Jim: Let's talk Eastern sports!
FarmerTed (guest): As much as I appreciate West's numbers, would love to see Hennessey out there on Saturday. Just think he makes our offense more dynamic with his feet. What do you think?
Jim: Hello, Ted: I've been thinking the same thing, especially as NAU will bring the heat.
Jim: There's no doubt EWU needs to stir things up; 14 points won't do it on Saturday. The question is, what needs to change? Thoughts?
Guest2103 (guest): So how is the weather up in Spokane? We didn't look too good in the rain and wind last week. I was surprised Weber's OL and DL seemed much more physical than EWU's.
Jim: It's cold and drizzly here in downtown Spokane.The forecast for Cheney on Saturday is upper 40s, light winds with a chance of rain
Guest2103 (guest): I don't see any advantages for EWU as far as matchups with the exception of WR's and punter
Jim: And even at WR, NAU has a game breaker in Emmanuel Butler (13 TDs, 20.6 ypc). This will be the toughest Big Sky game yet.
KHatch_Brecek: Defense played FABULOUS!!!!!! I feel that's who won the game for us!
Jim: Yes they did.
Guest2103 (guest): As much as I want EWU to win I think NA will win this by a big margin.
Jim: I think it's natural to favor NAU in this one: the 'Jacks are playing great while EWU's been on the edge for awhile
KHatch_Brecek: Jim, we had under 200 yards is that right? We can't really blame the weather, can we?
Jim: Yes, 194 yards total offense. After the game, the players were blaming themselves.
KHatch_Brecek: But.... to EWU's benefit, we do always "find a way" to get the job done.
Guest2103 (guest): I live in the Phoenix area so I've had the chance to watch NAU several times and they look really good when they are on but they can look really bad when they are not playing well ( Arizona and Davis)
Jim: NAU is tough to figure out. If your red-and-white glass is half full, you could point to the fact that NAU is a bad road team (1-3 this year) and that their last two wins are against Weber and No. Colorado.
Jim: If that glass is half-empty, you can say that EWU beat those same two teams by a combined three points.
KHatch_Brecek: Jordan has not seemed to be in sync with the other players, or maybe it's the other way around. What do you notice at practice?
Jim: I think the answer is elsewhere, in the stagnant running game. Here's my story on that from Tuesday's practice: http://www.spokesman.com/eagles/stories/2015/nov/03/fourth-ranked-eastern-awaits-emergence-of-running-/
Guest2103 (guest): But they hammered Weber and N.Colorado. I was watching the N Colorado game and they put on the brakes in the 4th quarter
Jim: Those were complete blowouts. NAU QB Case Cookus is the best in the Sky at this moment.
Jim: I'm no expert, but I think EWU is missing Vernon Adams' field-stretching mobility right now. I think back to the Sam Houston playoff game in 2012, when Padron couldn't handle the blitzes. NAU plays the same scheme,which makes me wonder if Hennessey will see action this week. Thoughts?
Guest2103 (guest): The OL needs to get it together. I really feel they have the potential to be the best but it doesn't seem they are physical enough
Jim: I spoke with several O-linemen on Tuesday. They talked about identifying run stacks and better communication on running plays.
Guest2103 (guest): They need to at least give Hennessey a shot or Gabrud who may be the best running option
Jim: To be fair, I think Eastern is missing Forte and Brown in the backfield. In five Big Sky games, EWU's longest run from scrimmage is just 21 yards.
Jim: Think about that: right now there's no breakaway threat in the backfield. That was my biggest concern (on offense) going into the season, and I think that concern is still valid.
KHatch_Brecek: I know our running game is hurting, literally-- injuries are killing us. But, even the WR with Jordan, the routes were off, or throws weren't there. It has seemed there's tension, or something keeping them from figuring things out.
Guest2103 (guest): I think Moore has that potential but there aren't any holes to run through
Jim: Moore is more of a third-down back. He moves the pile, but you rarely see him run outside the hash.
Jim: I like the true freshman Malcolm Williams as a speed back, but he's been injured.
Guest2103 (guest): Why is Wadood a 5th string option at RB? This doesn't make sense considering he was a Pac-12 corner
Jim: Good question: I can't get a straight answer on that other than Baldwin saying they were thin at RB and he played the position in high school.
Jim: On the other hand, I follow players on Twitter, and Wadood's Tweets indicate that something went awry last month. I think he's in the doghouse, but I can’t confirm that.
Guest2103 (guest): It just doesn't seem like we are in sync this year. Even before VA, we were in sync with Nichols and Meyers
Jim: I disagree. Adams' adlib style made everything seem disjointed sometimes, but it definitely worked.
Guest2353 (guest): I don't get these comments about the passing game being out of sync. It certainly wasn't in Greeley, and even in last week's miserable wind West et al completed the majority of their passes.
Jim: It was out of sync last week because of the wind. Also, I think this offense is becoming more about runs up the middle and throwing it deep. They seem more predictable lately.
Guest3162 (guest): QB sets the tone on offense. I have to say last year when West took over for VA there was a definite difference in tone on the offense
Jim: Why do you think the tone is different?
Guest3162 (guest): Might be West isn't as loose as VA or maybe as comfortable running the offense.
Guest2103 (guest): I agree with Guest 3162, the tone seems much slower now. With VA, it was like we were playing fast break offense.
KHatch_Brecek: Maybe a different type of leadership?
Guest2353 (guest): Passing/quarterback play is the least of any problems. Think about this: with a virtually nonexistent running game and until recently a pretty porous defense this team has won six in a row.
Jim: Good point: the last two games were a bit of magic.
Jim: That might not carry the Eagles through the next three games, however.
Jim: This just in.... new uniforms for Saturday:https://twitter.com/EWUFootball/status/662359074105925632/photo/1
Jim: Also just in: EWU soccer loses Big Sky quarterfinal to Sac State, 3-1
Jim: Back to football... EWU is 29-11 under Baldwin in games decided by a TD or less.
KHatch_Brecek: We always have found a way to win "those" kinds of games.
Guest3162 (guest): Won 6 exciting games in a row, but concerned they are very vulnerable to a loss. It would not take much for them to have lost a couple of the games.
Jim: For sure, they could be 4-4 instead of 6-2.
Guest2103 (guest): West has the potential to be the best in the FCS but he needs help with the OL/RB's. A good example was WSU. They led the nation in passing the past few years but didn't get much in the way of wins until this year
Jim: And this is a veteran O-line, with an all-senior starting lineup. I don't get it either, except that I see opposing defenses not too worried about outside contain on the run game. For me that means they don't see it as a threat and can plug up the middle. That's one reason EWU hasn't been very good lately on first-and-10.
Guest3162 (guest): Great point 2103 on the OL.
KHatch_Brecek: What help do you (Guest2103) think Jordan needs from the OL?
Jim: Let's hear it, 2013!
Jim: I mean 2103!
Guest2353 (guest): How has NAU played outdoors in poor weather? I know their game with Weber was in their dome.
Jim: NAU is 4-0 at home and 1-3 on the road; they've always been mediocre on the road and in poor weather.
KHatch_Brecek: Besides, the injuries, this OL is a bunch of Vets, and seniors. One of the best we have ever had.
Jim: They're healthy now.
Guest2103 (guest): So who do you think goes to the playoffs from the Big Sky?
Jim: I'm going with SUU, EWU and Portland State
KHatch_Brecek: I'm with you, Jim.
Jim: Montana and NAU are also in the mix. The Griz are in if they can run the table; NAU needs to win 2/3 against a tough schedule (at EWU, home vs. Sac and at SUU).
Guest2353 (guest): I hope the Sky does get 3 invites, but how certain is that?!
Jim: They will. For most Big Sky teams, 7-4 should get them in because of strength of schedule. IMO, Eastern definitely gets in at 7-4; but they won’t host.
Jim: Don't forget, SUU is at Portland State next week and faces NAU in the finale. Lots of huge games left.
Guest3162 (guest): I think we need to ask this question next week after we see this weekend’s game.
Jim: Ah, but it's so much more fun to guess when there's still three games left.
Jim: Speaking of PSU, they're 7-1, have two wins over FBS teams, and still have one easy game left (UNC). The Vikings are sure to make it.
KHatch_Brecek: Who do you think has the toughest end to a season- conf place wise?
Jim: Sorry, it's Eastern. They could lose all three. I know that nobody wants to think that, but it's possible.
Guest3162 (guest): Eastern has a tough remaining schedule with NAU, Montana and PSU
Jim: We're on the same page, 3162!
Jim: Bottom line is that five teams are still in the hunt. PSU (7-1) and SUU (6-2) have the easiest paths.
Jim: Ten minutes left before I return to my feature story for tomorrow on a small-town Eastern kid who grew up to be an All-American. Guesses?
Guest3162 (guest): Look at Weber State--3 points difference between 2 losses vs 2 wins over the last 2 games.
Jim: it's a game of inches, I've heard!
Guest3162 (guest): first guess would be Kupp, but that seems too easy
Jim: Yes, that would be too easy!
KHatch_Brecek: Keenan Williams?
Jim: He might be an All-American one day, but not yet!
Guest2353 (guest): Plus I suspect Yakima would be insulted to be cal,
Guest2103 (guest): Neary?
Jim: Bingo! Aaron Neary has a great story to tell -wake up and read it in Friday's Spokesman-Review (I couldn’t resist that plug!)
Guest3162 (guest): Bourne?, but I thought he was from Portland
Jim: In fact, Bourne and I are from the same Portland suburb of Milwaukie. I'm slightly older.
KHatch_Brecek: Neary technically came from a small town, but did end up graduating from Hanford.
Jim: Yes, from the town of Mattawa, which is south of Vantage.
Guest3162 (guest): Jim, is your hair red?
Jim: Gosh no, black with increasing grayness
KHatch_Brecek: Yep, I'm from there, Jim!
Jim: From where?
Jim: Cool - I've never been. Looking at the map, WSU students must drive through there going between Pullman and Seattle.
KHatch_Brecek: I babysat Aaron!
Jim: He must have been a large child!
KHatch_Brecek: Ha ha ha, he was not small by any means.
Jim: I should've interviewed you for the inside scoop!
Guest3162 (guest): Hopefully you were kind to him -- he is big strong human now
Jim: I'm always kind to 22-year olds who outweigh me by 120 pounds
Guest2353 (guest): Going to ask for score predictions as usual? I'll go with EWU 28 NAU 27. (Average of Cal Poly Weber score
KHatch_Brecek: Ha ha ha, oh I have some stories! I'm his (tied) biggest fan, besides his Mom-- LeeAnn of course!
Jim: You read my mind 2353: score predictions!
KHatch_Brecek: 43-37 EWU
Guest2103 (guest): Bad weather: NAU 42 EWU 21 Good weather NAU 55 - EWU 35 If NAU is having one of their down days EWU 45-28
Guest3162 (guest): EWU 20 NAU 14
Jim: In four years covering this team, I've never picked against them in a conference game ...
KHatch_Brecek: And now you are, is that what you are saying?
Guest3162 (guest): don't start now Jim
Jim: ... And I won't stop now after looking at the weather report (breezy and cold) ... EWU 34, NAU 30
Guest2353 (guest): Good man!
Jim: Thanks, that wasn't easy.
Guest1297 (guest): EWU needs to score 38+ if their going to win EWU 45 NAU 42, Inferno magic continues
Jim: Thanks, everyone. We'll do it again next week