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Getting lost in another loss

A GRIP ON SPORTS

When is a loss a win? Well, never. By definition, a loss is the absence of a win. But some losses are better than others. Read on.

EWU receivers gaining stature

This is the third in an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football: the wide receivers.

Junior Adams is ready to branch out.

The Eastern Washington University wide receivers coach doesn’t have a lot of tall players this spring, but he does have guys “who can run the whole route tree.”

That includes the curls and comeback routes that may make the Eastern passing game more diversified than in the past. Departed wideouts Brandon Kaufman, Nick Edwards and Greg Herd could do it all, but excelled at the home-run ball.

“We’re hoping to add another dimension,” senior Daniel Johnson said

EWU offense is well-grounded

This is the first in a series of eight stories on Eastern Washington University spring football. Today: the running backs.

Kiel McDonald knows the drill. Lots of them.

During practice at Roos Field, the Eastern Washington running backs coach moves almost as fast as his players, setting up cones, obstacles and blocking dummies in rapid succession.

“It’s the nuts and bolts of what we do,” said McDonald, who’s usually one of the first coaches on the practice field. McDonald joined Beau Baldwin’s staff last spring and is still the Eagles’ most recent hire.

Not coincidentally, the Eagles’ running game took some big strides last season, almost doubling its rushing yardage from 2011 (from 869 yards to 1,729) while improving its yards-per-rush from 3.0 to 3.7.

EWU football links

Game Day,Cheney, a chance for the Eagles to return to the national spotlight with a win today over Sam Houston State, a chance for a title game against North Dakota State that would match the last two national champions. Here's our pre-game package, including story and the keys to victory for both teams. Vince Grippi also weighed in on the Eagles with this blog. From last night, here is the story from North Dakota State's exciting win over Georgia Southern. From the Huntsville Item (Sam Houston State's hometown newspaper), here's a story from the Bearkat perspective.

EWU playoff links

It's a big week in Cheney, and our hopefully our coverage will live up to the moment. Three stories today, including John Blanchette's column on football attendance, my report from practice and a look at the Sam Houston State triple/double-option/pistol. Whatever it is, you get the idea: It's tough to defend, and now it's Eastern's problem. From Sam Houston, here is the official release from the school, which is packed with everything you want to know about the Bearkats.

EWU and Big Sky links

'Tis the season … for two seasons of sports at the same time at Eastern Washington University. On Monday night, the Eagle men's basketball team fell to visiting Seattle University. Meanwhile, the football team is preparing for the FCS semifinals. So are their opponents, the red-hot Sam Houston State Bearkats; here's a first look at the team from Texas, plus more All-American honors for four Eastern players. We also have the official release from Eastern, plus the Big Sky Conference's preview of the semifinals.

EWU and Big Sky links

It' FCS semifinal week in Cheney, where the Eagles are riding momentum from a 51-35 win over Illinois State last weekend. Two more stories: John Blanchette's column on EWU quarterback Kyle Padron, and the official EWU release from the game. This week it's Sam Houston State, which shrugged off the cold in Bozeman and routed Montana State.

EWU and Big Sky links

As I'm writing this the snow is falling on the South Hill in Spokane. Thoughts turn to trimming the tree and who the heck can handle the snow in tomorrow's FCS playoff game between Eastern Washington and Illinois State. Eagle wide receiver Nick Edwards can handle anything, as this story shows. So can Jeff Minnerly, who can handle a double-major while getting a 3.78 GPA and playing high-caliber college football. In basketball, the Idaho Vandals can surely handle adversity, rallying from a 17-point deficit to beat Eastern Washington in overtime. Me? I can handle a few questions, as long as they're easy. Here's the transcript from our Live Chat on Eastern football.

EWU and Big Sky links

It's Thursday, which means another Live Chat at noon today on Eastern Washington football - quarterfinal edition. Until then, here's my weekly notebook and a look ahead to tonight's men's basketball game with Idaho. Back to football, Illinois State just came out with its official release for this week. Out of Billings, a feature on  Montana State All-American linebacker Jody Owens

EWU and Big Sky links

It's a big football weekend in Cheney, not least of all for Luke Huard,the younger brother of Damon and Brock and also the offensive coordinator for Illinois State. The host Eagles earned another award on Tuesday, and later practiced at Roos Field as finals week looms. Here's the latest release from Illinois State. It's also finals week at Montana State as the Bobcats prepare for Sam Houston State.

EWU and Big Sky links

The honors are pouring in for Eastern Washington players, especially wide receiver Brandon Kaufman; Here's our story. There's more to come, including today's Coach of the Year announcement from the Big Sky. Will Beau Baldwin win the award, or will it go to Tim Walsh of newcomer Cal Poly Co-Big Sky champ Montana State won both MVP awards yesterday. … Mick Delaney will return to coach the Grizzlies, Montana's athletic director said yesterday. The third co-champ, Cal Poly, put two players on the first team.

EWU and Big Sky links

In addition to the big prize - a No.2 seed in the FCS playoffs- Eastern is collection some individual recognition. Here's my story. From Dave Cook at Eastern, more details on awards. Today, the Big Sky Conference will hand out its biggest hardware, including MVPs and all-conference selections. We'll keep you posted. Eastern is sharing the Big Sky title with No. 3 seed Montana State, whose coaches worked hard to solve the Montana running game. Big Sky newcomer Cal Poly also gets a first-round playoff bye, although the Mustangs will faces perennial power Sam Houston State in the Sweet 16.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Eagles are ready to fly south, if only to Portland for the final game of the regular season. Tuesday night's practice was intense; here's my report, plus a feature on senior linebacker Tyler Washburn. There's a big game in Missoula this week, with plenty at stake for Montana State running back Kody Kirk and the second-ranked Bobcats. Montana quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann has been a part of the Cat-Griz rivalry for a long time; now he'll be in the middle of it.

EWU and Big Sky links

It's Senior Day at Eastern Washington, which hopes this won't be the last home game this year. A win today vs. UC Davis and next week at Portland State will do the trick. A Big Sky title is also possible, but the Eagles need some help as Northern Arizona is still perfect in the conference. Here's a feature on the Lumberjacks' kicker, Andy Wilder. …Also in the chase is Montana State, which hosts Portland State today … So is Cal Poly, which is coming off a loss at Eastern last week and figures to take it out on Idaho State. Meanwhile, ISU coach Mike Kramer will not face criminal charges from an incident last month in which he shoved a player. The goals are more modest at Montana, which visits Weber State today.

EWU and Big Sky links

The best EWU-related story of the day: John Blanchette's profile of fomer Eag and current CFL star J.C. Sherritt. We had a live Live Chat yesterday, and here is the transcript.  The Eags play UC Davis tomorrow, and here are the details from EWU and from UC Davis. We also have a story from the local newspaper in Davis, Calif. At Montana, the Grizzlies are feeling better about their offensive line, while Montana State ponders its chances of a high seed in the FCS playoffs.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Election is over, but pollsters are still busy, and the Eastern Washington football coaches and players are paying attention. I also have a feature on Eagle kicker Jimmy Pavel, and don't forget our Live Chat tomorrow. The Eagles face UC Davis on Saturday: here's the link to the Aggies' site. The Eastern site is chock-full of info about, well, everything related to EW football. Out of Billings, a feature on how Rob Ash has built the Montana State program into a winner, and from the Missoulian, a Grizzly notebook.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Election season is almost over: final FCS ballots will be cast in just 12 days.

I'll be at Eastern practice this afternoon; until then, here are a few links from around the Big Sky Conference - starting with the official release from Dave Cook at EWU and the Big Sky Conference. Also, EWU quarterback Vernon Adams won a big honor this week.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Eagles got back to work Tuesday, and here's my story. Here's the official release from Dave Cook at Eastern, packed with info on EWU and Cal Poly. …From the San Luis Obispo newspaper, here's a notebook … Out of Missoula, a Montana player faces drug charges, and UM has suspended three other players for undisclosed rules violations. Montana State, now ranked third in the FCS, looks forward to another high-scoring game against Sacramento State.

EWU and Big Sky links

I'm late posting by blog, because 'connectivity,' as they call it in Verizon-land, isn't too great here in Cedar City. But the weather's great for today's Eastern Washington game against Southern Utah. Here's my preview, and a preview of the game from Dave Cook at EWU. From the local newspaper, a feature on SUU linebacker Mike Needham. From Missoula, a preview of the Grizzlies' game against Idaho State. Montana State hosts North Dakota in Bozeman.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Eagles are concerned, rightly, about stopping Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen, who is the focus of today's Big Sky notebook, which is loaded with information. So is this week's release from Dave Cook at Eastern Washington; it has more informnation about this week's game than I could even provide. …From Pocatello, a blog on the Mike Kramer situation, and out of Billings, a look at the challenge facing Montana State's defense against the rejuvenated offense of North Dakota.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Eagles began their second week atop the FCS poll by preparing for Saturday's game at Southern Utah. …There's a lot of respect for SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen, whose Thunderbirds almost upset the Eagles two years ago in Cheney. More on Mr. Sorensen tomorrow, I promise…. In the meantime, I'm not finding a lot of coverage of the Thunderbirds, but here's a story from their loss to Weber State and a wealth of info from the team athletic site.

ISU coach Kramer suspended

Idaho State football coach Mike Kramer has been suspended for Saturday's game against Montana. Here are the details.

EWU and Big Sky links

They take it Montana State football pretty seriously here in Bozeman, where the EWU-MSU game preview is the top story of the day. Here's a link to the PDF of the entire Bozeman Chronicle Game Day pullout section. I can't compete with that, but here's my game preview. … And from the Billings Gazette, a feature on - surprise! - MSU quarterback DeNarius McGhee. … Up the road in Missoula, the Grizzlies take on Southern Utah; here's a preview from the Missoulian.

EWU and Big Sky football links

It doesn't get any bigger than this in the regular season: sixth-ranked Eastern at No. 2 Montana State. But to win the big ones, you have to sweat the small stuff, the Eastern players and coaches said Tuesday. …We'll see what MSU coach Ash says this morning in the coaches' conference call later this morning. Look for that story tomorrow, and don't forget about or live chat Thursday noon. The other side is taking this one seriously too. … A big problem for the Bobcats: turnovers, as this story in the Billings Gazette shows. …Montana's goals are more modest: win two straight games.