It may have looked lopsided in favor of the offense, but that was only because of the situational nature of the first football scrimmage of the fall for the Eastern Washington University football team Saturday (Aug. 17) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
The offense scored eight touchdowns and had 466 yards of offense in the 86-play scrimmage. But head coach Beau Baldwin also watched the defense force a pair of turnovers – turning one of them into points – and break-up five passes with a pair of sacks and a quarterback hurry.
“I thought it was the type of scrimmage where both sides did great things,” said Baldwin. “We got to hit a lot of different things that could happen during the season, like our backs are against the wall coming out, red zone and sudden change. We hit them with a lot of huddle stuff, but we also used our up-tempo offense a bunch.”
Led by the 204 yards of total offense and three touchdown passes by sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams, the scrimmage wrapped up the first week-and-a-half of practices for the Eagles. Eastern will also scrimmage next Saturday (Aug. 24) at 9:45 a.m. at Roos Field, before opening the season Aug. 31 at Oregon State.
Although Adams led the offense on TD drives of 85 and 87 yards, the majority of the scrimmage consisted of short-field situations for the offense. The results were lots of scores and yards, but just having experience is a wide variety of downs, distances and field positions was more important to Baldwin.
“I think the advantage is if we get in those situations on Saturdays, it is not the first time,” he explained.
“We do a ton of (different situations) in practice. We talk about the time on the clock before the half, and we get in those situations with a lot of drills in practice. I think that is why we are able to remain calm when it is in the middle practice because they remember going through that. That is what I want this first scrimmage to be. I don’t want to set the ball down and go, and not get enough red zone or enough fourth downs. I just want to prepare our guys for the season.”
Adams completed 17-of-27 passes for 159 yards, but had an interception that was returned 55 yards for a score by sophomore safety Todd Raynes. Backup quarterback Anthony Vitto was 12-of-16 for 105 yards and a pair of scores, and redshirt freshman Jordan West was 3-of-7 for 43 yards.
Freshman redshirt Cooper Kupp caught nine passes for 77 yards and a pair of scores. Adams was the leading rusher with 45 yards in six carries. But with veteran running backs Demitrius Bronson and Quincy Forte sidelined for precautionary reasons, freshman redshirt running backs Jabari Wilson and Jalen Moore had 42 and 35 yards, respectively, as the offense finished with 159 yards rushing.
Senior All-America linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had three tackles, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery for the defense. Senior cornerback Bo Schuetzle out of Spokane’s Shadle Park High School added a pair of tackles, a forced fumble and a pass broken up. Raynes finished with three tackles, his interception and a pass broken up.
Freshmen redshirts Zach Bruce and Jordan Thompson each had seven tackles, as did true freshman linebacker Albert Havili. Havili and another true freshman, Matthew Sommer, each had sacks.
Eastern is off on Sunday, but resumes practices on Monday with a pair of workouts at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.