Beau Baldwin was dealing with some mixed feelings Saturday afternoon after putting his Eastern Washington football team through its first scrimmage of spring drills.
The Eagles offense ran 55 plays, turning several into big gains, but coughed up the football four times. You can read the scrimmage story that appeared in Sunday morning’s S-R here; you can check out what EWU’s sports information office had to say about the scrimmage here, and check out video highlights from both KREM and KXLY.
I’ve included some personal thoughts below on Saturday’s scrimmage and EWU’s ongoing quarterback competition, along with some additional post-scrimmage comments from Baldwin and Bo Levi Mitchell.
Please read on, and feel free to leave any commments you might have on anything Eastern football right here.
The two things that impressed me the most during the scrimmage session the Eagles to close their fifth practice of the spring on Saturday were the strong and accurate right arm of transfer quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, and the play of Eastern’s offesive line, which looks bigger, stronger and faster than it did last season — even with projected starter Brice Leahy, who is still being held out of contact drills as he attempts to come back from a devastating knee injury suffered in an accident unrelated to football.
Mitchell looked both poised and comfortable operating the No. 1 offensive unit and continued to gush about having Brandon Kaufman, a 6-foot-5, 205-pounder, and Nicholas Edwards, a 6-3, 200-pounder as targets at the wide receiver positions.
“It’s nice to have Nic and Brandon out there,” said Mitchell, who connected with Edwards on a 29-yard touchdown pass. “They’re so big, you can just kind of toss the ball up there and let them go get it.
“They might not be 4.3 (40 meter) guys, but they both have big strides and can really eat up ground.”
The improvement in the O-line became apparent on the first play of the scrimmage, when the big hogs up front opened up a hugh hole over left tackle for Darriell Beaumonte, who raced 85 yards before being forced out of bounds.
On the day, the Eagles rushed for 198 yards on 28 carries — all without the services of All-American Taiwan Jones, who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore last fall, but is also being held out of contact drills this spring after undergoing off-season surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Still, the Eagles’ offensive coughed up the football three times — twice on interceptions and once on one of three fumbles. And it was fumbles and interceptions that was at the root of Baldwin’s mixed feelings.
“I want us to get better about taking care of the football,” Baldwin said. “But on the flip side of that, I love the fact that our defense created turnovers, so it’s a fine line.
“What I don’t want, though, is running backs fumbling in situations where there isn’t an incredible play by the defense, and we had a couple of those today. That’s what I want to get away from. If a (defender) makes a great play or an interceptions, that’s what I want to see from our defense. But I definitell think we need to take care of the football a little bit better.
“And on defense, I want to see us eliminate some of the big plays. I thought we had some good negative plays where we really stuffed the offense. But at the same time, our goal a lot of times is to try to avoid giving up more than one or two 25-yard plays the entire games, and we started (the scrimmage) out with an 85-yard play against us.”