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EWU spring football: Eagles offense much-improved in second scrimmage

On a sublime Saturday afternoon, the future of Eastern Washington football was as bright as the sunshine at Roos Field.

As the Eagles’ offense made some noise in the second spring scrimmage, a trio of freshmen also made themselves known.

Quarterback Gage Gubrud, running back Ashanti Kindle and wide receiver Simba Webster made the most of their opportunities, helping the Eagles rack up 550 yards on 85 plays. None of them has played in a collegiate game, but they were making their case for playing time on Saturday.

“I just came into it thinking there’s always the chance to make some moves,” said Gubrud, who redshirted last season. “My goal is to be the starting quarterback, and I’m trying to do whatever I can. If I fall short, at least I tried, right?”

Gubrud was 10 for 13 for 117 yards and an interception, and picked up 51 more yards on five scrambles. He also accounted for two scores: a 31-yard strike to Cooper Kupp and an 8-yard scramble.

All four quarterbacks had good outings. As a group they completed 32 of 47 passes for 309 yards. Veteran Jordan West had a strong effort, completing 8 of 11 passes for 105 yards.

Kindle, a strong-running 200-pounder from Puyallup, Washington, also showed some moves in the open field. Whether he moves up the depth chart this fall is another matter, but he’s grateful for the chance.

“It’s been a blessing to be out with the guys and competing,” said Kindle, who had 11 carries for 76 yards.

“Spring is about staying positive and building on your mistakes.”

Speaking of mistakes, many assumed Webster made a big one late in the scrimmage, when he fumbled into the end zone for a touchback. Not so: Defensive lineman Conner Baumann made a great play, hustling across the field to knock the ball loose.

Immediately after the play, coach Beau Baldwin ran to Webster’s side and got confirmation that the freshman didn’t try to reach into the end zone.

“I’m just happy that our defense didn’t quit in a situation where you thought the game was over,” Baldwin said.

Webster, the brother of EWU defensive back Nzuzi Webster, had a huge scrimmage with nine catches for 93 yards.

The veterans stepped up too. Receiver Kendrick Bourne had a sensational one-handed catch in the end zone, and Shaq Hill opened the scrimmage with a 65-yard TD on a reverse.

On the next possession, West directed a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Not bad for an offense that a week earlier was held to 123 yards on 40 plays.

“I think they did a great job,” Baldwin said. “You just saw an operation that looks better, and that is a word that I keep using: operation.”

There were still some balls on the ground and some turnovers that we still have to clean up … but I think we have a good base halfway through spring,” Baldwin said.

The defense forced two turnovers on fumbles. On a day in which quarterbacks were fair game – there were no quick whistles on sacks like usual – the defense had five sacks by five different players.

Freshman redshirt linebacker Kurt Calhoun had 10 tackles on the day, and Kody Beckering and Mac McLachlan each had seven. Beckering also had a sack and pass broken up.

Notes

After suffering another concussion earlier in the week, running back Jordan Talley said he is giving up the game. Talley had suffered several other concussions earlier in his career. … Baldwin kept his sense of humor even after Gubrud was sacked by his undershirt. On some players, Gubrud included, the new black undershirts hung below their uniform, giving safety Todd Raynes something to grab. After the play, Baldwin looked to the sideline and yelled sarcastically, “But it’s swag, right?” … Baldwin said next week’s Red-White Spring Game will see live kickoff and return drills.

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