Defense does have its day, too, in first fall scrimmage of 2013
Over the 90 minutes the Eastern Washington University Eagles spent out on the red carpet at Roos Field in last Saturday’s first fall camp scrimmage, a lot of the time seemed to favor the offense.
However, Eagles’ head coach Beau Baldwin saw things differently.
“I thought it was the type of scrimmage where both sides did great things,” Baldwin said. “We got to hit a lot of different things that could happen during the season, like our backs are against the wall coming out, red zone and sudden change."
While the offense scored eight times and racked up over 450 yards of total offense, the defense had its day too with a pair of turnovers, including one returned for a touchdown in the 86-play scrimmage.
Presumed starting quarterback Vernon Adams led the offense with 204 yards passing as the sophomore led long drives of over 80 yards each as the Eagles prepare for their season opener Aug. 31 at Oregon State University.
Much of the offense, however, came off short-yardage situations that Baldwin scripted specifically to provide true game-like conditions.
“I think the advantage is if we get in those situations on Saturdays, it is not the first time,” Baldwin said. “I don’t want to set the ball down and go, and not get enough red zone or enough fourth downs. I just want to prepare our guys for the season.”
Adams completed 17 of 27 passes for 159 yards and three scores. He also had an interception returned 55 yards for a score by sophomore safety Todd Raynes.
“He has taken a leadership role,” Baldwin said of Adams. “He progresses every day in camp, and he is getting better.”
Backup quarterback Anthony Vitto was 12 of 16 for 105 yards and a pair of scores while redshirt freshman Jordan West was 3 of 7 for 43 yards.
Another youngster, Cooper Kupp, a redshirt freshman caught nine passes for 77 yards and a pair of scores, and the eye of Baldwin.
“I was joking and asked him if he got in the end zone, and he told me twice,” Baldwin said with a laugh. Seriously, however, Baldwin has noticed the youngster out of Davis High School in Yakima. “He has been as consistent a young player as I have seen. That is a tribute to his mental toughness.”
The running game showed off a new, younger look with veterans Demitrius Bronson and Quincy Forte sidelined with injuries.
Redshirt freshman running backs Jabari Wilson (42 yards) and Jalen Moore (35) helped the ground game finish with 159 yards rushing. Moore also scored a touchdown.
On defense, senior All-American linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had three tackles, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery. Senior cornerback Bo Schuetzle added a pair of tackles, a forced fumble and a pass broken up.
Despite being put at regular disadvantages with bad field position during the scrimmage, Baldwin noticed a toughness that emerged on defense.
“We came out of the summer as physical as I can ever remember,” he said. “We still have to work on our running and timing like everyone else is at this time, but there is a physicalness that is a little bit different than some years past.”
Hamlin’s play – and leadership – never goes unnoticed by Baldwin.
“Ronnie comes to work, brings his lunch pail and does his deal,” Baldwin said. “He leads by example. He will say stuff when he needs to, but for the most part it is about his work ethic and how hard he plays (that the guys learn from).”
The Eagles will scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 24 at 9:45 a.m. at Roos Field, their final true tuneup before they hit the road to face the Pac-12 Beavers in Corvallis.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.