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A look back at Eags’ win over NAU

Eastern Washington’s defense came up big in Saturday’s 21-14 Big Sky Conference win over Northern Arizona on Saturday, and we’ve got some additional post-game comments from linebackers J.C. Sherritt and Zach Johnson,  a couple of big contributors to that defensive effort, below.

But the inconsistent play of his offense — alberit against an NAU defense that is as good against the run as any in the league — obviously has Eagles’ coach Beau Baldwin concerned heading into next Saturday’s Big Sky matchup against Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., especially with Taiwan Jones banged up once again.

For those who missed them last night, I included this link to the EWU-NAU game story that ran in Sunday morning’s S-R, and this link to what Eastern’s sports information department posted about the game.  I’ve also included this link to what NAU’s sports info folks posted, along with this link to the gamer that appeared in The Arizona Daily Sun.

Read on.

Sherritt and Johnson were both asked about the difference between this year’s win over NAU and last year’s, when the Eagles gave up 747 total yards but still managed to outlast the Lumberjacks 49-45 in Flagstaff, Ariz.

NAU quarterback Michael Herrick threw for 574 yards and four TDs in the loss, but didn’t look nearly as impressive on Saturday.

“It was just a matter of settling down in our pass coverage — especially me,” Sherritt said, when asked about the way the Eagles were able to contain Herrick this time around. “They picked on me and exposed me a little bit last yearr, but we all watched a lot of film from that game, critiqued ourselves and came out here with a good, solid game plan.”

Johnson gave a lot of credit to Eastern’s front four, which was able to keep Herrick uncomfortable in the pocket without having to rely on a bunch of blitzing.

“Early on, our d-line really got after him,” Johnson said. “They’re a bunch of studs up there, and they always get after the quarterback.  But our focus all week was on just doing our own jobs and not get caught up in trying to do too much.

“If they run away, our outside linebacker tries to stay home for the bubble (screen) and trust that our other linebacker is going to make the tackle. Just do your own job and trust in the other 10 guys doing theirs — that’s what we were focused on.”

As for being put in some difficult situations by an Eastern offense that turned the ball over five times, Johnson added:

“As a defense, we like being put in those situations. We get amped up for that; try to get our crowd amped up, and prove to ourselves that we can come up with stops in those situations. I think we tend to play better in those situations.”

And here’s what Baldwin had to say about his defense:

“We just tried to make (Herrick) earn everything — keep things in front and do the best that we can to not give him free shots. Everything they were getting today, when they did hit something, you felt like it was earned.  We had guys covering up receivers, running backs were having to break tackles, and I just thought our guys were doing a great job of recognizing things and understanding what they were going to see offensively from (the Lumberjacks).

“That’s a great job, and a tribute to the defensive staff and the effort that goes into each week.”

When asked what his offense needs to do to be better against UNC next Saturday, Baldwin said:

“We’ve just got to clean some thing up and get into a better rhythm — the type of rhythm we were in at Weber (State).  At times you felt it out here today. We just shot ourselves in the foot.

“We’re not getting points when we need to, even if they’re not touchdowns. So we’ve got to clean it up. We’ve got to execute in the field-goal department, also. There’s just a lot of little things we have to clean up to make a run at this (Big Sky) championship.”



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Jacob Thorpe (@JacobThorpe) Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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