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EWU sports live chat transcript (Sept. 8)

Jim: OK, let's talk EWU football!

Guest1843 (guest): So Jim, looks like EWU surprised a few of us. I wasn't able to see the game but what's your impression of Gage and his OL?

Jim: Everyone was surprised, especially by the performance of Gage and his O-line.

Jim: What can you say about a guy who breaks the single-game offense record in his first start? Also, I spoke this week with O-line coach Aaron Best, who said his guys exceeded expectations.

KHatch_Brecek: Thoughts on the game? I know you had EWU losing by a TD or two.

Jim: I thought you'd remind me about that! I had WSU winning 45-27, mostly because of the uncertainty at QB and O-line, but also the defense. They gave up 42 pts, but shut out WSU for 31 minutes and got some big stops in the first and third quarters. That was huge. Very aggressive defense.

Guest1843 (guest): Any word on Matthew Sommer? May need him for ND State.

Jim: Baldwin said on Tuesday that nose tackle Matt Sommer is questionable - and yes, EWU will need his run-stopping ability against the NDSU run game.

Jim: On that same note, I thought WSU got away from the run too soon. The Cougar RBs were getting almost 6 yards per rush, but only got 17 carries. I thought they'd have more.

KHatch_Brecek: I won't let you forget about that, Jim. I thought the D played well, and haven't seen them hit as hard as they were in quite some time. Stopping them when they did was HUGE and really a turning point for us.

Guest1843 (guest): I wouldn't mind seeing Lavao back on the DL for this game. They need as many big bodies as they can get.

Jim: True, but Levao is second on the depth chart at right offensive tackle - and that's where he's going to stay.

Jim: Expect the Eagles to rotate up to 10 guys on the D-line, especially inside. However, I was impressed with their ability to pressure Falk with just four rushers.

Guest1843 (guest): About time the defense was aggressive. I think this was the missing component the past few years. Not sure if the 4-2-5 will work against the Bison. Hopefully we switch to a 4-3.


Jim: Agreed. The 4-2-5 is versatile enough, but roverback Cole Karstetter can mix it up against the run. My biggest concern is still EWU's lack of beef lower on the D-line depth chart.

Guest1843 (guest): How would you compare ND State vs. WSU? Most seem to think ND State is better but I would disagree.

Jim: Totally different teams, and that's the big challenge for EWU on both sides of the ball. "A different animal," LB Miquiyah Zamora told me earlier this week.

Jim: For one thing, NDSU likes to grind out the clock, with great RBs, They also have a mobile QB in Easton Stick, and that's been a lethal combination for EWU in big games the last few years.

Jim: Offensively, the O-line has a bigger challenge, as NDSU has a big, fast front seven. However, the Bison secondary is considered a weakness -relatively speaking, Look for Eastern to exploit that, if Gubrud gets time.

Guest6088 (guest): In the airport right now Fargo Bound! looking forward to this game!

Jim: Have fun - I will be watching from home.

Guest1843 (guest): I was able to watch some highlights. Havilli seems to play bigger than he is.

Jim: As many know, Havili is a converted middle linebacker who missed all of last year. He looked great last week.

Guest6088 (guest): How great was it to see Shaq and Albert out there flying around again!

Jim: That's right – WR Shaq Hill missed almost all of last year with a knee injury. You couldn't tell last week: He had 109 yards in receptions and made some big plays.

Jim: Question: How does the win over WSU change your estimation of how many games the Eagles win this year?

Jim: Preseason, I had EWU at 7-4 and third in the Big Sky, but now I'm thinking 9-2 and a conference title.

Guest1843 (guest): I honestly thought we would go 3-8 now I wouldn't be surprised at 9-2

Jim: Appreciate your honesty. Few fans would admit picking a 3-8 season. Last November left a bitter taste, I'm sure.

Guest1843 (guest): Gage and the OL have been much better than I thought and the aggressive D really helps.

Jim: All of the above.

Guest1843 (guest): Do you know what happened to LB Beckering I thought he had a lot of upside and he looked good in Spring

Jim: Good question. He was pretty low on the depth chart,but had a decent spring.

Guest1843 (guest): Any weaknesses you saw in week 1?

Jim: A few: WSU was 7-for-12 on third down. That was a problem last year and can't continue against an NDSU team that loves to control the clock.

Jim: Also, too many penalties.- 12 for 118 yards. Even half that is too many. Luckily for EWU, the Cougs had almost as many (12 for 101 yards), and theirs came at bad times for WSU.

Guest1843 (guest): May have to stack the line of Scrimmage like Charleston did in the first game.

Jim: Count on it. Easton Stick, the successor to Carson Wentz, struggled a bit in that game (17-27, 194 yards and a pick), but Baldwin says that's not indicative of how well he played last year (when Wentz was injured).

Jim: Also, Stick is a very good runner, so EWU's defense will have a lot to think about.

Guest1843 (guest): Did we release an injury report? I know we have a couple of DE's who have been sidelined

Jim: Eastern releases an injury report every Tuesday. This week, NT Matt Sommer is questionable with a knee injury and ends Conner Baumann and Nick Foerstel are also out.

Jim: Foerstel is out for the year with a knee injury suffered last spring, and Baumann is still recovering from an ankle injury from spring ball.

Jim: That's another reason for the concern over depth.

Guest1511 (guest): I didn't go to any Eastern scrimmages for the first time in many Summers. Has Eastern been showing a lot of 3 man fronts on D? I was surprised to see how much they mixed up their fronts against WSU.

Jim: Not many - I also was surprised to see that many. Don't expect it this week.

Guest6088 (guest): Agree on both weaknesses. Somehow we have to get better on 3rd down.Some silly penalties too.Personal foul on that last Coug drive for example.

Guest1511 (guest): Also, what kind of name is "Easton Stick?" It sounds like some kind of weird new golf club.

Jim: If you google it, you get a picture of a hockey stick!

KHatch_Brecek: Ha ha ha 1511

Guest1843 (guest): Any freshman making the trip this week

Guest3948 (guest): How many get to travel. I notice that Charlston seemed to have low numbers on travel team

Jim: Well. Fewer than last week, since the Eags can travel 70 against an FBS team but only 58 for this one.

Jim: That reminds me: I need to check on which redshirts have been burned. Everyone noticed RB Antoine Custer, who made some noise in Pullman.

KHatch_Brecek: What were our running game stats?

Jim: EWU was 25 rushes for 110 yards ... Gubrud had 77 of those, so the RBs need to be a bigger factor. However, Custer,Wilson and McPherson had catches.

Guest6088 (guest): I thought Custer looked exciting. That TD run on the screen showed some big potential! Hey, how's 72 look?

Guest1843 (guest): I figured Custer's redshirt would b e burned and wouldn't be surprised that Pierce's gets burned as well. DJ Dyer the freshman OL looks like he may as well too.

Guest1511 (guest): Should we expect Eastern to stack the box and force NDSU to try and go over the top for yards? It seems like it would be the smart way to go, although we haven't seen much of that from the Eags in several years.

Jim: Pick your poison, but yes, you have to stack the box most of the time.

Guest3948 (guest): I am trying to remember the Griz vs NDSU game last year... seems to me they had trouble defending a pass happy team. Charlston was effective passing against them.

Jim: True, but that was a rebuilding year for NDSU's secondary. They improved obviously, but the weakness is still in the secondary. The Bison front seven is their strength.

Guest6088 (guest): I liked the sweeps with our receivers. Utilize some strengths.

Jim: Absolutely!

Guest1843 (guest): Number 72 -Keith Moore Any word on him? I remember him wanting to say he wanted to play DE and he certainly has the size we need.

Jim: He has that. That could be a redshirt decision down the road.

Guest3948 (guest): What is travel... fly to Twin Cities bus to Hell.

Jim: My condolences!

Guest1511 (guest): I remember Montana throwing the ball all over the Bison last year. They had one CB who got exploited all game long. Any holes in their secondary this year?

Guest6088 (guest): Fargo is nice this time of year, actually.

Jim: It's considered a weakness in terms of experience, mostly at cornerback. That's where Eastern has to win the game.

Jim: Speaking of which, what's your revised estimate on how many games the Eagles win in September. Suddenly that gauntlet doesn't look so tough -agreed?

KHatch_Brecek: I'm curious to know from your 9-2 prediction,who would the 2 losses be against?

Jim: Putting me on the spot again, aren't we?

KHatch_Brecek: It's my job, Jim

Jim: I figure this next game is the toughest remaining, plus @NAU and @PSU would be the others. And don't forget Montana. One of those, making it 7-1 in league and 9-2 overall.

Jim: A week ago, you would've taken that in a heartbeat -admit it KHatch_Brecek!

Guest3948 (guest): KHB doesn't forget

Guest6088 (guest): It will be interesting to see how they play us. Obviously trying to defend the triple option (CSU) leaves your corners on an island. They'll defend us a bit differently.

Jim: Their coach said this week that they expect to be in nickel coverage most of the time.

KHatch_Brecek: Not to take away anything from NDSU,because what they have done is nothing short of amazing, but I thought they looked very beatable when I watched them.Still very tough, but beatable.

Jim: True, although Charleston Southern was 10-3 last year and reached the FCS quarterfinals.

KHatch_Brecek: We are playing with more confidence than they have had in the past. It showed on Saturday and continues to show this week. The players seem confident and hungry to take on another challenge.

Jim: Yes, it will.

Jim: OK, let's hear those predictions!

Guest3948 (guest): Eags 45-42

Jim: That sounds familiar.

Guest1843 (guest): I have a feeling that EWU keeps it going 49-28

KHatch_Brecek: Dare I say we win 38-31 on a fumble...

Guest6088 (guest): 42-38 good guys

Guest6088 (guest): Jim, thanks for all the great Eag coverage!

Guest3948 (guest): Thanks Jim

Jim: Thanks! OK, that'll do it -I'll post this ASAP, then finish my feature story on a Spokane kid who started as a walk on and is now a senior captain. Any guesses? (guest): Bruce

Jim: Bingo! See you next week!


Jim Allen
Jim Allen joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently covers K-12 education and women's basketball.

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