Baldwin hopes to take personal sting out of a tough loss
Coach tries to pick up spirits of players after No. 1 Eagles fall 30-27 at Southern Utah
Beau Baldwin, the coach, now sports a 39-18 won-lost record at Eastern Washington University following the Eagles’ 30-27 Big Sky Conference football loss to Southern Utah University last Saturday in Cedar City, Utah.
The record for Beau Baldwin, part-time psychoanalyst, has never been recorded but one has to guess it’s maybe pretty good too.
Baldwin said during Monday night’s coaches show that he had some serious consoling to do following Eastern’s loss that was administered by one swift kick to the gut from Colton Cook and his 36-yard field goal with 3 seconds to play.
The loss, the first in Big Sky Conference play for the Eagles, knocked them off their perch as the No.1 ranked Football Championship Subdivision in the nation after two weeks atop the poll.
It seemed to weigh especially heavy on the shoulders of two players, Baldwin said. So he made it a point to take time to speak individually with both Demitrius Bronson and Jimmy Pavel.
Bronson, who has made huge strides this season recovering from injuries and is second in rushing behind injured Quincy Forte, scored an early touchdown on the brand new Eccles Coliseum Sprinturf to break a 13-13 tie early in the second half.
But it was Bronson who saw the ball squirt out of his hands on the SUU 12-yard line just seconds into the fourth quarter as Eastern was driving for a potential score that would have given the Eagles a two-touchdown lead.
“I saw both of them later, I went to both of them and (said) we’re going to move on, we’re going to correct it,” Baldwin told host and Eastern play-by-play voice, Larry Weir.
“That’s the last thing either of those guys want to have happen is a fumble or a missed kick,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin affirmed to U of W transfer Bronson that he was working his tail off while filling in for the injured Quincy Forte. “At that moment there, when that guy’s down, you bring him up, you lift him up going into next week,” Baldwin said.
As for Pavel, Baldwin reminded him “We wouldn’t be 5-0 in conference if it weren’t for as well as he’s kicked.”
He missed one at that time, sure. “But who knows, if he misses that one just before half at Montana State maybe we don’t win that game,” Baldwin said. “It’s football.”
If there were any odds on when Eastern might fall off its tightrope where four of the Eagles’ biggest Big Sky wins this year have come by an average of just 4.5 points, it had to be Saturday. Cedar City lies just 90 miles from Nevada gambling in the metropolis of Mesquite.
Southern Utah seemed due to end its frustration that saw winless neighbor and upstate rival, Weber State, steal a 24-22 victory the week before Eastern’s visit. And there was the Oct. 6 T-Birds’ 27-22 loss, also at home, to Sacramento State.
So just five points was the difference between Eastern playing a team Saturday on SUU’s Senior Day that had nothing to lose as opposed to a T-Birds’ team that could just as easily have been challenging the Eagles for a share of first place.
“That was their bowl game, whatever you want to call it,” Baldwin explained. “They’re going to give you their best shot.”
And they did, especially All-American quarterback Brad Sorenson who, when it was needed, found the way directing the game’s decisive drive that concluded with Cook’s perfectly placed field goal.
“We played very similar football games, both sides,” Baldwin said. “In other words our total yards were similar (495-492 EWU), we both had a turnover in the red zone, we both had a missed field goal; they made one more play on special teams,” that being Miles Killebrew breaking through to both block a Jake Miller punt, recover and return it for the T-Birds’ first touchdown 6:15 into the game.
Other than that it was a very similar game for both teams, Baldwin said. “They were able to make one of two more plays than us.”
Fans of the Eagles will quickly draw comparisons between 2012 edition and that of the 2010 squad that also often drew a fine line between wins and losses. But Baldwin says there really isn’t much of a link between the two teams, despite the way that both have found many ways to keep from falling off the ledge.
“Every team’s its own and sometimes we get caught up in making comparisons of 2010,” Baldwin said. “At some point (you say) this is 2012; this is its own year, its own schedule, its own team.”
And there probably isn’t anybody better who would really know than Baldwin the coach and Baldwin the shrink.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.