Eastern Washington’s Cameron Zuber is finally where he wanted to be two years ago.
But the Eagles’ junior punter – fresh off a performance in last Saturday’s 16-0 win over Northern Colorado that earned him the Big Sky’s special teams player of the week award – certainly took a strange route to get there.
Zuber, who averaged 39.1 yards on seven punts against UNC and had five of those kicks downed inside the 20-yard line, first joined the team as a freshman walk-on in 2007 but was beaten out by Fritz Brayton, who handled the punting duties that fall and last year.
After losing that battle, he passed on trying out for the football team last fall during Beau Baldwin’s first season as the Eagles’ head coach. But he remained in school, and last spring approached Baldwin about trying again to earn the punting job.
According to Baldwin, Zuber and Nathan Overbay, Eastern’s senior tight end and a former high school teammate in Chehalis, Wash., came to him and asked about that possibility last spring.
Baldwin, who was serving as the head coach at Central Washington when in 2007, said he wasn’t sure what kept Zuber from trying out last fall.
“But I told him that as long as everything was in order and he was doing the right things, I’d give him a shot,” Baldwin said. “And he’s earned the job as our No. 1 punter. You could tell he was a little rusty at the start of camp this fall, but he’s gotten better every day.
“He’s done a great job.”
Points to ponder
The last time Weber State and Portland States hooked up at PGE Park in Portland, things got more than just a little crazy.
It was in October 2007 when PSU’s redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Hubel completed 35 of 56 passes for 485 yards and nine touchdowns – and lost. The 73-68 win went to Weber State, in what was then the highest-scoring game in NCAA Division I history.
Not surprisingly, neither of the head coaches involved want a repeat of that 2007 circus – which generated 1,189 yards of total offense – when the same teams meet again Saturday at PGE Park.
“I remember it was like a runaway freight train,” Weber State coach Ron McBride said, “and it’s not fun when you don’t have control of anything. The only thing I was happy about was that we won.”
PSU’s Jerry Glanville wonders if there will be another game like it.
“It was very unusual – 20 touchdowns,” he said. “I coached one year in 1977 (as an assistant for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons) where our defense gave up 11 touchdowns for the year, and we almost matched that in that one game, alone.
“Both defenses had a hard time.”
Three Big Sky teams – No. 4 Montana, No. 11 Weber State and No. 19 Eastern Washington – remained ranked in this week’s Sports Network Top 25 poll. In the Sagarin Ratings of Football Championship Subdivision schools, however, Montana is ranked fourth, followed by EWU (ninth), Northern Arizona (17th), Portland State (22nd) and Weber (24th). … Weber State, after committing eight turnovers in losses to Wyoming and California, did not turn the ball over once in last Saturday’s 44-17 win over Idaho State. … Weber tight end Cody Nakamura will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury suffered in the win over ISU. … Montana State punter Eric Fisher ranks third nationally with an average of 45.3 yards per kick. … Big Sky teams finished 0-10 against Football Bowl Subdivision schools this fall.