This sounds familiar.
On Saturday, the Eastern Washington football team goes on the road, facing a nasty crowd and an up-tempo offense run by dual-threat, transfer quarterback.
More ominously for the Eagles, Northern Iowa’s Aaron Bailey is two inches and 25 pounds bigger than Vernon Adams Jr., and comes off playing two seasons and 14 games for Illinois of the Big 10. He even played last year against eventual national champion Ohio State, passing for 79 yards and running for 39 more.
“He sure can run it,” EWU safety Todd Raynes said Tuesday.
So what’s the catch? Bailey, a four-star high school recruit, doesn’t throw the ball nearly as well as Adams, the former EWU star who now plays for Oregon. Last week, in a 31-7 loss at Iowa State, the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Bailey completed 11 of 19 passes, but for only 114 yards.
UNI took an early 7-0 lead, but the Cyclones began to shut down the Panther offense, prompting coach Mark Farley to try backups Sawyer Kollmorgen and Eli Dunne in the fourth quarter.
When the dust had settled, no one had done enough to secure the starting spot for this week’s game against the Eagles. Bailey, a former four-star high school recruit, is expected to start, but expect a change if he struggles.
“All the cards are still on the table for probably another two weeks. I’ll stay open all the way through that open date (on Sept. 26),” Farley said this week. “After we get through the open date we’ll lock down and get ready for the league.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles must prepare for a punishing ground game – a week after giving up 485 rushing yards at Oregon and 731 overall.
“He and his running backs are very downhill runners who like to pound you,” Raynes said of Bailey and junior running back Tyvis Smith, a 224-pound redshirt junior who gained 37 yards on seven carries at Iowa State.
“It will be interesting to see what they will do, but it will be a challenge defensively for us,” EWU coach Beau Baldwin said.
Kupp, by the numbers
After catching three touchdown passes at Oregon, Eastern wide receiver Cooper Kupp has 40 in his career, ranking 12th in FCS history and second all-time in school and Big Sky Conference history behind the records of 46 held by Eric Kimble (2002-05).
“I’d be shocked if you could show me a better receiver at any level in the country,” Baldwin said. “Usually I don’t talk like that, but that’s how I feel right now and think that we have here at Eastern.”
Kupp is just one touchdown catch from tying Northern Iowa’s Dedric Ward (1993-96) with 41, and three behind the 43 of Southern Utah’s Tysson Poots (2007-10). The FCS record is 58 set by New Hampshire’s David Ball (2003-06).
Kupp now has 212 career catches, and is one from moving into fifth in school history (Tony Davis, 213, 2006-09).
A big weekend for the Big Sky
From Portland State’s stunning win at Washington State to North Dakota’s first win over an FBS opponent, the Big Sky Conference had a lot to celebrate last weekend.
“What a great deal for these guys. They have been working at this since last November,” said PSU interim coach Bruce Barnum after the Vikings’ shocking 24-17 win in Pullman.
The Vikings bused six hours, because there is no wiggle room in the PSU budget. Not that anyone cared after the WSU game.
“Nobody will ever buy that day,” Barnum said earlier this week. “Not a soul.”
Just as shocking was UND’s 24-13 win at Wyoming, a game that saw the visitors hold a 276-41 margin in rushing yards.
That wasn’t all: Southern Utah led most of the game at Utah State, but fell 12-9 on a late punt return; and Weber State gave Oregon State a tough game before falling 26-7.
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