Fifth-ranked Eagles’ stock improves
Beau Baldwin admits he looks at the polls.
“We’re only human,” Eastern Washington’s football coach said on Election Day afternoon before practice at Roos Field.
“I’m not going to stand here and say we don’t think about it and talk about it.”
In Baldwin’s case, “it” means The Sports Network poll, the one that has the Eagles ranked fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The Eagles (7-2 overall, 5-1 Big Sky Conference) have two more games to play before selection day on Nov. 18, when they’ll learn their seeding in the FCS bracket.
The Eagles’ stock improved after last week’s 34-17 win over Cal Poly, which coincided with the return of several key players and perhaps the best all-around offensive performance of the week.
This week Eastern gets UC Davis (3-5, 2-4), a newcomer to the Big Sky that won’t be overlooked. That’s happened once already, when the Eagles lost their top ranking after a 30-27 upset loss at Southern Utah.
“Anyone in the Big Sky who doesn’t have a winning record, they’ve probably played some pretty tough teams,” Baldwin said.
Moreover, the Aggies are coming off a bye week following a 49-21 loss at Portland State.
Eastern is “healthier than we’ve been in five or six weeks,” Baldwin said, especially with the return of linebackers Zach Johnson and Cody McCarthy.
“It’s awesome,” senior linebacker Grant Williams said. “If you watched film from last week, we were fresh and we flew around.”
Better yet, safety Jeff Minnerly was in pads for the first time since suffering a collarbone injury on Sept. 29 against Montana.
The offense is hitting its stride despite being down to a committee of two at running back while Jordan Talley is recovering from a concussion.
Against Cal Poly, the Eagles’ Quincy Forte had 15 carries for 85 yards Demitrius Bronson had 17 rushes for 82 yards, plus a touchdown.
For the game, and even subtracting 10 scrambles by quarterback Vernon Adams, the Eagles ran the ball 37 times and passed 29.
Yardage was as balanced as it gets: 288 rushing, 251 passing.
Adams was named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week following his 19-for-29, 288-yard effort against Cal Poly that included three touchdown passes.
Nine games into the season, Baldwin could almost claim “mission accomplished” on his major preseason goal of a balanced offense.
“I didn’t want to say it just to say it,” Baldwin said. “The success, a big portion of that is from what we did in spring and fall camp – 44 practices.”