Here's the replay from today's EWU football chat with beat writer Jim Allen.
Jim Allen: OK, folks - let's talk Eastern football!
EdubU10 (guest): Guess I'll start. How will our receiving corps do against a young Oregon secondary?
Jim: Hello - great question, and of course that's EWU's strength against Oregon's relative weakness.
Jim: The Duck secondary is young, but all four DBs played last year, so they're not as green as UW's group was last year.
Jim: CBs Seisay played vs. Fla. St and OSU in the playoffs, while safety Reggie Daniels started all 15 games last year. The other safety, Tyree Robinson, appeared in all 15 games but started just once. They're very athletic.
Joemon (guest): Jim, how would say the QB's have progressed between spring and now?
Jim: The coaches told me that they've rarely seen the kin of progress that Jordan West made from spring through August: the game is slowing down for him and he's getting to his second an third options much faster than he did last year.
Jim: Backups Hennessey and Gubrud had strong spring sessions, though of course they've seen no game action yet.
Joemon (guest): From what I have seen from teams that have beat the ducks they have a very physical front 7. I think our DTs are big enough but I think our little LB's will have a hard time stopping Mr. Royce. Any thoughts
Jim: I think you're half right. Eastern DT Matthew Sommer can plug the inside with his 310 pounds, but the other tackle, Andre Lino is just 265.
Jim: Of course the Eagles will rotate 10-12 D-linemen as they always do,but Freeman is a load at 230 pounds. And yes, the EWU linebackers are small.
EdubU10 (guest): How much improvement should we see from the eags secondary this year?
Joemon (guest): That's why for this game I'm surprised Tiuli is not starting in place of Lino. They need the size up there
Jim: With such a young unit, I'd expect to see a lot of growth. After this week, they'll face a green QB at No. Iowa before facing Prukop of Montana State in two weeks. That will tell the tale on their early progress. Remember that CBs Webster and Tucker, along with FS Mitch Fettig, don't have much playing experience.
Guest2777 (guest): How are the eags getting there when leaving
Jim: Good question, which I answered in today's paper: they're flying via charter Friday morning. That's a lot better than the 8-hour bus ride to Corvallis two years ago. I wouldn't expect any dehydration issues this time!
Joemon (guest): How do you think VA will do against his former teammates
Jim: Unless he has an emotional guilt trip and can't focus (highly unlikely),he'll do quite well. Remember, Oregon's offense is run-based, so VA will be handing off to Freeman.
Guest2777 (guest): That's great. I was afraid of the bus again.
Jim: So were a lot of people!
Jim: By the way, we have lots of EWU football stories in the paper this week, including today's special football section with a keys to the Eagle season and a feature on EWU offensive line coach Aaron Best - be sure to check those out!
EdubU10 (guest): It seems like from what I've read that Oregon is at least acknowledging that EWU isn't some run of the mill body bag game like other PAC-12 schools have in the past.
Jim: And that may not be a good thing, since EWU's receivers are getting plenty of praise from the Oregon coaches and players. I'd expect the Duck DBs to come out and try to make a statement.
Joemon (guest): I'll be curious to see how our OL does against a pretty big DL and big athletic LB's which have given us issues in the past (California game a few years back)
Jim: That's the biggest key to EWU at least making this game interesting.A veteran, all-senior OL simply has to be able hold its own and make some blocks in the run game. That didn't happen last year vs. UW, forcing the Eagles to go to the air. That also was true to some extent at OSU in 2013.
Jim: Who out there thinks Oregon comes out in a nickel, or at least drops two LBs in their 3-4 scheme?
Bj5: Can you post a link on best and oline
Jim: Here's a link to my feature on Aaron Best:http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/sep/03/nothing-but-the-best/
Jim: And here are some storylines to look forward to this year:http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/sep/03/new-wrinkles-in-offense-could-help-offset-loss-of/
Guest2777 (guest): We are blessed with alot of great receiver's above and beyond Kupp and Shaq. What changes have you seen in camp this fall to take advantage of this strength.
Jim: That's a tough one, without giving anything away. In spring ball, Baldwin said there will be some wrinkles "that will make us harder to defend." (As if it wasn't tough enough already!)
EdubU10 (guest): Will we see more Terrance Grady this year?
Jim: He's in the two-deep, so yes. He fell off the radar a bit after that fumble at UW, but he has all the tools. Sblendorio and Webster also have talent to see plenty of time. Webster has had an impressive fall camp, IMO.
Jim: Here are two opinions on how the Ducks will defend:
Joemon (guest): I would think Oregon comes out in there base D. They are probably confident they have the athletes to cover EWU receivers and the DL will definitely cause issues for Jordan
Bj5: If they come out in a Nicole 3 4 I like it run run run control the clock
Joemon (guest): So Jim, do you think there is a chance of an upset?
Ji: Beating OSU and scaring UW is one thing, but this an elite program in Eugene. Even if the Eagles are clicking on offense and drive for 5-6 TDs,the defense will need a superhuman effort to slow down the Duck offense.They'll need some turnovers (BTW, did you know that the Eagles got zero takeaways combined in the OSU and UW games - that's been a big focus in camp as well)
Bj5: I am biased my kid is on the op but I think eags will have big year running the ball
Jim: They will, but not this week. A better test is how they fare against a stingy Northern Iowa defense next week. The week after that, they should roll against a weak Montana State defense.
EdubU10 (guest): How many points do we score on Oregon? I'm going with the optimistic outlook of at least 30. I know Beau has a good game plan up his sleeve
Jim: I say 24, and I've been sticking with all week. Final score: Oregon 55,EWU 24. And keep in mind that I've picked EWU to win the Sky, but I believe that on paper, this is the toughest opponent EWU has faced in 20 years.
Joemon (guest): I have to agree with BJ5, the OL is key and they have the size and experience to push Oregon around a bit
Guest2777 (guest): Its great to see that Matt Johnson is coaching this year.What is his status ie Grad Asst?
Jim: Sorry, but I haven't had a chance to speak with Matt. I know that he is a grad assistant, working with the defense.
Jim: Also, former center Jase Butorac is working with the O-line under coach Best. Finally, former EWU DB Allen Brown (a grad assistant last year)is now an assistant at Cal Poly. So, is this a new cradle of coaches?
Guest2777 (guest): Who is #2 QB. Which has had the better fall camp
Jim: To my untrained eye, Hennessey and Gubrud are dead even, but Hennessey is second on the depth chart based on command of the offense vs. Gubrud's mobility. That's not the final word, though.
EdubU10 (guest): Who are a few guys who have had an awesome fall camp? I keep hearing the Wesbster twins have really impressed.
Jim: Simba Webster for sure, he's a very slick receiver who makes people miss. Nzuzi Webster is showing solid coverage in practice.
Joemon (guest): I'll be willing to bet that we get a couple of turnovers with VA at the helm. I would say that Long Beach State in 1983 was to be our toughest ever opponent. I seem to remember the Spokeman had us at 49 point underdogs because they had played Kansas State, BYU, UCLA. I remember we beat them 20-17
Jim: You should hope for that. I remember the 2010 defense had 46 takeways, pretty mind-blowing.
EdubU10 (guest): Have you heard anything regarding the gateway or any other stadium modifications?
Guest2777 (guest): How the hell old are you Joemon?haha
Jim: That's funny, because I recall that in 1984, Long Beach State was leading the Ducks 17-7 in the third quarter when coach Rich Brooks decided to roll the dice and go with a redshirt freshman QB. That was Chris Miller,who led the Ducks to a 28-17 win.
Joemon (guest): 54 - graduated in 83
Jim: I got you by four years!
Bj5: I'm hoping for a good showing
Jim: In terms of EWU fans in Eugene - yes, I've heard there will be several hundred. I know a few who are already in Oregon, enjoying the coast before heading to Eugene.
Guest2777 (guest): Jim, If one can't attend Thursday noon chat, is there a way to view after the fact. i was not able to last week. Thanks in advance
Jim: Yes, when this is over, I will copy and paste the complete chat and post it on SportsLink.
Guest2777 (guest): Also,Thanks again for the great coverage that you are giving the Eags.
Jim: Thanks - I love this job.
EdubU10 (guest): Yes, thank you for all your work covering the eags. It's much appreciated!
EdubU10 (guest): Since you're a Duck alum, who are you rooting for in this game?
Jim: I was afraid someone would ask this. It's been 40 years since I was a freshman at Oregon. I'm also a former season ticket holder who went 36 straight years (1975-2010) seeing at least one Duck game each season,before getting this job. That said, I also enjoy covering the Eagles.
Jim: I guess that wasn't an answer, but whatever bias I have gets checked at the door - no matter who I cover.
Guest2777 (guest): Not posting a score, but I know our guys are well coached and will play as good as any team in the country against an opponent with scholarships. GO EAGS ( or should I say God Bless Go Eagles)
Jim: Any score predictions out there?
EdubU10 (guest): 63-31
Joemon (guest): 55-36 I think Oregon has this one
Jim: Another question: anybody concerned after Montana knocked of ND St. last weekend? I picked the Griz 4th in the Sky, so I'm thinking I have them too low.
Joemon (guest): ND State is over hyped
Guest2777 (guest): Not sure if Mont that good or ND St. not as good as past years. Tough to play in WA Griz. Unless you are the EAGLES
Jim: They did lose some defenders from last year. BTW, did you know that the Bison hadn't given up 38 points since that epic playoff game at EWU in 2010.
EdubU10 (guest): The griz exceeded my expectations in that game but their QB was 30/55, so not too worried
Jim: Good point, there's a lot of football to be played. They have a tough one this week with Cal Poly.
Joemon (guest): I'll be willing to bet that ND State has a hard time getting into the playoffs
Jim: Thanks, everybody - we'll do it against next week!
Guest2777 (guest): Go EAGS!!