previously coached by Paul Wulff, who was 53-40 with three NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoff berths as Eastern’s head coach for eight seasons (2000-2007). But he was let go by WSU after compiling a 9-40 record in four seasons, including a 4-8 mark in 2011. Wulff spent a total of 15 seasons at EWU as a coach and is now with the San Francisco 49ers.
In his place, the Cougars hired Leach, who was a former head coach at Texas Tech University. Eastern played Leach to open the 2008 season – and the EWU coaching careers for Baldwin and Graham -- in Lubbock, Texas. With quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree operating with superb efficiency, the Red Raiders came away with a 49-24 victory, piling up 536 of its 639 yards of offense through the air.
That game was also the debut for sixth-year Eagle linebacker Zach Johnson, who finished with eight tackles and three passes broken up. His twin brother, current Dallas Cowboy Matt Johnson, had 10 tackles and the first of his 17 career interceptions.
In the last 15 seasons, only once has EWU given up that many passing yards (574 versus Northern Arizona in 2009) and only twice have the Eagles surrendered more yards of total offense (747 versus NAU in 2009 and 683 versus Montana State in 2004).
Beyond the pass-happy offense EWU must face, the Eagles will also play in front of a Martin Stadium crowd anxious to see Leach’s home opener as WSU’s head coach. Baldwin expects to face a hostile crowd, much like Eastern faced last week in Moscow in front of 11,136 fans in the Kibbie Dome.
“We’re going to be in a hostile environment and on the road against a Pac 12 opponent,” he said. “It’s going to be loud and we’re going to have to handle that environment again. Sometimes we just need to relax and make sure we’re focused in on what we’re doing.”
The Eagles are now 8-20 all-time versus members of FBS, with two victories in the last 14 tries – both coming against Idaho.
A complete 2012 EWU Football Season Outlook may be found at:
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2012 EWU football fact book may be
More Eagle Football Links and Headlines
EWU Football Web Page - http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/index
EWU Football News & Notes - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/news
Link to Football Ticket & RV Parking Information: http://goeags.com/tickets/ewas-fbticketcentral.html
Big Sky Conference Football - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=football&path=football
Spokane Spokesman-Review EWU Football Page - http://www.spokesman.com/eagles
700 ESPN – http://700espn.com
The Sports Network (FCS Football) - http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/indexpic.htm
NCAA FCS Football - http://www.ncaafootball.com/DivisionIFCS.aspx
NCAA Statistics (2012) - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2012
NCAA Statistics (2011) - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2011
College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
College Sports Journal - http://www.college-sports-journal.com
College Football Performance Awards – http://www.collegefootballperformance.com
* Up three spots from its preseason ranking, Eastern was selected ninth 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. In the coaches poll, the Eagles are 11th. Other Big Sky Conference schools in the top 25 include Montana State (4th TSN, 4th coaches) and Montana (11th TSN, 11th coaches).
* Playing his first game in 11 months, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman had his ninth 100-yard receiving performance of his Eastern career with 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. Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. An All-American in 2010, he now has 133 catches for 2,029 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career.
* 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.
* In his first game as EWU’s placekicker, Jimmy Pavel made both of his field goal attempts and was selected as the Root Sports Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. He made a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter and had a 34-yarder in the first quarter in Eastern’s win over Idaho, and also made both of his extra points. 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.
* Four Eagles made starting debuts against Idaho. 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* A total of 12 Eastern Washington University football 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.
* Featuring an early-season schedule with a familiar feel to it, the Eastern Washington University football team are opening the 2012 season with three road games and a bye. The Eagles began the 2012 season at former Big Sky Conference rival Idaho, then return to the Palouse this week later to face Washington State and new head coach Mike Leach. After a bye in the schedule, Eastern opens Big Sky Conference play at Weber State against former EWU assistant coach Jody Sears. Finally, on Sept. 29, the Eagles will play 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.
* Linebacker J.C. Agen, who started in 2011 after Zach Johnson was lost for the season, has a pectoral injury and is not expected to play against WSU after missing the Idaho game. Running back Demitrius Bronson is probable after sitting out several practices and the Idaho game with a hamstring strain. Defensive end Paul Ena, the lone returning starter on the defensive line, started against Idaho after suffering an elbow injury in practice about a week earlier. Offensive tackle Clay DeBord also started versus the Vandals following a lower leg/ankle injury he suffered in EWU’s scrimmage on Aug. 23.
* The short 90-mile trek to Pullman, Wash., to face WSU will be the first varsity meeting between the two schools in more than 100 years. Eastern lost to the Cougars in 1907 (46-0) and 1908 (73-0), and were 8-10-1 from 1921-46 against WSU’s junior varsity or freshman teams.
* After narrowly falling 30-27 in the 2011 season at Washington, the WSU game will mark the second-straight year the Eagles will play an in-state opponent from the Pac-12 Conference. And it won’t be the last. Eastern has scheduled a second football game against the University of Washington, giving the Eagles games in both 2011 and 2014 versus the Huskies of the Pac-12 Conference. Eastern opened the 2011 season at Husky Stadium on Sept. 3, and will return on Sept. 6, 2014. The Eagles will play at Washington State in 2012, Oregon State in 2013 and Oregon in 2015, eventually giving Eastern five-straight games against Pac-12 opponents.
* Eastern’s enters the WSU game 0-8 all-time versus current members of the Pac-12 Conference. Besides games in 1907 and 1908 against Washington State, Eastern’s only other games versus Pac-12 opponents have been against Oregon State (2000 and 2006), Arizona State (2002) and California (2009). Eastern has also played recent Pac-12 newcomer Colorado (2008).
* Eastern was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for most of its history before becoming a member of FCS in 1984. But despite playing 27 games against NCAA Football Bowl Division members from 1983-2010 -- including four against the Pac-12 Conference -- the Eagles did not play Washington State or Washington during that time span. Eastern had never played Washington until a narrow, 30-27 loss to open the 2011 season. Eastern is now 8-20 all-time versus FBS teams after its 20-3 victory over Idaho on Aug. 30, 2012.
* Senior defensive end Paul Ena has a rather famous father who previously played for WSU. From 1976-79, Tali Ena was carving up defenses as a running back for the Cougars, leading to him eventually being drafted in the 11th round by the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football League. He rushed for 1,888 career yards and 16 touchdowns at WSU to rank among the school’s all-time leaders. He had 728 yards in 1978 and 844 yards as a senior in 1979, including 218 versus Oregon State, which stood as a school record for five years. He had an 80-yard touchdown run versus Oregon, and won the Laurie Niemi Award at WSU in 1979.
* Sophomore punter Jake Miller redshirted at WSU in 2010 before transferring to Eastern. He burst onto the scene at EWU to nearly set a school record with a 44.2 average per punt and earn Freshman All-America honors. He is a 2010 graduate of nearby Central Valley High School in Spokane, Wash. His career average of 44.1 yards per punt is currently the school record. Miller will turn 20 on Sept. 4, just four days before Eastern plays at WSU. He is the third generation of his family to attend EWU -- his father and grandfather both attended Eastern.
* Another Washington State transfer, defensive lineman Zackary Johnson, redshirted at WSU in 2010, and did not appear in any games as a redshirt freshman in 2011. He earned WSU Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week honors twice.
* Former SMU and current Eastern quarterback Kyle Padron passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns, with one TD rushing, in a 35-21 victory against Washington State on Sept. 18, 2010.
* In the 2009 season, Eastern running back Demitrius Bronson was a backup tailback at Washington, and carried the ball four times for 16 yards in a 30-0 blanking of Washington State.
* As a senior at Montana State in 2002, current EWU wide receivers coach Junior Adams had a memorable year, which included 11 catches for 181 yards in a 45-28 loss at Washington State. He finished the season with 66 receptions for 983 yards and eight touchdowns to earn All-America honors. He broke a Big Sky Conference record when he averaged 60.5 yards per reception (two catches for 121 yards) against Weber State. He scored the winning touchdown in a 10-7 victory over rival Montana at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula that ended MSU’s 16-game losing streak versus the Grizzlies. He helped MSU to a 7-5 overall record as the Bobcats finished 5-2 in the Big Sky Conference to earn a piece of the league title.
* The first start for both Matt and Zach Johnson came on Aug. 30, 2008, when Eastern played at Texas Tech University and head coach Mike Leach, who is now at WSU. The Red Raiders came away with a 49-24 victory, piling up 536 of its 639 yards of offense through the air. Zach had eight tackles and three passes broken up in the game, and Matt had 10 tackles and the first of his 17 career interceptions. Zach is playing this year for the Eagles after receiving a sixth year from the NCAA, while his twin brother now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Zach has a current total of 266 tackles at Eastern to rank ninth in school history, and Matt finished his career with 341 to currently rank fifth.
* Eastern tight end Zack Gehring’s brother Aaron was a tight end at Washington State from 2006-10 after graduating from Castle Rock High School in 2006. Their father, Mark Gehring, played tight end at Eastern from 1984-85 and played briefly in the NFL with San Francisco and Houston.
* Born Sept. 4, 1991, starting defensive end Evan Day will turn 21 four days before Eastern plays at WSU.
* Eastern safety Jordan Tonani had 105 catches in his high school career at Ferris High School. A 2011 graduate, he broke the previous school record of 104 set by Washington State University starter Jared Karstetter (2005-07 at Ferris). Karstetter’s former Ferris teammates, Jeff Minnerly and McKenzie Murphy, are also safeties for the Eagles.
Eagles to Watch For
* In his Eagle debut, transfer quarterback Kyle Padron completed 13-of-33 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in EWU’s 20-3 win over Idaho in the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. 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. Eastern’s previous SMU transfer, Bo Levi Mitchell, has similar numbers in his debut at Eastern. He completed 19-of-35 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-24 loss to Nevada two seasons ago. Mitchell went on to lead 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.
* Eastern finished with 412 yards of total offense against Idaho, including 260 passing and a surprising 152 rushing, despite the fact starting running back Demitrius Bronson missed the game with a strained hamstring. Only once last year did Eastern have more than 139 yards rushing in a single game. Eastern’s 40 rushing attempts are the most since the 2010 season. Eastern took a 20-3 lead versus Idaho thanks to an 11-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard TD run by Quincy Forte. Forte finished with a team-leading 66 yards on 17 carries, and Jordan Talley added 63 yards on 18 carries. Both players are sophomores who played as true freshmen in 2011.
* All-American wide receiver Nicholas Edwards added 62 yards on a pair of receptions against Idaho to move into ninth on Eastern’s all-time receiving yards list with a current total of 2,260 (on 180 catches with 29 touchdowns). He set-up Eastern’s first touchdown of the game with a 33-yard catch. 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 260 tackles in his career, just three from moving into ninth all-time at Eastern. He is only 81 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 102 games worth of experience (72 starts), and have collective totals of 414 catches for 5,713 yards and 56 touchdowns. There is still one season left to play for Edwards and Herd, and a pair for Kaufman 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 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 23 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 expected to redshirt 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 3.83 grade point average as a finance major. In his 32-game Eastern career – 18 as a starter – he has 131 total tackles with four 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.
* 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 loses 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 will be 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.”
More Eagle Notes
* 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.
* The first half versus Idaho was punctuated by mistakes by the Eagles, despite a 223-135 advantage in total offense. At one point, Eastern had 66 yards to a minus-1 by Idaho. In the first half, the Eagles were whistled for seven penalties for 40 yards; had a holding penalty on an Idaho punt that led the lone points of the day for the Vandals; gave up the 66-yard pass to a wide-open Idaho receiver on a third-and-long play; and Idaho intercepted a pass that went through the hands of an Eastern receiver.
* 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 after 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.
* Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is just 42 receiving yards away from moving into eighth all-time in Eastern history (he currently has 2,260), and is three points away from moving into eighth in points scored (currently he has 176). His 180 career catches ranks fourth in school history (No. 3 has 213) and his 29 TD receptions are second (the record is 46).
* Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman (133 catches for 2,029 yards and 17 touchdowns) is just four receptions from moving into EWU’s top 15 list for career receptions, 32 yards away from the No. 14 position for receiving yards and one touchdown pass from ranking 11th in school history. Greg Herd (101 catches for 1,424 yards and 10 touchdowns) should also be among EWU’s career leaders before the season has concluded.
* The 44.1 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.
* Linebacker Zach Johnson has 266 tackles in his career, just 22 from moving into eighth all-time at Eastern. He is only 75 from ranking fifth and equaling the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
* 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
* The Eastern Washington University offense wasn’t at its finest Thursday (Aug. 30) against Idaho, but the defense certainly was. Transfer quarterback Kyle Padron completed 13-of-33 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in his EWU debut as the Eagles edged past its former Big Sky Conference rival for a 20-3 win in the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. Eastern’s defense allowed just 237 yards, with 66 of that coming on a defensive breakdown by EWU in the first quarter. Eastern, ranked 12th in the preseason Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 Poll, 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. The win over the NCAA Football Bowl Division foe broke a 10-game losing streak against FBS opponents for the Eagles. Read more at http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/Releases/12fbAug30IdahoRecap
Quoting Coach Beau Baldwin
On Win Over Idaho: “It’s always good to win – wins are hard. I don’t care who you play, where you play and how it goes, getting victories is never easy. So it’s big when you can get that first one.”
On Eastern’s Defensive Effort Against Idaho: “They were lights out. Our biggest goal is to continue to push our team to carry that through the rest of the season. We need to follow that up with another performance like this. With the veterans we have on defense and their ability to fly around and disrupt the other team’s offense, which will make it tough on opponents. We have a tough, veteran group, and they did a really nice job.”
On Kyle Padron Versus Idaho: “He did a great job, took some hits and stayed so calm. Whenever your quarterback can lead you to a win on the road against a FBS school, that’s something good. It’s the first time we’ve won one of these in a long time. “In the first game, you see different pressures and some things you didn’t see on video. He just handled all those situations well the whole game. You could see a lot of his experience come out.”
On Brandon Kaufman Versus Idaho: “It’s great to have him back – you can just see it in his legs. He was never really healthy that much last year, even in our opener. You can see the difference in where he’s at now. They are a good, mature and talented group of receivers, but it’s obviously neat to see No. 1 back in there with the rest of those guys.”
On Eastern’s Running Game Against Idaho: “We’ve worked on it. We ran it more than we probably did the last six or seven games last season. We talked about being a championship caliber team, and you can’t do it without some form of balance. It doesn’t mean you are going to be exactly 50-50, but we needed more than we had last year. We led the nation in passing, yet we were 6-5. That can show you something. When you can be in a situation like we were in against Idaho and run the ball, that’s huge.”
On Things That Need Work After Idaho Win: “We had some unforced errors and some instances where we didn’t handle the crowd noise very well. We had some false starts and did some sloppy things we have to clean up.”
Defense (178 starts by 18 players): Zach Johnson 31, Paul Ena 25, Tyler Washburn 23, Jeff Minnerly 18, Evan Cook 15, Allen Brown 13, David Gaylord 12, Ronnie Hamlin 9, T.J. Lee 8, Cody McCarthy 5, Grant Williams 5 (includes one start on offense in 2009), J.C. Agen 4, Jerry Ceja 3, Will Katoa 2, Ronald Baines 2, Rusty Haehl 1, Andru Pulu 1, Evan Day 1.
Offense (175 starts by 21 players): Nicholas Edwards 38, Brandon Kaufman 24, Will Post 23, Steven Forgette 18, Zack Gehring 13, Greg Herd 10, Brandon Murphy 10, Drew Reynolds 8, Jordan Talley 6, Mario Brown 5, Ashton Clark 4, Quincy Forte 3, Ashton Miller 2, Demitrius Bronson 2, Jase Butorac 2, Cody Humphrey 2, Cory Mitchell 1, Daniel Johnson 1, Ryan Seto 1, Clay DeBord 1, Kyle Padron 1.