Eastern's youth rules the day
New faces are run through the paces in final tune-up for Oregon State
EWU receiver Daniel Johnson makes a one-handed catch for a touchdown last Saturday.
Auditions were held for additional roles in Eastern Washington University’s upcoming 12-week football season that they plan – not hope – to add additional dates to the schedule.
In the end following Eastern Washington’s final scrimmage of the 2013 preseason camp last Saturday at Roos Field, Eagles’ head coach Beau Baldwin liked what he saw, because he saw a lot of what he calls his “2s” and “3s” in reference to the depth chart.
“We continued to work the young guys at tight end, running back and receiver because we still have some decisions to make before the Oregon State game,” Baldwin said at the conclusion of the 61-play situational scrimmage.
With four experienced running backs sitting out the hard hits, saving themselves for Saturday’s opening game at Corvallis against Oregon State of the Pac-12, it gave some younger players their chance to impress.
And they did.
Jalen Moore, who is behind four other running backs on the depth chart, made his case for playing time with 74 yards on 14 carries, including a 34-yard run. Cody Hecker from Sandpoint, Idaho, added 62 yards on 12 carries.
Daniel Johnson, a senior backup receiver, made two impressive catches – one a one-handed grab for a touchdown – and finished with 49 yards receiving. Albert Havili and Jake Gall, who are competing to play at linebacker and special teams as true freshmen, had seven and four tackles, respectively. And Jake Hoffman, a 2013 graduate of Spokane’s North Central High School, ended the scrimmage with an interception.
The youth movement Saturday included at least one veteran, however.
The offense, featuring sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams, had another productive outing with 329 yards of offense and three long touchdown drives. Adams scored once and passed for two more TDs, completing 4-of-7 passes for 83 yards.
Backup quarterback Anthony Vitto also led the offense on a 68-yard scoring drive, capped by a 7-yard pass to new tight end Zach Wimberly, a former D-line guy. The senior Vitto finished 3-of-5 for 41 yards, and freshman redshirt Jordan West was 5-of-10 for 60 yards.
“From an offensive standpoint, there were some guys that were learning some new positions in two or three days,” Baldwin said.
One was Ryan Seto, who is playing tight end and as a wide receiver in our sets with motion, and another is Wimberly.
A goal offensively was to get those guys some reps, and get a feel for them there, Baldwin added when discussing the moves.
“From a defensive standpoint, I think we have a lot of freshmen who can help us,” Baldwin said. “When they are out there with a couple of veterans around them you are able to see them make plays and fit right in.”
Baldwin said because there were a lot of freshmen on the field together it was tough to gauge things on the bigger picture. “But I saw things at camp that made me excited about the depth of our team,” he said.
“As a team goal, we wanted to hit two or three more situations on both sides of the ball, and we wanted to hit some more reps at the goal line,” Baldwin said of the situational nature of the early part of the scrimmage.
“We felt that was an area we needed more reps, and we did that in the beginning (of the scrimmage). We wanted to get in a four-minute drill which is basically where the offense will try to kill the clock and the defense will try to get a stop to get the ball back.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.