Something was missing last fall for football player Cooper Kupp: football.
With a scoreboard. Against an opponent who is not wearing the same uniform.
“I was thinking back the other day that my last competitive football game was two Novembers ago,” said Kupp, an Eastern Washington wide receiver from Yakima who, because of his redshirt status, did everything but play.
“At the playoff games, I sat with my parents up in the stands. You can feel it from the sidelines. You know the guys and you want to be a part of it.”
And now he will. For this year’s redshirts, Saturday’s Red-White Spring Game is the end of the beginning.
“You can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said running back Jabari Wilson, of Carson, Calif. “I’m excited to see how many reps I can get Saturday.”
While the Red-White is essentially a glorified scrimmage, it’s the next-best thing until Oregon State on Aug. 31 and the last, best chance to leave an impression until fall camp.
Linebacker Cedric Gonzalez appreciates the learning experience from last year’s veterans.
“It gives me something to look at and be like,” said the freshman from Tucson, Ariz. “When you get here, you’re just trying as hard as you can. Now it’s your time.”
For the coaches, the spring game is a chance to “get as much done as in any other scrimmage,” EWU coach Beau Baldwin said.
“It’s going to be less of a true Red-White game, but on the positive side you’ll get to see more of the starting units,” Baldwin said.
That means the first-team offense will face the first-team defense, and the second units also will square off.
Baldwin hedged, joking about EWU defensive line coach Ryan Sawyer’s tendency to “play about 27 different D-linemen.”
Baldwin expects to run between 60 and 80 offensive plays.
“We will set the ball in different spots on the field, which to me is game-like,” Baldwin said. “In a game, there are sudden changes when the defense might have a short field or the offense might have a long field. We will find different spots on the field so we can approach different situations. From that point, it is game on.”
Each quarter on Saturday will consist of approximately 20 plays, with no time clock kept. Essentially, the competition is to see how many times the offense can score, and how many times the defense can stop the offense.
The Eagles will practice three more times – Tuesday at 4 p.m., Wednesday at 4:30 and Thursday at 4 – before heading into the offseason.