Eastern Washington had a clear idea of what it wanted to accomplish during Saturday morning’s scrimmage at Roos Field: Put the players in some tough situations and see how they handled them.
However, the Eagles didn’t reckon with the wind. Gusting to 30 miles per hour, it made an adventure out of every forward pass and field-goal attempt.
Having endured driving rains in their first scrimmage eight days earlier, the Eagles had hoped for better conditions Saturday.
No such luck.
“We got sun, but we didn’t ask for wind,” said head coach Aaron Best after a 92-play scrimmage witnessed by about 200 fans.
The results were predictable: four quarterbacks combined for 18 completions in 35 attempts for 233 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
“Obviously, wind is a quarterback’s nightmare. But we did have better conditions and it was nice seeing a few more people out here watching the scrimmage,” Best said.
“Again, when you have elements working against you, on both sides of the ball, you will have some wins and some losses,” said Best, who will wrap up spring practice with the Red-White Game on Saturday.
Most of the wins on Saturday were racked up by the defense, which had nine quick-whistle sacks, including two each by linebacker Kurt Calhoun and defensive lineman Darnell Hogan.
“Once the offense gets going, it’s hard to stop them,” said safety Dehonta Hayes, who had a team-high 10 tackles and broke up two passes. “Last year we didn’t really do what we needed to do, and this year we’re ready to bounce back.”
Now it’s the offense’s turn to rebound. The Eagles managed 367 total yards, but only three scores.
“We weren’t real crisp,” Best said.
“The second-team offense needs to stay on the field and be more consistent in those situations where you get those opportunities.”
Three of those opportunities ended in missed field goals, all attempted against a fierce crosswind.
Senior quarterback Gage Gubrud led the offense to a pair of long scoring drives, but those were the only scores in 11 possessions that didn’t start on the defensive end of the field.
Gubrud completed 9 of 16 passes for 99 yards and rushed for another 20 yards, including a 34-yard rush that set up a touchdown.
At least one player managed to soar over the wind-driven chaos: wide receiver Zach Eagle, who had five catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
It came midway through the scrimmage on a 15-yard pass Eric Barriere lofted to the left edge of the end zone. Though well-covered, Eagle stretched while keeping one foot inbounds.
“I knew I was close to the sideline, so I just tried to keep one foot down and make the catch,” Eagle said.
The Eagles have three more practices this week before the spring game.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.