It wasn’t posted on YouTube, but Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin body-bumped one of his players last Saturday night.
That would be quarterback Kyle Padron, whose fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Brandon Kaufman gave the Eagles a two-score cushion lead en route to a 31-28 win over Sacramento State on Saturday.
“I told them I’d do it if we got a two-score lead,” joked Baldwin with reporters before Tuesday’s practice at Roos Field, where the top-ranked Eagles prepared for this weekend’s game at Southern Utah.
“I was just happy to keep my feet.”
Only at Eastern is a quarterback controversy this warm and fuzzy. The Eagles don’t even call it that. How could they, what with Padron and Vernon Adams hugging each other after games and going to church together?
“I kind of feel like an older brother,” Padron, who started the season’s first two games before yielding the starting role to the more mobile Adams, then took the Eagles to the finish line last week against Sacramento State.
“He’s the future of this program, and I’m doing whatever I can to help him.”
Adams, whose scramble and touchdown pass against Sacramento State quickly made it on YouTube, sees it the same way.
“He’s like a big brother and we’re just there for each other,” Adams said.
But in the short-term future, the Eagles (6-1 overall, 4-0 Big Sky Conference) are looking for every advantage, and that means keeping opposing defenses guessing as to which quarterback they’ll face.
“Both are so unselfish and the team understands that,” Baldwin said. “All it does it making you stronger when the opposing defense is hit with two different styles.”
For the season, Padron is 62 for 124 (50.0 percent) for 978 yards six touchdowns and four interceptions; Adams is 73 for 118 for 893 yards, 10 TDs and four picks. Adams also has 194 yards on the ground; Padron has 54, but showed flashes of speed in two long scrambles in the fourth quarter against Sac State.
“Padron has been making incredible strides in practice and has been doing some things I didn’t think he did quite as well in the beginning of the season,” Baldwin said.
Unlike the past two games, when Adams was the designated starter, Baldwin said he would “feel this out” for most of the week, even until Saturday, before deciding on a starter.
Baldwin said the tightness of Saturday’s game wasn’t a factor in the decision to go with Padron in the second quarter. He said that film revealed mistakes on both offense and defense that made the game “closer than it should have been” given a 454 to 288 advantage in total yardage.
That also speaks to the top-to-bottom strength of the conference, Baldwin said after a weekend when first-place teams Eastern and Cal Poly both struggled, while previously winless Weber State knocked off Southern Utah (3-5, 2-3).
Notes: The Eagles will practice in Cheney through Thursday, then fly via charter to Cedar City, Utah. The team will return to Spokane Saturday night. … Starting offensive tackle Clay DeBord is probable this week after missing the Sacramento State game with a knee injury. Defensive end Andru Pulu is questionable this week after an ankle injury suffered last weekend. Linebacker Zach Johnson remains questionable with a hamstring injury, while his backup, J.C. Agen, will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle that will require surgery. Another linebacker, Cody McCarthy, is questionable after missing the Sacramento State game with a knee injury.