Youngsters make case at Eastern
Thursday’s scrimmage at Roos Field gave everyone a chance to finalize their travel squads.
Eastern Washington coaches used the afternoon to settle their lineup, while fans organized their carpools for next week’s trip to Moscow.
Both groups got a bonus: a sneak peak at the future of Eagle football.
On a picture-perfect day and with most starters on the sideline, redshirt freshman Shaquille Hill and true freshmen Cooper Kupp and Jabari Wilson had a chance to shine:
• Wilson, a running back from Carson, Calif., showed power and elusiveness that belied his five carries for 18 yards;
• Kupp, a wide receiver from Yakima, was the leading receiver for the second straight scrimmage. He caught five balls for 60 yards, including a 35-yard grab that would have been an interception had Kupp not made an adjustment during his route;
• Hill, a wideout from Stockton, Calif., showed breakaway speed with 78 yards on four catches, highlighted by a 51-yard TD on a throw from Vernon Adams.
With All-Americans Nick Edwards, Brandon Kaufman and Greg Herd watching, Hill said he’s drawn from their collective advice to “just relax and do what you’re supposed to do.”
For the veterans and coaches, the future is now.
“When you get to that last scrimmage, I want to see some of these young guys and finalize our travel roster,” head coach Beau Baldwin said. “Now we’ll sort out our personnel, our one-deeps and two-deeps not only on offense and defense, but special teams as well.”
While Baldwin said he hopes to settle on a starting lineup by the end of the weekend, he emphasized that some positions may not be finalized until Thursday, when the Eagles play Idaho.
That includes cornerback, where Bo Schuetzle, a junior out of Shadle Park High, is hoping to win a starting spot, even if that means opponents may pick on him instead of T.J. Lee III, a first-team all-Big Sky selection last year.
“I hope so,” Schuetzle said. “That’ll make it fun.”
At quarterback, redshirt freshman Vernon Adams continues to push SMU transfer Kyle Padron. On Thursday, Adams was a 3-for-3 for 86 yards and two TDs, including the strike to Hill.
“I came out focused,” Adams said. “I liked that matchup, and I told Shaq in the huddle, ‘I’m going over the top.’ ”
Padron was 13-for-19 for 125 yards and two interceptions, although one was off a dropped ball. The other was an overthrow to a tight end on a crossing route.
“Obviously, there’s a couple of passes I’d like back,” Padron said. “But the game is slowing down for me.”
For others, the days are passing fast enough.
“We’re tired of hitting the same players,” Adams said.
The 55-play scrimmage included 33 passes and 22 rushes. Redshirt freshman safety Todd Raynes led the defense with an interception, a pass broken up and three tackles, and junior Jakob Pugsley had a pair of sacks and three other tackles. Senior linebacker Rusty Haehl and junior cornerback Ronald Baines each had four tackles. … Players get a break today, then shift to evening practices next week, mainly to acclimate players to the routine for the 6 p.m. kickoff at Idaho. Beginning Saturday, practice will focus on game preparation for the Vandals. “For most of camp, we’ve dabbled in scout team stuff,” Baldwin explained. “Now we’ll take it a step further.” … Practice on Saturday is at 4 p.m., followed by a trio of 5:45 practices on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. “I want them getting used to doing things during the day, then waiting to get on the field,” Baldwin said. … The Eagles will travel to Moscow on Wednesday. … Offensive lineman Clay DeBord suffered a bruised right leg during a play and was helped off the field; the injury is not serious. DeBord, a redshirt freshman from Asotin, Wash., is competing for the starting position at left tackle.