All 30-year-old Bodie Reeder had to do was follow the virtuoso act of one of college football’s rising offensive minds.
That situation, coupled with just a summer of prep, would rattle the headset of most young coaches.
He did all right, though.
Reeder, an offensive coordinator who was given the keys to Eastern Washington’s offense after head coach Beau Baldwin took the OC job at California, called the shots for a group that finished fifth in the country last season in total yards (5,244).
The numbers were Baldwin-esque, but that wasn’t enough for the former Eastern Illinois quarterback.
“For him to come in and do that in his first year was impressive,” EWU head coach Aaron Best said. “His offense was in the top 5, but he wants to do better. He wants to be No. 1.”
With nine returning starters from the offense that ranked in the nation’s top 15 of several categories, including one of the FCS level’s finest quarterbacks in Gage Gubrud, those numbers could be even gaudier this fall.
Reeder initially came to EWU as a quarterbacks coach last year, but was thrust into the OC role after Fred Salanoa stepped down from the position last summer after just months on the job.
Reeder had previous stints as an OC at NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Stout, and spent three years as an assistant at throw-it-all-over-the-place Oklahoma State, where he was a sponge under head coach Mike Gundy and coordinator Mike Yurcich.
He was groomed for the occasion.
“This place had a tradition long before I got here, and I wasn’t about to screw it up,” Reeder said. “I didn’t change the verbiage and I’ve been able to put my spin on it.
“Eastern Washington, are you kidding me? This is a dream come true being here.”
His transition came with growing pains.
The Eagles’ offense was stymied in a 56-10 loss at Texas Tech to open the season, and was shut down by FCS juggernaut North Dakota State in a 40-13 rout in Cheney the following week –the worst two-game offensive stretch in years.
The offense cooked in the next four games, though, averaging 45 points in wins over Fordham, Montana, Sacramento State and UC Davis.
“Being an offensive coordinator is like playing a video game,” Reeder said. “You can do whatever you want out there. It’s fun.”
He had a similiar approach as a collegiate QB 10 years ago.
Reeder tallied nearly 4,000 career passing yards at EIU, the alma mater of former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, current 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, another former QB.
Bald-headed now, Reeder’s once-long locks stuck out of his helmet in college.
Now, he brings a youthful energy to his position. Best, who is still a young man himself at 39, said Reeder is beyond his years on the field.
“And he is only going to get better,” Best said.
Reeder deflected all credit to his players.
“My players help me more than I’ve helped them, I know that,” he said “They’re all wonderful young men and they play hard. They’re picking up everything that I am throwing at them.”
EWU totaled 3,525 passing yards in 2017, as Gubrud connected with 15 receivers. On the ground, the Eagles had 1,719 yards, many from returning star running back Antoine Custer (820 yards, 10 TDs).
Reeder isn’t going to deviate from that attack, but wants to clean up the 23 turnovers his group coughed up last year.
“We’re going to go fast, be unpredictable, and have good run and pass plays, hopefully. Allow our players to touch the ball,” he said. “With a veteran offensive line we’ll be able to lean on them.”