If bad news can be good, Paul Wulff got it Monday morning.
The Eastern Washington football coach learned that starting safety Gregor Smith would be out at least two or three weeks with a knee injury.
The only reason that is good news is because it’s the first time in four games the injury report did not include at least three players lost for a significant amount of time.
Defensive lineman Garrett Quinn, who twice limped off the field in a 42-24 win over Portland State, was practicing in preparation for this weekend’s game at Northern Arizona.
Quarterback Erik Meyer, who took a beating and said after the game his sternum, a knee and his left pinky were hurting, is also good to go.
“I don’t sleep much lately,” Wulff said. “My injury list is two pages.”
Part of the reason is the players injured earlier are not back.
“It’s the law of averages overall and a little bit of a freak thing, too,” Wulff said of the injury bug that has afflicted the Eagles. “It’s just happening. There will be periods of time we won’t have any (injuries). Let’s hope we’re creeping up on that. Let’s hope we start getting some guys back and keep improving. We’re going to keep battling. We have a lot of good guys still playing football.”
Bryan Jarrett, who filled in well for Smith, and safety/cornerback DeNique Ford will share Smith’s spot.
Running back Ryan Cole became the second Eagle to earn Big Sky Conference offensive player of the week honors after battering the Vikings for 154 yards and five touchdowns.
Two weeks ago Meyer was honored for the fourth time in his career.
Cole had 25 carries with three in the fourth quarter producing touchdowns, including a 52-yarder that broke open the game. With nine touchdowns this season, Cole is averaging a Big Sky-best 13.5 points per game.
Sacramento State’s Matt Logue and Montana State’s Nick Marudas share defensive honors and Montana’s Alan Saenz is the special teams selection.
Special teams changes
Because Eastern special teams have traditionally been solid, the costly breakdowns in the loss at Idaho State could have been considered an aberration. But after more mistakes, particularly on coverage teams, against PSU, changes are coming.
“We’re very disappointed in some of our veteran players that are starting and playing a lot on special teams,” Wulff said. “They did not and have not played well and it cost us a lot on special teams. That’s an issue we have to address now. … I think we need to move a few people and we need to challenge some people. I don’t know that we have enough pride on those units right now. We may pull a freshman off redshirt to help us. We’ll evaluate that this week.”
A week after Casey Willis took all of the scoring kicks, Sheldon Weddle did the kicking Saturday.
“He was solid in warm-ups and Casey kicked poor,” Wulff said. “We went with who kicked the best and there was a definite discrepancy there.”
Lane adds depth
Missouri transfer George Lane provided much needed depth for the defensive line. Though not in great shape after arriving in Cheney barely 10 days ago and still unfamiliar with Eastern schemes, Lane helped plug the middle. He played about 15 snaps and was credited with one assisted tackle.
“He did a couple of good things,” Wulff said. “Just getting that playing time is a good thing. It was his first action since junior college. There are some things he needs to continue to pick up, but the more he can get reps and the more he pushes himself, the more he’ll help.”
The 285-pounder redshirted at Missouri last year after transferring from junior college.
Saturday’s EWU game at Northern Arizona will be televised regionally by SportsWest based out of Salt Lake City and will be picked up locally by KSKN Channel 22. … Despite its win, Eastern dropped one spot to 15th in the Sports Network rankings. Montana remained fourth, Montana State moved up one spot to 11th and Idaho State dropped one spot to 25th. Cal Poly, EWU’s opponent Nov. 5, is eighth and UC-Davis, which visits EWU on Nov. 19, is second among others receiving votes. … In every game this season either Meyer or wide receiver Eric Kimble has set an Eastern career record. The latest is Meyer passing Mark Tenneson, who played from 1989-92, in career passing yards. Meyer has 7,626. Next up is Kimble getting the all-purpose yards record. … Kimble moved into the Big Sky top 10 in career receptions. He is eighth with 194, with the next two in front of him at 195 and 201.
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