After a thrilling season debut on ESPN thanks to a second-half explosion, Eagles hope to keep momentum in last home game until October
2014 Eagle Football
#1 Eastern Washington University "Eagles"
University of Montana Western "Bulldogs"
Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 • 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Wash.
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington '96)
School Record: 57-22/38-10 Big Sky Conference (7th Season)
Career Record: 67-25 (8th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011, 11-3 in 2012 and 12-3 in 2013)
2014: 1-0/0-0 Big Sky
2013: 12-3/8-0 Big Sky (OUTRIGHT CHAMPIONS; FCS Playoffs semifinals)
Last Game: #1 EWU 56, #17 Sam Houston State 35 (Aug. 23 in Cheney, Wash.)
TV: Televised live regionally by SWX.
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 24th 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 Washington Trust Bank Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com.
Radio iPhone App: Search for "700 ESPN" 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 (starting Aug. 25) at 6 p.m. at the "Impulse Club" at Northern Quest Resort & Casino . . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for "Spokane Radio" and download app).
Watch Parties: Consult EWU social media outlets for details the Friday before games. Those who may carry EWU games include "Epic" at Northern Quest Casino and Resort in Airway Heights, the Swinging Doors in North Spokane and at Eagles Pub in Cheney.
In college football, you can't look back. And you can't look forward too much either.
Coming off a monumental victory, the top-ranked Eastern Washington University football team remains at home to face Montana Western on Saturday (Aug. 30) on Youth Football Day at Roos Field. Kickoff is 6:05 p.m. Pacific time versus the Bulldogs, a member of the NAIA and the Frontier Conference.
Down 21-14, Eastern out-scored No. 17 Sam Houston State 42-14 in the final 36 1/2 minutes to register a 56-35 win last Saturday in a matchup between two NCAA Football Championship Subdivision powerhouses. The "FCS Showcase" televised by ESPN.
The Bulldogs also played last week, and opened with a 38-6 league win over Montana Tech. The Bulldogs led at halftime 35-0 and out-gained the Orediggers 334-214 in total offense and won the turnover battle 4-0. A year ago, Montana Western was 4-6 with all of its games league counters.
Although a showdown with Pac-12 opponent Washington on Sept. 6 is ahead for the Eagles, they can't afford to look past this week's game. Eastern is 8-0 all-time versus Montana Western, and the Eagles have won their last five games versus lower-division foes dating back to 21-14 loss in 2006 to Central Washington.
"It's 11 college football players against 11 college football players and we are all looking to accomplish special things in a season and in every game," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "They are going to look at it no different than the way we looked at Oregon State a year ago and will look at Washington in two weeks. At the end of the day, its players fighting and scrapping, and they are there for a reason just like our players. They can football, and they looked very strong in their opening win on both sides of the ball. I don't care who you play, it's always going to be a challenge."
Eastern won for the first time in four tries against SHSU, a recent nemesis to the Big Sky Conference. The Bearkats has won seven-straight games against BSC teams, including six playoff games since 2011.
"In college football, every week means so much more than most sports," said Baldwin. "You get off a little bit, and you can all of the sudden find yourself out of the race. To win game one is huge, especially against a tough opponent like that."
"It means a lot because they've had our number and they've had the Big Sky's number," added Baldwin. "To their credit they are an incredible program that has earned those wins. And it means something nationally to put ourselves in a better position if we're trying to get an at-large berth in the playoffs. We know how hard the Big Sky is going to be. Yes, this win had a ton of meaning to it."
Saturday's game will be the first of four-straight games televised regionally by SWX. Fans may also listen to the game live regionally on 700-AM ESPN and via the web at www.700espn.com, with pre-game coverage starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Official Social Media Sites
Twitter:@ewuathletics, @CoachBBaldwin, @CooperKupp #GoEags, #BigSkyFB, #FCS
Facebook:EWU Football, EWU Athletics
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2014 EWU football fact book may be found at:
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/2014-15/news
EWU Coach and Player Interview Podcasts - http://www.goeags.com/radio_podcasts/radio_podcasts.html
Link to Football Ticket & RV Parking Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
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.ncaa.com/sports/football/fcs
NCAA Statistics (2013) - http://stats.ncaa.org/rankings?sport_code=MFB&division=12
College Sports Journal - http://www.college-sports-journal.com
College Football Performance Awards – http://www.collegefootballperformance.com
College Sports Madness - http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/fcs-football
Eagle Football Storylines
Information on these notes and more may be found in EWU's official game notes located at: http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2014-15/files/14fbRelease.pdf
* Beau Baldwin, the reigning two-time Big Sky Coach of the Year, is now No. 1 in school history and moved up a notch in Big Sky Conference history for winning percentage following the Sam Houston State win. He is 57-22 in seven seasons for a school-record .722 winning percentage to currently rank seventh in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference. His .792 winning percentage in league games (38-10) is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks fifth all-time in the league. His 38 Big Sky victories are a school record, four better than the EWU head coach he previously served under, Paul Wulff (2000-2007). He won his 50th game overall and equaled Wulff's record for league victories in the 42-37 victory over Montana in 2013. Eastern has advanced at least to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs in three of the last four years under Baldwin, the reigning two-time Big Sky Coach of the Year. He helped lead EWU to its third Big Sky title in four seasons with the school's first-ever unbeaten conference mark (8-0) in 2013.
* Eastern tied a school record in its 56-35 victory over Sam Houston State when the Eagles had 100 offensive plays, equaling the 100 Eastern had in a 2005 romp over Northern Arizona. The EWU-SHSU game featured two up-tempo teams who combined for 185 plays and 1,166 yards, 60 first downs and 91 points. In the 42-14 road win in 2005, Eastern had 583 yards of offense compared to just 185 on 40 plays for the Lumberjacks. The EWU record for most combined plays in a game is 189 in 2009 when the Eagles had 99 and Stephen F. Austin had 90 in the FCS Playoffs. The 189 total plays yielded 1,158 yards of offense.
* The Eagles finished with their ninth-most yards in school history in the win over SHSU, just one behind the 625 Eastern had against Oregon State in its opener in 2013. A 2-yard loss on a kneel-down on the final play of the EWU-SHSU game kept the Eagles from exceeding that total.
* With the next poll due out Sept. 1, the Eagles will remain ranked No. 1 in The Sports Network preseason FCS top 25 poll for at least another week. This is fourth time in five seasons Eastern has earned a No. 1 ranking by TSN. Eastern finished the 2010 season No. 1 and as NCAA Division I champion. Eastern also was ranked No. 1 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Three-time defending champion North Dakota State was ranked No. 2, while four Eagle opponents in 2014 are ranked in the top 25. Sam Houston State, a team Eastern defeated 56-35 on Aug. 23, is ranked 17th.
* The Eagles continued a trend when they out-scored Sam Houston State 7-0 in the third quarter on Aug. 23. The Eagles finished with a 179-53 advantage in the third quarter in the 2013 season, including a dominating 130-9 margin in the last eight games -- 137-9 in EWU's last nine games counting the SHSU game. In those nine games, EWU has allowed only third-quarter field goals to Idaho State on Nov. 2, South Dakota State on Dec. 7 and Jacksonville State on Dec. 14. Eastern hasn't allowed a third-quarter touchdown since Oct. 12 versus North Dakota. During EWU's 10-game winning streak that ended in a loss to Towson in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, the Eagles had a 158-17 advantage in the third. Eastern outscored its opponent in the third quarter in 12 of 15 games in 2013, including the last 11 (now 12-straight after the Sam Houston State game).
* The Eagles are 25-4 all-time at "The Inferno," with two of the losses coming the past two seasons in the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. One of those was a 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in 2012 when EWU rallied from a 35-0 halftime deficit to nearly pull off an improbable comeback.
* The Eagles had only two players on offense (G Aaron Neary, G Thomas Gomez) and three on defense (E Samson Ebukam, NT Matthew Sommer, CB Jake Hoffman) make the first starts of their careers against Sam Houston State. In addition, Roldan Alcobendas made his debut as EWU's kicker. Of those six players, only Hoffman and Alcobendas – both redshirt freshmen – made their collegiate football debuts. Ebukam had seven tackles with a pair of sacks in his starting debut.
* In all, Eastern's starting offensive lineup in the opener versus Sam Houston State included four seniors, five juniors and a pair of sophomores; the starting defense included five seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and a redshirt freshman. A total of 14 offensive players entered 2014 with starting experience totaling 134 starts, while 13 returning defensive players accounted for 121 starts.
* Five true freshmen saw action in Eastern's opener versus Sam Houston State. They included wide receiver Terence Grady and tight end Conner Baumann on offense, and end Marcus Saugen, nose tackle Patiole Pesefea and cornerback Nzuzi Webster on defense.
* Several not so well-known Eagles made the most of their increased opportunities versus Sam Houston State. Senior receiver Blair Bomber scored the second and third touchdowns of his career, and sophomore tight end Zach Wimberly had a TD on his first career rushing attempt. In addition, sophomore Jordan West had a TD pass on his first career passing attempt in his first career game when he replaced Vernon Adams Jr., who had to come out of the game to get his eye guard repaired. Sophomore Jalen Moore scored the first two touchdowns of his career, and sophomore wide receiver Kendrick Bourne also had a pair of scores to double his TD output as a freshman in 2013.
* Junior Vernon Adams Jr. is now 21-4 as a starter at Eastern. His 20 victories entering the season represents the most back-to-back wins by a starting quarterback in school history (Bo Levi Mitchell had 19). One of the losses for the 2013 Walter Payton Award runner-up was against Sam Houston State last year, and the other three were against Southern Utah in 2012 and Toledo and Towson in 2013. Adams finished this year's Sam Houston State game 26-of-48 with 302 yards and four touchdown passes, giving him 79 touchdowns in his Eastern career. He has had 13 performances of at least 300 yards in 28 career games.
* Sixth-year senior Ronnie Hamlin began his pursuit of the school record for career tackles. He had six versus SHSU, giving him a current career total of 367 tackles in 41 games (38 as a starter). The Buck Buchanan Award candidate is 32 from Greg Belzer (399 from 1997-00) and 65 away from record holder J.C. Sherritt (432 from 2007-10). Most importantly, he has helped lead the Eagles to a 30-11 record overall and 20-4 Big Sky Conference mark with a pair of league titles and two appearances in the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
* Sophomore Cooper Kupp has had at least one TD reception in 15 of 16 career games at EWU. He had at least one score in the first 14 games of his career to set a FCS record, but had the streak stopped in a 2013 loss in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Now with 22 career touchdowns, he had 21 TD catches in 2013 to lead FCS as a redshirt freshman. The Jerry Rice Award winner has 100 career catches – a TD for every 4.5 catches so far – and averaged 18.2 yards per catch in 2013 (93-1691).
* Senior running back Quincy Forte has averaged 155.3 yards rushing in his last four games after a 152-yard effort versus Sam Houston State. It was the sixth 100-yard rushing game of his career, including his third in EWU's last four games. His 152-yard effort was his third-best output in 40 career games, and in the process moved him into 10th on EWU's career leaders list with 2,222 yards. His 1,208 yards in 2013 ranked eighth in school history and gave EWU a 1,000-yard rusher for the 12th time in the last 19 seasons (1995-2013).
* Senior safety Tevin McDonald had the play-of-the-game as the former UCLA player finished with six tackles against Sam Houston State. After both teams had a pair of seven-point leads and with EWU nursing a 28-21 advantage, McDonald blitzed and deflected a pass up in the air. He then ran under it after it bounced off another player, and his interception gave EWU the ball at the SHSU 20-yard line. Eastern followed with TD to open the fourth quarter and give the Eagles some breathing room. "I think Tevin's play was probably the biggest play of the game," said Baldwin. "It just had the feeling of a monster play. The defense showed the offense that they had their back."
* Already Eastern's leading career punter, senior Jake Miller punted six times for a 49.3 average against Sam Houston State. His punts included kicks of 64 (third-longest of his career and 10th in school history), 54 and 50 yards, and he had three downed inside the SHSU 20-yard line. His career average of 43.6 yards per punt is more than a full yard ahead of the record of 42.3 set by Jesse Nicassio from 2002-03, and is currently sixth in FCS history (he needs 13 more punts to meet the minimum of 150).
* Texas native Cory Mitchell had six catches for 73 yards versus Sam Houston State in his senior season debut for the Eagles. The 26-year-old older brother of former Eagle Bo Levi Mitchell (the Most Outstanding Player in the 2010 National Championship game and now with Calgary in the CFL), Cory is a 2006 graduate of Katy (Texas) High School. He resides in Cheney with his fiance, Atosha Granger, and their two sons – Jhett who will turn three when EWU plays at Washington on Sept. 6 and Dash who will turn two in December.
* Eastern Washington wore a gold "OSO" sticker on its helmets versus Sam Houston State out of remembrance of the 43 people who were killed in the massive mudslide in Oso, Washington, near Seattle on March 22. Eastern has a personal connection with the disaster through a 13-year-old, aspiring football player named "Jojo," who was killed in the mudslide. Because of his death, his youth football team delayed a trip to Spokane for a tournament, but later visited and was greeted and comforted by head coach Beau Baldwin and 20 of his players. Two of Eastern's players, sophomore offensive lineman Jerrod Jones and freshman redshirt long snapper Curtis Billen are both from Arlington, Wash., located near Oso. Among the survivors for Jovan "Jojo" Mangual are his father, Army Staff Sgt. Jose Mangual, his mother, Jonielle Spillers, and his brother, Jacob Spillers.
* The Eagles passed for nearly 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in the 2013 and 2014 seasons combined – 9,716 yards and 95 TDs to be exact.
* The Eagles and Bulldogs met seven times when both schools were members of the NAIA in the 1960's and 1970's, and the Eagles won all seven. Coupled with a 52-13 Eagle victory in 2007, Eastern has won all eight meetings by an average score of 37-11.
In the meeting on Aug. 31, 2007, the Eagles scored all of their points in the first three quarters and at one time were tied at seven. The Eagles had a 567-244 advantage in offense, as Matt Nichols passed for 229 yards and a school-record six touchdown passes on 20-of-26 passing. Dale Morris had 148 yards rushing and Kevin Hatch had five tackles, a pair of interceptions and a pass broken up.
* Following EWU's two-game season-opening homestand, Eastern won't return home again until taking on Idaho State on Oct. 4 on Hall of Fame Day at Eastern. Eastern will play at Washington in Seattle on Sept. 6 in a rematch of a 2011 game in which EWU's upset bid came up just short in a 30-27 loss. The new coach for the Huskies is Chris Petersen, and among his assistants are former Eagle coaches Jimmy Lake (also a former Eagle player), Rich Rasmussen and Pete Kwiatkowski. Washington finished 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 Conference a year ago, and defeated BYU 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
* After the UW game, the Eagles close their non-conference schedule on Saturday, Sept. 20 against Montana State in Bozeman, Mont. As part of the league's expansion in 2012, only Montana and Portland State will be on EWU's annual schedule, and the other six league games are played on a rotating basis with the other 10 Big Sky teams. Thus, the Eagles will play non-league games the next two years versus MSU, which finished the 2013 season 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky. The Bobcats are scheduled to play in Cheney on Sept. 19, 2015, in the return game.
* Eastern's 2014 Big Sky schedule begins on Sept. 27 at UC Davis, and the team's home league opener is Oct. 4 versus Idaho State and former Eastern head coach Mike Kramer. Eastern's other home league games are against Northern Colorado (Oct. 18), North Dakota (Nov. 1) and Montana (Nov. 8). Other road games are at Southern Utah (Oct. 11), Northern Arizona (Oct. 25) and Portland State (Nov. 21).
2013 Preseason Honors
* Five seniors will serve as co-captains for the 2014 football season, as selected by a team vote during preseason practices. They include linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, who was also a captain last season. The others are safety Tevin McDonald, defensive lineman Dylan Zylstra, center Jase Butorac and wide receiver Cory Mitchell. Three of the captains are from the state of Washington – Hamlin is a 2009 graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash.; Zylstra graduated from Kentridge HS in Kent, Wash., in 2010 and Butorac is a 2010 graduate of Skyline High School in Sammamish, Wash. McDonald is from Fresno, Calif., and Mitchell is from Katy, Texas.
* Well-known already in The Sports Network awards circles, junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and sophomore Cooper Kupp are on the initial Watch List for the Walter Payton Award presented annually by TSN to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Adams was the 2013 runner-up for the Payton Award while Kupp was a unanimous winner of the Jerry Rice Award given by TSN to the top freshman in FCS. They join a list of 20 players on the initial Watch List. Adams finished with 446 votes last season, 130 behind the 576 of winner Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, who was drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft (62nd pick overall). Adams was the only non-senior in the top four, with fifth-place finisher Michael Nebrich of Fordham finishing with 106 votes. Nebrich is on the initial Watch List as well.
* In addition, senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin was selected as one of 20 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision players selected to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The Buchanan Award is presented annually by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS. Hamlin was an All-American the past two seasons for the Eagles, and was selected to the 2014 TSN preseason All-America squad. In 2013, he finished 12th in the voting for the Buchanan Award.
* Five players – the most among teams represented – were selected to The Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Preseason All-America team announced July 1. Junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and sophomore wide receiver Cooper Kupp were selected to the first team, while senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin was picked for the second team on defense. Third team selections included senior running back Quincy Forte and junior offensive tackle Clay DeBord. Adams and Kupp earned first team recognition on six different preseason All-America squads.
* A year after going an unblemished 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time in school history, the Eagles have been selected by both the media and coaches to win a third-straight title. Eastern earned 34 of the 36 first-place votes in the media poll, and 11 of 12 in the coaches poll. Eastern has never won three-straight Big Sky titles, but has won a total of seven since joining the league in 1987.
* Junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., was selected along with five other Eagles to the 2014 preseason All-Big Sky Conference team released July 14 at the Big Sky Conference Summer Football Kickoff in Park City, Utah. Eastern garnered six of the 30 selections, and Adams was selected to repeat as the league's offensive MVP. Other Eagles honored included sophomore wide receiver Cooper Kupp, junior offensive tackle Clay DeBord, senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, senior safety Tevin McDonald and senior defensive tackle Dylan Zylstra. Adams enters his junior season with a near-perfect Big Sky mark of 15-1 as a starter.
* A total of seven players have been named to the 2014 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List for their respective positions heading into the 2014 season. Most recently, punter Jake Miller and kickoff returner and all-purpose performer Shaq Hill were named to watch lists. Previously, running back Quincy Forte, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive end Evan Day, linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. were listed as candidates for CFPA honors. Five Eagles have previously earned CFPA honors: Adams (2013 CFPA FCS National Performer of the Year Trophy), Kupp (2013 CFPA FCS Wide Receiver Award), Brandon Kaufman (2012 CFPA FCS Wide Receiver Award), Bo Levi Mitchell (2011 CFPA FCS Elite Quarterback Award) and Taiwan Jones (2010 CFPA FCS Running Back Award).
* A total of 13 Eagles earned some sort of preseason recognition in 2014 from various preseason magazines and media outlets.
Defense (132 starts by 16 players): Ronnie Hamlin 38, Cody McCarthy 21, Evan Day 17, Miquiyah Zamora 10, Tevin McDonald 9, Jordan Tonani 8, Todd Raynes 7, Miles Weatheroy 2, Dylan Zylstra 3, Zach Bruce 1, Zackary Johnson 2, Frank Cange 2, Matthew Sommer 1, Jake Hoffman 1, Samson Ebukam 1, Jordan Talley 9 (all on offense).
Offense (145 starts by 16 players): Clay DeBord 28, Vernon Adams Jr. 25, Quincy Forte 18, Cooper Kupp 16, Cory Mitchell 14, Cassidy Curtis 10, Jake Withnell 7, Mario Brown 6, Shaq Hill 5, Jake Rodgers 5, T.J. Boatright 2, Jase Butorac 3, Jabari Wilson 2, Zach Wimberly 2, Aaron Neary 1, Thomas Gomez 1.
Recent Game Recap
It was another offensive explosion for the top-ranked Eastern Washington University football team, but it wasn't all to the credit of junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and senior running back Quincy Forte.
Adams and Forte combined for 454 of Eastern's 624 yards of total offense, and the top-ranked Eagles surged past No. 17 Sam Houston State 56-35 on Aug. 23 in a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision game dubbed the "FCS Showcase."
Senior receiver Blair Bomber, sophomore Jalen Moore and sophomore wide receiver Kendrick Bourne each scored two touchdowns after entering the game with a collective career total of three. Sophomore tight end Zach Wimberly had a TD on his first career rushing attempt, and sophomore Jordan West had a TD pass on his first career passing attempt in his first career game. Sophomore Cooper Kupp scored Eastern's other TD as EWU second-year players accounted for six of EWU's eight TDs.
"There were some antsy nerves," said Baldwin, whose team fell behind 21-14 before out-scoring Sam Houston State 42-14 the rest of the way. "We were off on little things, but once we settled down it was fun. You saw new faces making plays out there."
Quoting Beau Baldwin
On Second-Half Versus Sam Houston State: "Our feeling is that no matter what has happened in the first two quarters -- whether we are up, down or tied -- we are going to make adjustments and be the better team in the third quarter. Then we want to work to finish well in the fourth. They've carried over a lot of the success accomplishing that last year. I'm proud of our team for making those adjustments and playing a sounder game of football in the second half. If you take away a couple big plays, I thought our defense played really well. We always have things we can work on in all three facets of the game."
On Jordan West Entering Game and Throwing TD Pass: "That's kind of what it was like last year with Anthony Vitto. At Oregon State he jumped in for plays here and there, and this year it was Jordan. He and Coop are really good friends, so we figured they might have a connection in them. We trust Jordan, I have no doubt in my mind. I wouldn't change anything if all of the sudden Jordan had to take over the offense. We weren't going to just run it when he went in there. He did a great job, executed and finished that drive. It was an important touchdown at that time."
On 185 Plays by Both Teams: "It was one of those games where you are going to have a lot of possessions because of the style they play. There will be other games where we have 450 yards and 38 points, and we actually click even better. The numbers are a little inflated – we didn't play as good as the numbers, and we know that. But what I like is that we still made enough plays to not let the game get away from us and then we finished well in the end. We played better in the third and fourth quarters than we did in the first half."
On Progress That Needs to Be Made: "We have a lot of video to watch. We know right now we are nowhere near where we truly want to be. We knew things weren't going to go perfect, especially in a game one, but I was impressed with our leaders and how they kept responding. I'm proud of the way they came out in the second half."
On Rashad Wadood: "He's (acclimated) extremely well. I knew he could play, but the things I love the most is his character, his personality and his family. Since he's been here he's exceeded my expectations on how hungry he is. He is the type of transfers we get here. We are very selective in our transfers and we want to make sure they are a great fit once they get here."
On Return of Ronnie Hamlin: "He's a special player. It's great to have him back from a talent standpoint and a leadership standpoint as a team captain. He brings so much to our program on and off the field – 365 days a year – and he does things right. It's neat to see a decision like this made for such a quality player and person like Ronnie."
On Hamlin's 2010 & 2011 Injuries: "It was tough on Ronnie. We were thinking he could play right away, and then all of the sudden he was injured. We knew he would fight through it, but a year later he was injured again. It was a challenge – not so much for us but more so for him. That injury is tough to go through once, but to go through it a second time can create some doubts in the heads of a lot of players. It was back-to-back years with the same injury, and a long rehabilitation process. But that was a credit to his mental toughness and his desire to play football, be a student and graduate from Eastern. He just kept grinding through it the second time and never felt sorry for himself. He went out and attacked it."
On Running Backs: "We have four or five players we can rely on, and that's a great problem to have. That's tough sometimes for those players in that running back group – they all want to be the starter and they all have the ability to potentially get a lot of carries. But it keeps the competition alive and keeps us fresh at that position no matter where we are in the season. We feel very confident with all those players that they will get the job done."
* Defensive lineman Jordan Pulu (elbow) is out this week and running back Jabari Wilson (hamstring) also isn't expected to play versus Montana Western after missing the Sam Houston State game.
* The Eagles lost two projected starters to knee injuries and subsequent surgery in the spring. Returning All-Big Sky Conference defensive end Evan Day isn't expected back until late this season. Cornerback D'londo Tucker, who saw action in 2013 as a true freshman, suffered his injury following the end of spring practices and will redshirt.
* Three players are returning from season-ending injuries suffered a year ago. Safety Tevin McDonald was lost for the season with a broken fibula suffered against Idaho State that required surgery. Defensive end John Goldwire did not play in 2013 because of a severe case of Rhabdomyolysis (rhab·do·my·ol·y·sis), a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle breaks down rapidly and releases potentially damaging products into the bloodstream. In Goldwire's case, it affected his kidneys. Before the season began, freshman All-America safety and Ferris HS graduate Jordan Tonani began surgical treatment for a hip ailment that cost him the 2013 season. Tonani's painful hip injury was called hip joint acetabular impingement, and the ailment requires surgery to both hips with six months of rehabilitation required for each. His first surgery on his left hip took place on July 29, and also included a labral tear that was repaired. He had the second surgery on his right hip on Sept. 16.