The offense got two quick scores, then the defense took over.
Quarterbacks Gage Gubrud and Eric Barriere directed the Eastern Washington University offense to a pair of quick scoring drives, then the defense took over in EWU's 67-play scrimmage Friday (Aug. 25) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
The offense had a productive day with 329 yards of total offense, an average of 4.9 yards per play. But the defense still came up with some big plays through the evening, with a pair of interceptions and six quick-whistle quarterback sacks.
"Our offense got on track early and our defense was kind of in hesitancy mode – but then the script was flipped," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "We got after it on defense and started sleep-walking on offense. Again, we had a few careless mistakes on offense as far as putting the balls in the hands of guys in the other jersey color, but I thought there was some good tempo early and there were some good combinations early."
Gubrud, Eastern's All-America junior, started the day by passing for 34 yards and rushing for 18 more during the offense's opening 75-yard drive. He hit Jayson Williams with a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Barriere then followed with a 70-play drive of his own, capped by the redshirt freshman's 55-yard TD pass to true freshman Johnny Edwards IV.
Both Gubrud and Barriere drove the offense down the field on subsequent possessions, but those ended in an interception by D'londo Tucker and a missed field goal. Later, Victor Gamboa had an interception on a pass by Barriere.
Gubrud finished 6-of-11 for 67 yards, while Barriere was 12-of-17 for 139 yards. Gubrud led the running game with 27 yards, with Tamarick Pierce adding 21.
Defensively, sophomore safety Tysen Prunty had eight tackles, and true freshman Chris Ojoh had six with a sack. Linebacker Conor McKenna also had six tackles and a sack, and linebacker Andrew Katzenberger also had six stops. Darnell Hogan had 1 1/2 sacks.
It was the final scrimmage before Best officially opens his head coaching career at Texas Tech on Sept. 2. Eastern will take Saturday off, return for video sessions and weight training on Sunday and then resume practices in preparation for the Red Raiders on Monday.
A week ago, the offense had four interceptions and averaged only 3.7 yards per against a defense that surrendered no play of longer than 18 yards. The offense generated 267 yards total, and yards through the air on 38 attempts, while rushing 34 times for 67 yards. But seven quick-whistle sacks generated by the defense resulted in 28 yards of losses. The defense also had five passes broken up.
"There were some good timing things, and a lot of our starters didn't play a ton," Best added of Friday's scrimmage. "But we got enough work, I think to get out unscathed injury-wise and I think we built on last week."
With six starters back on both sides of the ball, Eastern returns a total of 51 letterwinners. Included are 25 on defense, 22 on offense and four on special teams.
Eastern opens against a Texas Tech squad which finished 5-7 overall a year ago. The Red Raiders, coached by Kliff Kingsbury, were 3-6 in the Big 12 Conference last year to tie for sixth.
The Eagles are ranked fifth in the preseason STATS NCAA Football Championship preseason top 25 rankings, and were one notch higher in the poll of coaches. EWU's finished 12-2 and a perfect 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference a year ago and ended the year ranked fourth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Eastern advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the third time in the past five seasons, and 12th playoff berth overall.
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