Motivation isn't hard to come by this August for Eastern Washington, following a season in which they were left out of the FCS Playoffs following a 2017 campaign.

It helps that most of the contributors from that group are back. Aaron Best returns 17 starters, including 28 seniors - that number is higher than the previous two seasons combined.

After leaving their postseason hopes in someone else's hands last fall, their rallying cry this time around is simple: Leave no doubt.

"We're planning on winning every single game this season," offensive lineman Spencer Blackburn said. "That's the only way to make it for sure."

"We didn't control as much as we could have controlled," Best added. "We still have and still want that salty taste in our mouth from last year. But it means let's put it in our hands, let's leave it up to us and not somebody else."

Despite their shortcomings in year one under Best, expectations for Eastern have not softened. When the STATS FCS Preseason Poll came out Monday, the Eags sat ninth.

"You want to be in the position we're in rather than work our way to that," Best said. "But we gotta at least maintain or obviously get higher to accomplish this 2018 team's football goals."

To get back to the playoffs they're relying on all that experience. Two-time Walter Payton Player of the Year finalist Gage Gubrud is back to lead the offense for a third and final season. He returns a seasoned offensive line, which is led by Blackburn.

Gubrud has plenty of weapons around him, including All-Big Sky running back Antoine Custer and wideout Nsimba Webster.

Defensively Eastern is led by all-league safety Mitch Fettig, linebacker Ketner Kupp, and defensive lineman Jay-Tee Tiuli - who missed most of 2017 with an injury, following a first team All-Big Sky campaign the season prior.

Their experience has made for a smooth start to camp, and they hope it continues to benefit them once the season gets rolling.

"It's a lot faster," cornerback Josh Lewis said. "We're not thinking out there, we're just flying around out there and stuff like that. We kind of know how each other play, trying to feed off each other."

"That's what it comes down to," Blackburn said. "If you look at a lot of the teams that do good further down the road it's all these senior led teams.

"We have I think 28 seniors this year, I've never even heard of that. It's going to be awesome."

Eastern opens the season at home September 1 against Central Washington. After a visit to NAU, the Eags head to Pullman week three.