Eagles expect Jones to play
Banged-up star suffered abdominable contusion
Eastern Washington University head football coach Beau Baldwin has listed junior running back Taiwan Jones as probable for Saturday’s Big Sky Conference showdown at Weber State.
Jones, who suffered what team officials now describe as an abdominal contusion in the pelvic region late in the first half of Saturday’s 30-7 Big Sky loss at Montana State, saw an orthopedic physician on Monday and is expected to see only limited action in practice for at least the next couple of days.
“It’s just kind of a pain thing with him right now,” explained EWU’s head athletic trainer, Brian Norton, adding the injury has nothing to do with the hernia surgery Jones underwent during the offseason. “We’re getting the pain out of there and going from there.
“He’s probably going to sit out a couple of days of practice. We’ll treat it, get the pain down and then probably plug him back in … later in the week.”
The Eagles did not stage a full practice Monday, but will resume preparations for this weekend’s game this afternoon.
With Jones, who played only one snap in the second half at MSU, apparently on the mend, Baldwin must now deal with the hurt the Bobcats put on his team’s collective pride.
“I expect us to respond like guys who are pissed off; guys who are mad because they just got their butts kicked out there,” Baldwin said shortly after the loss. “Hopefully, we’ll respond to the salty taste in our mouths, just like we did after the Nevada loss.
“In football, and life, it’s all about how you respond. So the challenge is there for us, again, to see what we can do to respond in the right way. And the main focus in doing that will be our week of practice.”
Senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt is confident the Eagles will respond appropriately, just like they did in 2007 and 2009 when they bounced back from back-to-back Big Sky losses to earn at-large berths in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“I think we’re going to bounce back strong again,” Sherritt said. “Everybody was a part of the adversity and must-win playoff-like situations we’ve faced twice before.
“We’ve never gone unbeaten in the Big Sky. We’ve had to deal with at least a couple of losses every year I’ve been here. So, again, it’s something we know how to handle.”
Eastern’s loss to Montana State dropped the Eagles from ninth to 16th in the Sports Network Top 25 and from 10th to 17th in the FCS Coaches’ Poll.
MSU vaulted from 17th to 10th in the Sports Network ratings and from 16th to 10th in the coaches’ poll.
Montana, which was ranked No. 14 in both polls prior to Saturday’s 28-25 comeback win over Sacramento State, jumped to No. 12 in the Sports Network top 25 and No. 14 in the coaches’ rankings.
Larry on the mend
The Eagles also expect to have Anthony Larry, a redshirt freshman defensive end, available Saturday.
Larry, a 6-foot-3, 250-pounder, has missed the last two games after injuring a knee in the first quarter of Eastern’s 35-32 win over Central Washington.
Larry earned his first career start against the Wildcats with a solid three-tackle, one-sack effort in the season-opening, 49-24 loss at Nevada a week earlier.
There was not a shortage of spectators at games involving Big Sky teams on Saturday.
Montana drew a record crowd of 25,965 to Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula for its homecoming matchup against Sac State, and 14,207 fans were on hand at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont., to watch Montana State’s win over Eastern Washington.
In Ogden, Utah, Weber State played it homecoming game against UC Davis in front of a Stewart Stadium crowd 10,221, marking the first time the Wildcats have drawn more than 10,000 since 17,593 turned out in Ron McBride’s first game as head coach in 2005.
Idaho State’s homecoming crowd of 6,626 against Northern Arizona was the largest to attend a game in Holt Arena in two seasons. And Northern Colorado’s nonconference game at Michigan State drew 70,926 to Spartan Stadium.
Despite missing all but one play of the second half at Montana State, EWU’s Jones continues to lead the nation with an average of 238.8 all-purpose yards per game and is ranked No. 5 in rushing with an average of 129.5 yards per game. … Montana, second in the Big Sky in turnover margin last fall, has turned the ball over 14 times in its last three games and ranks seventh with a margin of minus-0.50 per game. … The touchdown pass Weber senior quarterback Cameron Higgins threw in Saturday’s 20-9 win over UC Davis, was the 91st of his career and moved him to within five of tying the all-time Big Sky record of 96 held jointly by former EWU star Matt Nichols and ex-Montana great Dave Dickenson.