Jim: Greetings, Eagle fans, from the comfort of my living room!. Everyone staying warm?
InferNoMercy (guest): Soup weather for sure... I saw that Coastal Carolina actually had soup on sideline vs Montana a few years back. Is EWU doing anything out of the ordinary to combat cold weather for players??
Jim: More than any game,that was a stunner, as "warm-weather" CC dominated the Griz in frigid weather.
Jim: EWU is doing the usual stuff - heaters on the sidelines, pushing liquids. But they don't have an indoor practice facility (the field house isn't adequate).
Guest7548 (guest): I have been spending time outside to acclimate for Saturday haha
Jim: I think I'll stay inside. I did shovel the driveway this morning, however.
Casey (guest): We can assume YSU will be better prepared for the elements than Richmond was. The Spiders didn't even have coats/jackets on the sideline.
Jim: Yes. The Penguins played Wofford in 25 degrees last week and are accustomed to this. They also have an indoor facility.
Jim: By the way, look for my story in tomorrow's Spokesman-Review on how the EWU players and coaches (and YSU too) are dealing with the expected low temps.
Jim: Wake up and read it!
Guest7548 (guest): These are Ohio kids; weather is not going to be the deciding factor. My opinion can the run the ball, can we catch the ball
Casey (guest): They can practice inside all they want. They still have to come here and deal with our team. I anticipate we see a lot of running
Jim: YSU is a run-first team with a QB who's more of a game manager (see my story from today). EWU has been stuffing the run pretty well, so we'll see.
Casey (guest): No one has blocked Samson in weeks so they will struggle dropping back. When teams commit extra guys to #3, our other lineman are getting pressure. It’s been rather impressive to watch.
Jim: Very impressive. Check out the tackles stats from last week: the LBs (and Ebukam) got 7-8 each and the safeties had just seven combined. That means you're dominating the line of scrimmage.
Guest7548 (guest): Zamora played great last week. I assume he is still good. What about Calhoun?
Jim: Sorry, EWU is pretty mum on injuries. Everyone's "questionable" these days, it seems. I didn't check on whether Calhoun was in pads Tuesday.
Jim: And frankly it was so cold, I didn't last half an hour!
Casey (guest): Completely agree with both of those thoughts. Zamora was all over the place early and set the tone. I was pleased to see the coaches sit him in the second half. No need risking that hammy.
Jim: Smart move by the coaches, who are doing the same with Kupp. However, I think they'll see more action this week if the game is on the line in the second half.
GoEags88: Coop with the 4th straight All America honors, what a huge accomplishment!
Casey (guest): An amazing accomplishment. Lots of hard work from him and his teammates goes into that.
Jim: Four straight years - let that sink in, folks. And Saturday will be his final game at Roos - the best player in EWU history, IMO.
Jim: I've gotten to know him well the last five seasons, and he's special for a lot of things besides the numbers.
Jim: Also note that Gubrud was second team AA and Ebukam third team. But the way he's playing lately, who could be better?
Casey (guest): I don't think it’s close either. Especially when you consider all he has done for the school and program. He is a great role model too. My son thinks he is the best because of stuff he says and does...not just catching balls.
InferNoMercy (guest): Coop makes it look easy. I remember watching Kaufmann and thinking he was best ever, Hope we can send him off with a natty
Jim: Yes, Kaufman was special - the best long-ball threat I've seen at Eastern. Kupp is more versatile and his NFL stock keeps going up.
GoEags (guest): No doubt #10 makes it easy to be a proud eagle!
Casey (guest): We have certainly been spoiled at EWU with talented wideouts. Jeff Ogden was on the field last time we played YSU and he was quite the force.
InferNoMercy (guest): have they finalized beau's extension?
Jim: No. I asked AD Bill Chaves that question on Tuesday, and he said it's being "worked on." Once it's done, I will file a public records request and get all the details and publish them. That may not happen until next month, however.
Casey (guest): Not to poo-poo the extension, but it feels like this probably accomplished two things. 1. Increase the compensation. 2. Increase the buyout to protect the university. Gotta believe Beau was good with both so we are protected when the time comes.
Jim: Perhaps, but I recall a very small buyout in the current contract. That won't be a factor if he does leave.
Guest7548 (guest): Should be highest-paid coach in BS. It will be interesting if any additional comp is found for Asst. coaches
Jim: Probably. Baldwin is at about $220K plus incentives. Most Big Sky coaches are in the $175K range.
GoEags (guest): How many folks we get in the seats this weekend?
Jim: At Roos, or in the warming hut known as Reese Court?
Jim: Seriously, they should draw 5K for a semifinal that's also the final game for one of the most successful senior classes of all time.
GoEags (guest): over under @ 5,000?
Jim: That's the contest for today - let's hear some guesses!
InferNoMercy (guest): my prediction is 6K
Guest7548 (guest): I was surprised to see it is only on ESPNU. REAL FANS are in the stands
Casey (guest): Ok...I'm ready to talk defense. I was so impressed with the defense last week, and honestly have grown in confidence each week, that I had to remind myself where I was. This is not something we are used to seeing in Cheney and it has been a revelation. We were flying all over the field and dictating play. I was especially impressed with the way our secondary continued to set the edge vs the run and the coverage was fantastic! A few times their QB had all day and no one to throw to.
Casey (guest): Are we going to sustain that this weekend?
GoEags88: It was a blast watching the D last week
Jim: Good points, Casey. It's probably time to start comparing this defense with the 2010 team. I didn't cover the team until 2012, so you guys are more in the know.
Jim: I do know that the 2010 team had 47 takeaways - incredible!
GoEags (guest): Best Eastern D I've seen in person, with #3 having the best individual performance I’ve seen in person.
Casey (guest): Tickets sold will be higher than butts in the seats. Probably sell 6000 but only 4500 get in the stadium for very long
Jim: That sounds about right.
Casey (guest): The defense in 2010 was opportunistic as you mentioned. They came up big but we were still in shootouts a lot and they forced turnovers.
Jim: Great athletes too, the Johnson twins and size and athleticism across the D-line
Casey (guest): I feel like this defense can win us a game or hold a team down when the offense is struggling. It’s just a different level of confidence as a fan. And we can substitute without a huge drop-off.
Jim: Quite the difference from last year, when they couldn't get off the field.
GoEags (guest): Quite the difference from the last few years. Refreshing!
Casey (guest): Our secondary especially. They are all so cohesive in their coverage that it lets our D-line wreak havoc. We are different with #4 on the field but his injuries have been a blessing as other guys have gotten experience.
Jim: Also, Kacmarcik should be back this week and the LB corps should be back at full strength.
Casey (guest): The guys are the ones making the plays and executing, but I've been impressed with how Schmedding has been more attack minded as the season has gone on. We've gone from a bend, don't-break defense to more of a "we are coming for you and every yard is gonna be tough."
Jim: Another good point, Casey. That was part of the idea when Baldwin changed DCs and Schmedding went with the 4-2-5 - more aggression. I expected more of that last year, but the corners needed some maturing. That’s paying off this year.
Guest7548 (guest): The D line is much bigger than 2010. Nothing compares to Sampson. Johnson's and Sherritt just seemed to find the ball. That said 2010 have a Natty.
GoEags (guest): How good is young Kupp playing right now? Ive been impressed!
Jim: Very solid, and he has a nose for the ball.
Guest7548 (guest): Great point won KUPP GoEags
Casey (guest): My greatest fear this weekend is the letdown. We have hosted this game before and not been ready. I think what KHB has been saying all year is true. This is a different team.
Jim: And that's precisely why they will be ready. Baldwin and the staff have been through the heartbreaks in 2012 and 2013 and will get Eastern out of the gates faster this time (I think.)
Casey (guest): Our tackling has improved tremendously as well. Kupp and the other backers are hitting some people while bringing them down instead of just going for big hits and whiffing.
GoEags (guest): I hope the fact that the Eags have been here twice in recent years and came up just short wont allow a letdown.
Jim: No one in the program has forgotten Towson, I can assure you.
Casey (guest): I'm with you GoEags.
GoEags88: What are you're thoughts on the JMU-NDSU matchup, Jim?
Jim: I was off last Friday night. Went to a restaurant on the South Hill that had the JMU-Sam Houston game on three screens, so I couldn't avoid it. JMU's defense was very athletic, shutting down run and pass.
Jim: You want a prediction? I say James Madison wins - that's right. JMU 24, NDSU 20
Jim: Which means a lot more hotel rooms availabie in Frisco.
GoEags (guest): Bold pick! JMU looks hot, but NDSU looked tough as ever against SDSU. Hotel rooms and tickets Jim.
Casey (guest): I thought NDSU was shocked when SDSU came out and went right down the field on them last week. The problem was the Jacks couldn't sustain the attack and their defense ran out of steam. NDSU just wore them down. I don't see that happening with JMU.
Jim: I know teams have ups and downs. That was a revenge game for NDSU, and they looked pretty tough after falling behind 10-0. JMU looked unbeatable against Sam Houston. Funny that they beat Richmond by only four points!
Casey (guest): Composure is so critical at this time of the year. NDSU has it in abundance. No one on that team has ever lost a playoff game. So they don't panic. Sam Houston...they panicked. Richmond...they panicked. Composure will carry the day this weekend in both games. Makes me feel good. Pelini hasn't been composed since his wedding day and he likely threw a tantrum that day. The team follows the coach. Beau is always composed.
Guest1033 (guest): Just live David & Goliath. Goliath wasn't dead until David chopped off his head. NDSU has nine lives in that building.
Jim: Plus they're pretty good.
Casey (guest): Great analogy, 1033
Jim: Pelini is a hothead, no doubt. And now I have a gripe against him because he wouldn't return my phone calls this week.
Guest1033 (guest): Hey Jim, any injuries going into Saturday other than #10?
Jim: Nothing serious. Zamora looked great last week - credit to the coaches for holding him out against Central Arkansas the week before.
GoEags (guest): Ugh, I can still see the two picks sail through hands that would have sealed it in the dome for us in September. 9 lives is right!
Guest1033 (guest): Rumors out of Ohio is that YSU's two starting safeties as well as 2-3 other players will be suspended Saturday. Anything you can confirm? Pelini and their AD aren't talking.
GoEags (guest): Seems the rumors of YSU suspensions are true. Hear anything concrete? Anything on our end?
Jim: I ran that story on Wednesday. I've also heard that's it's the two starting safeties (they allegedly tested positive for drugs after a game). Also their No. 2 RB is facing a weapons charge.
Guest1033 (guest): It makes sense they’re mum so EWU coaches don't know who to prepare for.
GoEags (guest): Leading reciever/punt returner was also on the rumored list.
Jim: That's right - we'll know for sure on Saturday,
Jim: Problem is, I can't publish rumors, and you're right - no one at YSU is talking.
Casey (guest): Hey Jim, any idea which conference will send officials this weekend? It looked like the Barnum and Bailey conference sent last week’s officials.
Jim: No. sorry.
Casey (guest): The No. 2 back only played that one snap last week and that kid they had in ran just fine. We are going to have to stop the run and force them to throw. Who is running won't matter. I loved how often we hit their back last week. Every time he had the ball in that cold weather he was getting drilled
Jim: They had a two-headed monster at RB all season, and both have about 1,150 to 1,200 yards. Their power back, Martin Ruiz, is the one with the weapons charge. The starter will be 5-9, 175-lb Jody Webb, who's one of the quickest backs EWU will face this year.
Casey (guest): When are the Penguins set to arrive? Will they come in tonight like Richmond did last week?
Jim: In his press conference on Tuesday, Pelini said they were flying to Spokane Thursday night.
GoEags (guest): The suspended guy was their big back, and if I'm not mistaken their career rushing leader. IT's a blow.
Casey (guest): Great point 1033. The wide run seems to be a throwaway play at this point. Like we do it just to set up the stuff up the middle.
Casey (guest): The 97 team could pound that ball. Rex and Mike were beasts.
Jim: Anyone here who was at that game?
Casey (guest): The icy conditions didn't help with footing.
Casey (guest): I was at that game. My sophomore year of college. Busloads of Montana fans came over. We got hosed on a BS fumble call. Harry was laying on the ground when the ball came out.
Jim: Thanks, Casey. Yes, I talked to Harry Leons about that yesterday.
Jim: Eight minutes left, let's see some predictions!
Guest1033 (guest): Prediction EWU 28 YSU 17
GoEags (guest): 31-14 Eags
Casey (guest): 31-10. I think we make a big play on Special teams that crushes their spirit.
Jim: Is it just me, or had EWU excelled at not giving up the big play on special teams this year?
GoEags (guest): You're right! Kick coverage has been mostly outstanding all year.
GoEags88: EWU 34 YSU 24
InferNoMercy (guest): 27-13 Eags
Guest7548 (guest): 28-10, +3 on the turnover ratio. Frisco in January.
Casey (guest): Jim...and the rest of you, just wanted to say that I appreciate the time in these chats. Not a lot of spots out there to talk EWU football.
Casey (guest): I don't want to hear any of that Jim. Still 2 games to go.
Jim: Thanks, Casey.
Jim: And I have it 34-20 for Eastern.
Guest7548 (guest): Everyone bring a friend to Game. You just have to dress in layers and drink warm spirits
Jim: BTW, they're giving out FREE coffee and hot chocolate at all concessions.
Casey (guest): I'm bringing one and so is my son. Can't wait until Saturday!
GoEags (guest): Good call 75! Bring your friends.
Guest7548 (guest): Might have to bring your own "spirits"
Casey (guest): Hope they don't run out at the concessions this week Jim. The gathering under the press box was out before the second quarter last week.
Jim: No, they better not!
Casey (guest): Have a great rest of the week. See you all Saturday! GoEags!!!!
Guest7548 (guest): Thanks Jim for all you have done this year
GoEags (guest): Cant't wait for this one! Let's do this Eags! Thanks as always Jim
Jim: Thanks, everyone, for some great chats this year - if EWU wins, we'll do it again before the title game.