On further review, Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams looked as good on film as he did to 62,861 fans last weekend in Seattle.
“That was probably the best I’ve ever seen him play,” Eagles coach Beau Baldwin said Tuesday as the Eagles opened practice three days after a 59-52 loss at Washington.
The numbers were sensational – Adams threw for a career-high 475 yards and school-record seven touchdowns – and earned him The Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Co-Offensive Player of the Week, and was one of five National FCS “All-Stars” as selected by College Sporting News.
Bleacherreport.com picked him as its National Offensive Player of the Week for all classifications of football.
And for the second straight week and eighth time in his career, he earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Big Sky Conference.
Baldwin credits Adams’ work ethic and coachability as much as his talent.
“When he came here in 2011, I wouldn’t have called him an accurate passer, but he’s worked on where his elbow is, his foot movement” with quarterbacks coach Zak Hill.
It also doesn’t hurt that Baldwin and his staff “rep it a ton, and do more individual work that most teams do, one-on-one where the receivers are tight with the DBs.”
The payoff was Adams’ pinpoint accuracy against a Husky secondary that didn’t play all that badly; in particular, Adams’ first-quarter touchdown passes to Cooper Kupp and Kendrick Bourne threaded a very tight needle.
Said Adams, “It comes from practice on ball placement, techniques, just the little things – that’s where you perfect your craft.”
On Saturday, Adams excelled in conditions that were far from perfect. Cramping in the third quarter, he refused time-consuming intravenous treatment.
“He didn’t even have all his stuff in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter he’s still finding a way,” Baldwin said. “I’m very lucky to coach that young man, that’s for sure.”
Looking back at UW
The same film showed room for improvement on both sides of the ball, players and coaches said.
For Adams, that meant being more judicious in running the ball. “My neck is sore from taking hits I shouldn’t take,” Adams said.
Defensively, the Eagles gave up 536 yards, partly because some young players saw more action than planned, partly because of injury.
“We just have to understand that there are times when we are going through some growing pains, but the best is yet to come in some areas,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said the Eagles were in good position on several plays that the Huskies’ speed turned into big gains.
In particular, Baldwin noted a near-interception by linebacker Miquiyah Zamora in the second quarter. “Soon, he’s going to make that play,’” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said WR/KR Shaq Hill is almost recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the UW game. … DE Samson Ebukam missed the UW game with an ankle injury, but could return against MSU. …. WR Cory Mitchell suffered a collarbone injury and will miss four to six weeks.
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