Aug. 21, 2008
Because of weather and delays in the track resurfacing project at Woodward Field, this Friday’s Eastern Washington University football practice and intra-squad scrimmage will have a change of time and venue.
Originally scheduled for Friday morning, first-year head coach Beau Baldwin and his Eagles will end their second week of preseason practices with an intra-squad scrimmage Friday (Aug. 22) at 2:30 p.m. at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash.
Woodward Field is somewhat soggy after two days of rain, which followed 100-degree practice temperatures in Cheney, Wash. Plus, wind and rain have delayed painting of lines on the newly-resurfaced track.
Besides, Eastern’s opener at Woodward Field isn’t until Sept. 20, with road trips at Texas Tech on Aug. 30 and Colorado on Sept. 6 taking place first. And by going to Gonzaga Prep, Eastern gets a chance to play on the same FieldTurf surface Eastern will play on in its opener at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.
"It’s definitely a benefit to run around on FieldTurf," said Baldwin. "But I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it might have been if we were playing on regular artificial turf. Field turf is more like grass, but it still doesn’t hurt to be on it once before we head out for Texas Tech."
Baldwin vows to have a shorter scrimmage than last Saturday when Eastern ran 90 plays in a nearly two-hour scrimmage. Including penalties and special teams play, that figure actually approached 130 snaps.
Avoiding injuries is the main reason Baldwin is scaling back this week.
"The players out there practicing are taking a lot of reps," he said. "Some of them are getting a lot more reps than they might normally get. Injuries happen sometimes when your body is tired, so I want to be smart about that. I want to be as fresh as we can by Sunday."
Baldwin said starters will play sparingly in Friday’s scrimmage, and that will enable him and his coaching staff to get one more look at backups and newcomers.
"There are still a few areas where we have to look at some things," he said. "Some of the younger players are fighting maybe for a spot on the travel roster and are fighting for spots on special teams. Players still in that mode are going to be key factors in the scrimmage.
"We want to fine tune," he added, "but at the same time, when you’re a week away from your opener you want to be careful how many live reps you take with your starters."
Eastern returns 15 starters and 43 total letter winners from last year’s team that finished 9-4 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. However, senior defensive tackle Shawn Powell was lost for the season with a knee injury before practices even began. Another projected starter out for about a month with a broken fibula is freshman redshirt cornerback Taiwan Jones.
In addition, projected starters Tony Davis and Lonnie Hosley have seen limited practice time thus far with sprained ankles. Rest is what those two players, and several others nursing injuries, need heading into the final week of the preseason.
"Hopefully by next week they are feeling a little bit better. We’re waiting to see how their ankles come along and hopefully by next week sometime they can come back. The plan is for both of them to be at Texas Tech."
Following Friday’s scrimmage, Baldwin will give the team Saturday off before starting preparations for Texas Tech on Sunday. The team departs via charter on Aug. 29, with kickoff the following day at 4 p.m. Pacific time.