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EWU chat from Nov. 2, the full replay

Eastern Washington coach Aaron Best tries a new way to address the Eagles’ turnover problems. (Jim  Allen / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington coach Aaron Best tries a new way to address the Eagles’ turnover problems. (Jim Allen / The Spokesman-Review)

Jim: Hello, everyone, let’s talk Eastern football!

PSW (Guest): Long bye week I guess.Late-arriving crowd. Big game this week.

Jim: It is that! The biggest game of the year, no doubt.

scottywashere11: Weber State is scary looking. Their defense sounds a lot like Southern Utah.

Jim: Yes, offensively and defensively, they’re a lot a like.Unbelievable red-zone stats for Weber’s defense. I can’t get over one stat. In Big Sky games, opponents have made 15 trips into the red zone and came away with just four TDs (plus four FGs).

PSW (Guest): Defensive secondary strength is a bit concerning for sure

Jim: Warmup question: How did you spend your bye week? I painted my house and raked pine needles (kinda relaxing, actually)

Jim: And watched football, of course!

KHB_GoEags: HA HA HA HA I had the Bye Week Blues, so I kept busy with house projects I’ve neglected since beginning of September.

Jim: Yeah, KHB, I wondered how you stayed sane without Eagle football.

KHB_GoEags: Ha ha ha, I know, it’s pathetic!

scottywashere11: Oh, and my wife and I threw a super successful Halloween party at our house in the Olympia area. Made all of our EWU alum / Spokane friends travel across the state for it!

Jim: Good for you! So are you making it to the game this week?

scottywashere11: I have military drill this weekend I’ll be at the PSU game though!

Jim: I’ll say it again, this is the defining game of the season for Eastern. Apart from NAU, Weber has been the most consistent team in the league.

scottywashere11: Yeah… Their killer DBs mixed in against our #1 strength (passing) makes this game tough.

Jim: Great DBs, solid front seven, and Eastern is coming off a tough offensive game at Southern Utah (just one TD drive after the first quarter).

PSW (Guest): The stat that concerns me most is turnover margin. We’re near the bottom of the FCS. The teams that are around EWU have records that reflect their turnovers. We have to be better this week.

PSW (Guest): Turnovers in the past derailed Montana last weekend. Southern Utah was able to keep Weber out of the end zone. Excited about this game!

Jim: For the season, Weber is plus-11 and Eastern minus-11.Hope you caught my story on that this week, with Best dressing up as a SWAT member (“Specialized Workforce Addressing Turnovers”)

scottywashere11: That was a fantastic costume haha. We needed a SWAT agent to come down on turnovers.

PSW (Guest): I thought the costume was quite appropriate.

Jim: I thought it was a humorous way to keep players’ minds on the subject. Speaking of which …

Jim: … when people talk about turnovers, it’s usually bemoaning the balls LOST. Actually, a bigger problem on this Eastern team is that the defense has forced only 10 in eight games. That’s far too low.

PSW (Guest): It’s a little bit of both. Bad picks and not making the plays when in position.

Jim: Another depressing stat: The Eagles’ last three opponents – UC Davis, Montana State and Southern Utah – were a combined 31-for-56 (or 55.3 percent) on third and fourth down.

KHB_GoEags: How has the environment been for the team?

Jim: Pretty good, KHB. The coaches do a great job of keeping everyone level-headed.

KHB_GoEags: Have you noticed a higher confidence, especially going into this week? You’d think getting 3 days off for these guys can only be a good thing. They’ve had quite the long, grueling stretch.

Jim: Gotta harp on this turnover-forcing topic a little bit. For the season, opponents have thrown the ball 277 times and been picked only four times. Eastern has thrown it 352 and gotten picked 13 times.

Jim: On the ground,opponents have fumbled 13 times but lost only six. Eastern has fumbled 12 times and lost eight. This is about hustle, in my opinion.

scottywashere11: Man, when you bring up the total number of throws vs. interceptions… That really puts it into perspective.

Jim: Eastern has had quite a few near-picks, but those don’t count.

scottywashere11: Baffling statistic…We need to start picking up on those interceptions.

scottywashere11: Not to speak too soon, but I am glad we didn’t have any conduct issues during our bye-week like “some” other BSC teams have had… EKGs

PSW (Guest): Good point. Seems like a great time for a bye. Tough grind all the way back to the Tech game. The bottom of the Big Sky appears to have gotten a lot better.

Jim: That’s right, PSW, there’s much more parity, apart from winless Cal Poly (picked for THIRD, can you believe it!) and PSU.

PSW (Guest): Was thinking that too Scotty! Good stats on the turnovers Jim:. I felt face value-wise we had a lot of opportunities to complete picks, or get on the ball on the ground and haven’t made the plays.

Jim: Also, UND losing half its defense to injury - who could have foreseen that!

Jim: For the record, preseason “experts” had NAU fourth, Weber fifth and SUU seventh.

Jim: Next question: Does Eastern win all three of its remaining regular-season games?

KHB_GoEags: Yes, I really think so.

scottywashere11: EWU historically does well in November… Although we do have some early winter weather this weekend. I can’t believe they cancelled the Homecoming parade, Swoop Zone, etc.

Jim: What a bunch of weenies (of course I’ll be in the press box all afternoon!)

scottywashere11: Ha ha, I really need to invest in some tailgating heaters.

Jim: Yes, apart from 2015, EWU does very well in November.

scottywashere11: I think Weber State is a shootout game, or at least I hope. I think we win against PSU and UND.

Jim: Strange offense Weber has. Ball-control, very low total yards (last in the conference), but they move the chains are deadly in the red zone (18-for-20 vs. Big Sky teams).

PSW (Guest): That’s why this one feels so big. Get through this one, and I think we handle the last two teams. 8-3 should be a playoff bid. Seed? Not sure there.

scottywashere11: 2015… A year I would like to forget. That was my first game at Wa-Griz in Missoula. Not pretty… Fun atmosphere though.

KHB_GoEags: Oh, so you were the reason for the blowout in Missoula in 2015, Scotty?

PSW (Guest): Mine too Scotty. Had a great weekend except for the score.

PSW (Guest): Probably my fault. Thats why I didn’t go this year.

Jim: That’s funny, I have EWU friends who didn’t go to Missoula because of PTSD from the 2015 game - ha!

Jim: I think Eastern wins out, but you make a good point, PSW. Tonight, the FCS will announce its top 10 teams.

KHB_GoEags: They missed one of the best games!

Jim: Back to PSW’s point on seeding … even at 8-3, the Eagles may need some help around the country to get a seed (and avoid a having to play in the first round)

KHB_GoEags: I don’t think we will get the seed. I would love it; but I don’t think so. Even winning out, and going 8-3. Too many “what if’s”

scottywashere11: Yeah, I really wish I would have been there this year haha.

scottywashere11: I do not think we get the seed either, unfortunately.

scottywashere11: I do not see any BSC teams being seeded this year.

Jim: NAU, if they run the table. That would make them 9-2 overall with nine straight wins.

KHB_GoEags: SUU or NAU **could get the seed. But… again, so amny “what ifs” still left. Big Sky doesn’t get a lot of love, either. Outside of EWU.

Jim: Weber also has a shot at 9-2 (but we all know that won’t happen, right?)

PSW (Guest): A lot of football to be played around the country still. I think if NAU runs out they get a seed. SUU has a chance too.

Jim: Yes, they do. But not both, as they play each other in the final game.

PSW (Guest): 7-4 get us in?

Jim: Absolutely Eastern gets in with 7-4 and a very tough schedule,(TT and NDSU). And they still might host a first-round game. But then they would have to go on the road and face an elite team.

Jim: Tough subject. But yes, if you want Eastern to have a shot at a Big Sky title (and that’s the No. 1 goal every year), you must root for Montana - sorry!

scottywashere11: Ugh, I hate rooting for the Griz but I do hope that they beat NAU.

PSW (Guest): I don’t see that Montana team hanging with NAU, but I will vote for the best interest of the Eags.

Jim: Only four people online - what the heck?! Tell your friends.

PSW (Guest): Bye week lag I guess.

scottywashere11: I just set a reminder on my cell phone, lol.

Jim: Beam me up to the chat, Scotty!

Jim: Here’s another subplot: what if Montana loses to NAU, then wins out to go 7-4. Do they get in?

scottywashere11: Hope not. Hope they miss the playoffs again… but they probably do because it’s Montana.

KHB_GoEags: No way Montana gets in.

Jim: Not at 7-4, they better not. The essentially bought themselves a 2-1 nonconf record (Valpo and Savannah St. at home) to beef up their overall record.

PSW (Guest): Rotten out of conference, One good win all season. I think they get left out, but it depends on a lot of other variables.

Jim: If EWU and Montana both end up 7-4, there’s no way the Griz get in at Eastern’s expense.

scottywashere11: We would riot.

Jim: And you should!

scottywashere11: Just my wife and I,burning a couch in the middle of the street in Olympia… a two person riot.

Jim: No, burn it at the 50-yard line at Wa-Griz!

Jim: Back to Weber. What does Eastern need to do to win this game? Let’s start with offense…

scottywashere11: I’ve heard that this game falls heavily on Gage’s shoulders.

Jim: The passing game took a big stop back at SUU, but looking back, the T-Birds were so solid on defense. Great tackling in space, not much of a window for Gage to throw into.

Jim: That will be the challenge again this week, I think.

PSW (Guest): No turnovers, running game that keeps the defense a little honest, One big special teams play,and an inspired defensive performance.

Jim: Yes to all the above. I think Eastern can run on this team. That sounds silly since Weber is tough against the run (129ypg vs. Big Sky teams). but I have this hunch.

scottywashere11: Special teams delivered a killer field goal return touchdown at SUU… Let’s do that again. We need those explosive plays to beat a team like this.

Jim: EWU could use that, but Weber is second in KR return yardage behind the Eagles.

PSW (Guest): First two drives and second half TD drive. Eags looked like they could score any time they wanted. A lot of turnovers and lost chances in between and after.

Jim: They looked disconnected in the passing game, for sure.

scottywashere11: My anxiety is already beginning to grow.

PSW (Guest): 4th and two, with the lead and the tight end running all by himself still haunts as well.

Jim: And defensively? Make a third-down stop.

Jim: Ten minutes left - let’s hear some predictions. I have it EWU 31, Weber 27.

PSW (Guest): Why is it only Thursday still?? I have a feeling this one is going to go down to the last second. An d you’re right Jim:. Please get some stops on third!

scottywashere11: EWU 35 WSU 27

KHB_GoEags: EWU 31, Weber 28…wayyy to close for my own good.

scottywashere11: Go EAGS!!!

Jim: of course

PSW (Guest): Oh, I liked 31-21 Eags.

PSW (Guest): Thanks for the chat and all of the great Eags coverage!

Jim: Thanks!

Jim: Back to work for me. No football feature tomorrow.Instead I will be focusing on EWU ‘futbol’ and one the biggest success stories you’ll ever read about.

Jim: Also, our special basketball section came out today. Wake up and read it!

Jim: Thanks, everyone, for participating. See you next week!


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