Jim: OK, let's talk about the Eagles!
Jim: Warmup question: is Eastern's 3-2 record at this point about what you expected?
joemon (guest): I thought 4-1 until after the Oregon game.I'll take 3-2.
Brett (guest): Yes tough schedule so far
Jim: I think most people would. I hope Oregon doesn't drag down Eastern's strength of schedule (he writes with only a trace of sarcasm).
joemon (guest): The DL is still too soft against the run
Jim: Agreed. I think that's the biggest concern as we hit midseason. However, did you notice that the defense got better late in the Cal Poly game?
Brett (guest): 3-2 is great for how beat up they are.
joemon (guest): EWU would have beat Oregon id Adams wasn't the QB
Jim: Yes, Adams with Eastern and Lockie with Oregon could have gone the Eagles' way, for sure.
joemon (guest): Its hard to imagine how a team like Oregon wouldn't have a QB ready to play.
Jim: I'm sure many Duck fans are wondering that right now.
Brett (guest): Defense has rising to challeng when needed. The last play of Cal Poly would have been stuffed regardless of fumble.
Jim: Did you notice the first-down yardage for Poly in the second half, and especially the fourth quarter. The defense was dominant on first down, forcing a lot of 2nd-and-8s.
joemon (guest): I really thought EWU would shutdown Cal Poly like they did the past 2 years. But having the DL a yard off the line of scrimmage was a real head twister.Having played DT, you want to be right up on the guy you’re going against so they don’t get momentum on you
Brett (guest): D-line has looked good
Jim: It's a work in progress, just like the offense.
Jim: How worried are you about the Bengals, who are coming off a big win at North Dakota?
adam (guest): Do you think other big sky teams will double team Kupp like Ploy did??
Jim: Hard to say: were Kupp's low numbers the product of heavy coverage or the wind (fewer deep balls,which is Kupp's forte)?
joemon (guest): ISU could give them a good game. They have one of the best receivers and their OL is better than what their scores would indicate
Jim: ISU is a very good offensive team; defense, not so much. However, their stats might be misleading since they got pummeled by Boise State (52-0) and UNLV (80-8)
GoEags88 (guest): I am a little worried about them. What type of offense do they run?
Jim: They run a spread passing game. The new QB Michael Sanders has struggled to replace the departed Justin Arias, but he had a great game in Grand Forks (32-for-49 for 427 yards, 4 TDs and no picks).
joemon (guest): I have a feeling that West will light ISU up considering the game is indoors and there will be no wind to contend with. I also think the running game will get untracked
Jim: Yes on both of those. The Eagles will have their way on offense, IMO
Jim: It's a strength, and now only right tackle Cassidy Curtis is out of the lineup.
Guest8267 (guest): Is Raynes going to stay at strong safety,with Karstetter settling into the roverback position?
Jim: No. Raynes is listed atop the depth chart this week at roverback. Karstetter is No. 2 at rover.
Jim: Safety is by committee, with Weatheroy and Fettig listed as co-No. 1s; so are Bruce and Fettig at the other spot.
Guest7589 (guest): Late getting here. My joke to OR fans is that they stole the wrong QB. As far as Id State. I thought they were going to be a break out team this year. I was wrong; I should have looked 1 state over. Portland State is the surprise.
Jim: That's for sure. ISU had some injuries on defense, while new QB Sanders needed time to gel. They're playing better now, but at 2-4 overall, it may be too late for them.
joemon (guest): Jim, what's your opinion of Portland State? If they play like they did at WSU and N. Texas, we may have a hard time beating them
Jim: But they also lost at home to North Dakota, which I still don't think is that good. The big thing is, the PSU players are 100 percent behind coach Barnum (who's an Eastern alum, BTW). They are playing hard and will be a tough game for anyone.
Guest7589 (guest): Im glad we are playing them @ the Inferno. That last game may have many implications i.e. Big Sky, seeding in playoffs
Jim: Still, I have to make Eastern the favorite in its last six games.
Guest7589 (guest): Is Hennessey back in rotation? What about Cassidy and DeBord?
Jim: Hennessey is fully healed from the ankle injury and back at No. 2 on the depth chart at QB
Jim: Curtis is still out with a foot injury, but could be back next week. DeBord is questionable with a concussion suffered at Sac State, but he was in pads when I went to practice on Tuesday.
adam (guest): Any idea how much $$ was raised for cancer awareness day? I thought the grey unis looked sharp.
Jim: Sorry, no idea. However, I will be journeying across the state of Idaho tomorrow with athletic director Bill Chaves - I'll ask him.
joemon (guest): I still have a hard time believing with the talent we have on the DL, that teams are running wild on us
Jim: The DL is athletic, but quite young, so that talent is still developing, IMO.
Jim: I just looked at the depth chart, and 10 of 12 on the three-deep are underclassmen. Folks, that's as young as it gets. Thoughts?
Jim: I'm talking about the D-line.
Guest7589 (guest): I agree with joemon (once per Thursday, haha) I do think they got way better in 2nd half.
Jim: Yes, they did. The coaches' habit of rotating 10-12 guys paid off in that game.
Guest7589 (guest): Great point Jim. Getting a lot of experience. I personally like rotating; keeps them fresh for 2nd half and gets experience for every guy
joemon (guest): They are young but we have some pretty big dudes. Hopefully they start to look like Monike Sarte.That guy is built for only being a freshman
Jim: I have to disagree. Of the 12, only Sommer and Tiuli are 300 pounds-plus. Sarte and Levao are 290, and on the ends, only Keenan Willams is over 250.
Jim: This is a D-line that has speed but lacks size and experience.
Guest8267 (guest): I think with all that youth on the defensive line, there is a lot of upside. I would like to see some of the guys try to get some more weight on them though. I also like the youth at safety.
Brett (guest): The Kline back ups are getting the job done line looks good
Guest7589 (guest): Open question: We changed D coordinator this year, he changed the D to a 4-2-5. Are we better? Do we need to more time to decide?
Brett (guest): I hate auto correct O. Line
Jim: That's a tough one. They are showing progress.
joemon (guest): It will be interesting to see how Keenan Williams and Jim Towsend progress. They are doing well for true freshman
Jim: As you may know, Williams is a three-star recruit from Cheney who had offers from several FBS schools. It's no accident that he's starting as a true freshman.Townsend is backing him up and doing well.
adam (guest): I think that scheme is better given that the big sky is a passing heavy conference...
Jim: That was a major reason for switching to the 4-2-5; that, and a lot of speed and athleticism in the secondary.
Brett (guest): Gonna be tough to stop a true smash-mouth team in playoffs
Jim: Yes, but Cal Poly definitely qualifies as smash-mouth. The bigger worry is running into another Illinois State.
adam (guest): Jim do you think Kupp will leave for the NFL after this season?
Jim: I've heard rumors, nothing else. His situation is similar to Tyler Harvey's: he will have a degree this year and has a chance to play at the next level. So yes, it certainly is a possibility.
Guest8267 (guest): I like the switch to the 4-2-5, and I think the last couple recruiting classes could be very successful in it.
Jim: Eastern recruits for speed, that's for sure.
joemon (guest): Jim, I still don't like that 4-2. It requires having a DL that is very physical to stop the run and we're too inexperienced up front
Jim: Fortunately, they have two athletic ends in Ebukam and Williams, but the backups are inexperienced.Your point is valid.
Jim: Mid-season midterm question: who makes the postseason from the Big Sky?
joemon (guest): EWU, PSU, MSU
Jim: What about Southern Utah, which is 2-0 Big Sky?
Guest7589 (guest): Postseason= EWU, PSU, not sure
joemon (guest): Hmmm, SUU is a ???
Jim: I do believe that 7-4 will get you into the playoffs, considering strength of schedule.
Guest8267 (guest): EWU and PSU, and the winner of the Southern Utah-MSU game. Southern Utah got a schedule break with no EWU or UM game this year.
Jim: That's right. The T-Birds are 3-2 overall and should beat Sac and Davis the next two weeks to get to 5-2. Then it gets tough.
joemon (guest): I think whoever makes it will not advance beyond the Missouri Valley conference
Jim: Yes, the committee likes to pair Big Sky and MVC teams, which makes sense.
joemon (guest): I have a feeling NDSU will win it again unless they face James Madison ( I think JMU is number 1 right now)
Guest8267 (guest): Even though there is still a long way to go, I hope we can win out to get a seed and bye to avoid playing in the first round.
Jim: I'm not going there yet, but even if the Eagles drop one, they'll be 8-3 and may get a first-round bye.
Jim: Five minutes left: score predictions for this week?
Jim: I say Eastern wins 51-34
joemon (guest): EWU 55-35
Guest8267 (guest): EWU 49 ISU 35
Jim: We're all thinking alike!
Guest7589 (guest): EWU 42-28
adam (guest): another track meet 51-44 eags
joemon (guest): I think the DL will have a tough game. ISU is big up front
Jim: OK, thanks, everyone. I'm off to Pocatello in the morning (that's a good thing, right?)
Guest7589 (guest): Thanks again Jim. Have safe travels.