Preparation goes on for Eastern, Sam Houston opener, Aug. 23
EWU assistant coach Brian Strandley offers tips on the opening day of fall camp last Thursday.
Both Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State Universities are busily preparing to take the national stage and the curtain that will raise Saturday, Aug. 23 on the official start of the 2014 college football season and be telecast live on ESPN.
As the teams fine tune they do so in similar temperatures - the mid-90s in both Cheney and Hunstville, Texas - but with dynamically different barometric pressure. As the Eagles run through two-a-day practices they will do so in humidity of less than 20 percent. Some 2,100 miles away it's supposed to have been a soggy 80 percent in Huntsville.
Imagine longing to head to the dry heat here - the stuff we're really sick of after more days in the 90s so far than we generally get in all of summer - but SHSU athletic department people have said they can't wait. It beats the snow and freezing temperatures of the past two meetings in Cheney in December 2004 and 2012.
On the sidelines Eastern has a very familiar face in Beau Baldwin, now entering his seventh season as Eagles' head coach. The Bearkats' K.C. Keeler is, of course, new in Hunstville, but a veteran as a head coach in the college game since 1993.
Five practices into 2014 preseason camp, Keeler believes his first Sam Houston team is making progress. "Our goal is to get better every single practice," Keeler said on gobearkats.com.
While Eastern will put what they've learned so far into practice in the first scrimmage this Saturday, at approximately 9:50 a.m. on the red turf at Roos, Sam Houston takes the day off, opting for the first of their three scrimmages Monday, Aug. 11.
Ninety-five players are vying for spots on the 65-player traveling squad that will travel to Cheney for the FCS Kickoff Classic
A similar process is taking place in Cheney where players will also vie for the 65-member travel team that takes its first road trip to Seattle for a Saturday, Sept. 6 game at Husky Stadium versus the Pac-12's University of Washington.
"We started laying down the ground work for the Eastern Washington game the day the players reported Sunday (Aug. 3)," Keeler said. "The first three days of camp we were the only college team in the country practicing. ESPN has chosen us to play the number one team in the nation. That is a huge opportunity for us."
The Sam Houston preseason camp continues through Aug. 18 and then they prepare to travel to the Northwest. Eastern will practice through Thursday, Aug. 21.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.