Aug. 22, 2007
Purposely, the whistles were a little quicker than normal on Wednesday (Aug. 22) as the Eastern Washington University football team wrapped up its 10th day of practices with a 45-play scrimmage at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern's No. 1 offense scored all three times it had the ball and the No. 1 defense allowed no scores and only 29 total yards. However, the Eagles had officials blow the whistles much quicker than normal in order to preserve the health of the team, which plays its opener in just over a week.
"We have actually scrimmaged a lot -- bits and pieces at least," explained head coach Paul Wulff. "So we've had a lot of contact already and went through some situations today where we didn't go live. But we did want to go through somewhat of a game scenario and get a flavor of that. I'm happy with where we are."
"From first impressions, it was a good day," he added. "It wasn't a great day but we'll get better from it."
The whistles won't be quite as quick when the Eagles host Montana-Western next Friday (Aug. 31) at 7:05 p.m. at Woodward Field. Eastern has eight more practices before starting anew after last year's disappointing 3-8 campaign.
Are the Eagles ready?
"After those practices, we'll know," Wulff said. "We are certainly on track. We'll be ready to play that first game on our schedule and that's all that really matters. We've made some progress."
Wulff had to be pleased by his starting units on Wednesday, especially the offense led by sophomore quarterback Matt Nichols. He completed 10-of-13 passes for 120 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown strike to running back Alexis Alexander. Running back Dale Morris scored on a 5-yard run and new kicker Felipe Macias booted a 38-yard field goal to cap the team's other scoring drive.
In all, Nichols directed scoring drives of 65 (five plays), 70 (six plays) and 46 yards (10 plays) as the No. 1 offense had 181 yards of offense in 21 plays (8.6 per play).
The No. 1 defense was also up to task, allowing just 29 yards on 14 plays, including sacks by Greg Peach and Shawn Powell. The other 52 yards gained in the scrimmage came when Eastern's backup units were both on the field.
"We really wanted to get our timing and assignments down," said Wulff. "We wanted some crispness to our execution -- that was the biggest thing we were looking for."
Morris was the leading rusher with 29 yards on five carries, but Alexander also saw action as a running back after earning second team All-Big Sky Conference honors a year ago as a fullback. He rushed twice for one yard, but caught four passes for 60 yards out of the backfield.
Sophomore playmaker Tony Davis also caught four passes for 43 yards and rushed twice for 25 more yards. Backup quarterback Alex Smart finished 4-of-5 for 26 yards while playing with the No. 2 offense against the starting defense.
Peach and Ethen Robinson each finished with four tackles, with Bryan Jarrett and former running back turned safety Jesse Hoffman each finishing with three. True freshman twins Zach Johnson and Matt Johnson had three and two tackles, respectively.
Macias, a transfer from Moorpark College in California, also had a 42-yard field goal during a special teams session. Washington State University transfer Fritz Brayton punted three times for an average of 44 yards.