Expectations are high year after year for the Eags. Deep playoff runs have become the norm, and big name quarterbacks are aplenty. Gage Gubrud knows something about that. But last fall he fell short of expectations in more ways than one. Now he has a clear focus as he enters the final year of his Eastern career.
"In 2016 Gage had a phenomenal year," EWU head coach Aaron Best said. "We didn't even know how to pronounce the name of the kid two weeks prior to Washington State. And then last year he had a very above average year, but compared to the year before it was like 'oh, that was a drop off'."
Last fall wasn't the sequel Gubrud and the Eags wanted to his smash hit sophomore season. After a Big Sky record 5,766 total yards with 48 passing touchdowns, he racked up 3,616 and threw for 26 scores. Gubrud went from a Walter Payton Player of the Year Award finalist, to second team All-Big Sky. Good, but not great.
"There's a lot of teams and a lot of players that would take that year," Best added.
As the third year starter enters his senior season, getting back to the record shattering stats and adding to his list of accolades isn't top priority.
"We look forward to whatever Gage gives us," Best said. "But just like last year we're gonna challenge him to be a leader on and off the field."
That comes with the territory as a senior quarterback.
"It's good to be looked at as a leader, and I'm gonna make sure I improve in that category," Gubrud said.
And there is room for improvement in that area.
Gubrud, along with teammate Kurt Calhoun, was arrested for obstructing last November. According to police reports Gubrud interfered with a friend's arrest. The result in 2017 was a one game suspension. The byproduct this year is a quarterback focused on accountability.
"If I see another guy slipping up or if they see me slipping up we're gonna call each other out in front of whoever," Gubrud said. "Because everyone is held to that standard, we're gonna make sure everyone coaches, trainers, equipment staff is held to that same standard."
After a season that fell short of the playoffs for his team, as well as expectations on and off the field for himself, Gage hopes to make the most of his final go round in Cheney.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to come out here every day with these guys and play football," Gubrud said. "Play the game that I've loved since second grade. Really excited for that and my focus is really just to improve myself every day and make sure I'm making other people better on this field every single day. So that's the main goal for me,"
Gage and the Eags are five practices into spring ball. They are scheduled to have their first scrimmage Friday at 3:30 p.m. The Red-White Spring Game is April 28th.