To a man, the Eastern Washington players and coaches agreed on one thing after Saturday’s Red-White Game: Time is on their side.
From some promising youngsters on offense to a “next man up” attitude on defense, the Eagles played and acted like a group that doesn’t want spring football to end.
It won’t until next week, when Eastern will hold two more practices. And after that? A team paintball event that looks so enticing they may want to keep stats.
“We’re ready to kick some tail,” said defensive tackle Dylan Zylstra, who was speaking of the Aug. 23 opener against Sam Houston State, as well as the paintball game.
Saturday’s stats reflected a tale of two halves. In 56 first-half plays, the offense rolled up 333 yards and wrote its own chapter of “The Bourne Identity” in front of about 300 fans at Roos Field.
If fans didn’t know him before, sophomore receiver Kendrick Bourne made them notice with five first-half catches for 56 yards and a score.
“I had a fun day,” said Bourne, who played last fall as a true freshman but admitted that he sometimes “got lost” in the Eagles’ fast-paced offense.
“Now I can go out there and show what I got,” Bourne said.
The promise of youth also shone on backup quarterback Jordan West, who was 6 for 9 for 84 yards and two scores.
“This spring I felt a lot more comfortable,” said West, a redshirt sophomore who strengthened his hold on the backup spot behind All-American Vernon Adams.
“Instead of just learning the offense, I’ve been able to check protections and make pre-snap adjustments,” West said.
In the second half, the defense took over, holding the offense to 110 yards and one TD in 30 plays. Sophomore safety Zach Bruce from University High School had 11 tackles, and sophomore linebacker Albert Havili had nine tackles with a half-sack.
Miquiyah Zamora, a sophomore from Pasco, had six tackles, 1½ sacks and a forced fumble.
The lone second-half score was an eye-opener: Adams’ 40-yard pass to running back Cody Hecker down the left sideline.
“Well, I wasn’t going to run on fourth-and-20,” joked Adams, an All-American last year who was 15 for 26 for 149 yards and three scores.
Otherwise, the Eagles ran the ball plenty while honing their short-yardage game in a fourth-and-1 drill. Jabari Wilson gained 81 yards on six carries, while Mario Brown gained 50 yards on 11. The first two scoring drives were capped by passes to tight ends Zach Wimberly and Terry Jackson.
Receiver Shaquille Hill added 27 yards on a pair of reverses.
“I think we came out and executed that fourth-and-1 drill better than we ever have,” said coach Beau Baldwin, whose offense scored on six of its first seven possessions and converted its first 11 fourth-and-1 plays.
“I thought we were moving the ball very well and then I would say we hit a few lulls, but at times the defense was making some plays,” Baldwin said. “I think in the secondary you saw some guys making plays that maybe wasn’t an awful throw or play.”
And while Baldwin lamented some “choppiness” on Saturday, he welcomed the chance to review film for some teachable moments in next week’s two practices – and in the 30 practices that loom in July and August.
In other words, there’s plenty of time to make things right.