The Woodward Stadium football field, mangled beyond recognition by the end of last season, featured green plant life that looked suspiciously similar to grass Saturday afternoon.
The Eastern Washington defense blended in.
Indeed, EWU’s annual Red-White football scrimmage only confirmed the expected. Specifically, that the EWU offense is dominant when opposed by its fledgling defense. Sophomore Brian Sherick displayed the accuracy that has made him the probable starter at quarterback, completing 12 of 16 for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the White team’s 34-7 rehearsal.
“He’s accurate, really poised and he feels the flow,” second-year EWU coach Mike Kramer observed. “Right now, he’s putting everything together.”
The other QBs Scott Bond, Josh Lies and Harry Leons - were a combined 25 for 46 for 265 yards and two scores. None has performed with the consistency of the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Sherick, a 1993 University High School graduate.
“It’s great to get a chance to do what I can,” said Sherick, whose TD passes went to Jeff Ogden (twice) and Jerrold Jackson. “Our passing game was working today. The offensive line gave me plenty of time.”
One of Sherick’s favorite targets was U-Hi teammate Jon Millar, who caught five passes for 66 yards.
After featuring running backs David Lewis and Rex Prescott in EWU’s first three scrimmages, Kramer handed off to the passing game Saturday. And with returning starters Tom Ackerman, Kevin Peterson and Aaron Barfield leading an O-line that allowed just one sack, Sherick performed with confidence.
“The most satisfying part has been our offensive line,” Kramer said. “Defensively, we’re young and the secondary can’t even recognize formations yet. Fortunately, we still have 29 practices to go.”
As expected, senior linebacker Dion Alexander was an exception, making a scrimmage-best 10 tackles. “I’ve been a quiet leader in the past,” said Alexander, a 1993 All-Big Sky first-team pick. “Now it’s my senior year, so I’ve got to step up and be a little more vocal.”
Defensive back Joe Pence, a freshman from Gonzaga Prep, followed with nine tackles, while linebacker Terry Cloer (eight) and defensive end Steve Mattson (seven) also contributed.
Mattson complemented tight ends Jesse Hardt and Tim Hunsaker last year, but is needed on a defensive line that lost all four starters.
“Mattson was good today on the defensive line, and that’s disappointing” Kramer joked. “He and Chris (Scott) are our best defensive linemen, but Mattson was a (valuable) tight end.”
Freshman Scott Johnson, who led EWU with eight catches for 66 yards, takes Mattson’s old spot. AllBig Sky first-teamer Hardt is recovering from a knee injury.
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