EWU at WSU
Time: Noon, Saturday
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Records: WSU (0-1, 0-0 in Pac-12); EWU (1-0, 0-0 in Big Sky)
Last week: WSU lost at BYU, 30-6; EWU defeated Idaho, 20-3
Last time: WSU defeated EWU in Pullman, 73-0, in 1908
The line: N/A
What it means for WSU: It’s a chance for the Cougars to further erase the memory of Thursday’s bad loss at BYU. WSU struggled to move the ball in that game and took until the second half to settle into a rhythm defensively. Coach Mike Leach has stressed the need for consistent effort and a more confident attitude from his players. The Cougars are still adjusting to new offensive and defensive schemes. They should move the ball a little better this week, but could have trouble defending the pass as Eastern has a talented, experienced quarterback in Kyle Padron, as well as a group of tall, fast receivers.
“They’re passing the ball almost 50 times, so it’s definitely exciting, but at the same time you’ve got a bunch of threats as far as receivers go,” WSU safety Deone Bucannon said. “So you can’t turn your head and write it up as an easy game. You’ve got to go in there with the drive you’d (take) into any other game.”
What it means for EWU: Another chance to knock off an FBS team. EWU had no problem doing that last week, hammering Idaho, 20-3, in Moscow. Padron completed just 13 of 33 passes (but for 260 yards), an indication that perhaps he’s still developing a rhythm with his receivers in his first year in the program. But the Eagles played superb defense and rushed for 152 yards. The Eagles are expected to contend for the Big Sky championship, and can further establish their reputation as a conference favorite by knocking off a Pac-12 team.
Key matchup: EWU receiver Nicholas Edwards vs. WSU secondary.
Edwards is exactly the kind of receiver who could give WSU’s cornerbacks fits. He’s big – 6-foot-3, 200 pounds – and caught 95 passes for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns last season while playing in an offense that threw for more than 4,000 yards. Edwards is complemented by Greg Herd, another 6-3, 200-pound receiver, who caught 67 passes for 1,022 yards last season. Both could be a handful for a WSU secondary that suffered a few bumps and bruises against BYU – starting corner Damante Horton was seen wearing a soft wrap on his left arm on Sunday and didn’t participate in practice.