The offense and defense played to a near stalemate in the Eastern Washington University football team’s first scrimmage of spring practice, as the Eagles scored on three drives and the defense held their ground on the other four.
The 37-play scrimmage showcased the two quarterbacks who are vying for the opportunity to replace 2011 Payton Award Winner Bo Levi Mitchell: Anthony Vitto and Vernon Adams.
After a quick three-and-out on the scrimmage’s first drive, Vitto took the Eagles on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard scoring pass to All-American wide receiver Nicholas Edwards. But it wasn’t the last time the two would connect in the end zone. Later, on a 3-play, 60-yard drive, Edwards caught an 11-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone. During the same drive, receiver Greg Herd hauled in a 50-yard reception from Vitto across the middle.
Adams, a redshirt freshman, was able to showcase his athleticism to Eagle fans for the first time. The Pasadena, Calif., native completed 5-of-9 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. After rushing for three yards on a drive that started on the opponent’s 30-yard line, Adams scrambled away from pressure and found Cory Mitchell in the corner of the end zone for his 27-yard scoring strike.
“Mentally, they both know where to line up and know the call they’re making,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “Everyone is still getting used to the new things, but it’s been a nice improvement.”
The defense played well, tallying three sacks on the day, one each by defensive linemen Evan Cook and Anthony Larry, as well as one by defensive back Chandler Gayton. Grant Williams and T.J. Lee III led the team in tackles with five and four, respectively.
“I consider our defensive line to be a very good strength of our team; we need them to be,” said Baldwin. “But I think more than anything, I just want to see us get physical and take it to our opponents at every level. I want to get into some more goal-line and third-and-short situations where we’re forced to make tackles. I felt like we missed some tackles today.”
Earlier in the week, Baldwin mentioned that the scrimmage could feel more like a glorified practice, but after the results of Saturday he was very pleased with how the players approached it.
“From top to bottom, and at the end of the day, these guys are not faking it,” he said. “They’re a tight-knit group, a family; I like that. When you have the right attitude, body language and mentality, you’ve got a shot at anything you want.”
The Eagles will scrimmage two more times in the next two weeks before the annual Red-White Scrimmage on April 28 at 2 p.m. Next week’s scrimmage is scheduled to start on Friday (April 13) at 3 p.m.
“Obviously there are improvements we need to make from now until then, but there will always be something to work on,” added Baldwin. “There will be after practice No. 50 and after game No. 5.”
Nicholas Edwards 2-yard pass from Anthony Vitto.
Nicholas Edwards 11-yard pass from Anthony Vitto.
Cory Mitchell 27-yard pass from Vernon Adams.
Passing: Anthony Vitto 8-11-0 120, Vernon Adams 5-9-0 116.
Rushing: Mario Brown 4-20, Jordan Talley 3-6, Quincy Forte 4-10, Vernon Adams 1-3.
Receiving: Ashton Clark 2-31, Jordan Talley 2-18, Nick Edwards 3-20, Cory Mitchell 4-89, Mario Brown 1-2, Greg Herd 1-50, Quincy Forte 2-9, Cody Humphrey 1-28.
Leading Tacklers: Grant Williams 5, T.J. Lee III 4, Chandler Gayton 3, Ronald Baines 3, Miles Weatheroy 3, Jordan Tonani 3, Andru Pulu 3.
Passes Broken Up: Shaquille Hill 1, Cody Hecker 1, Shane Stagg 1.
Sacks: Chandler Gayton 1, Evan Cook 1, Anthony Larry 1.