Cooper Kupp is perfectly unsatisfied, an attitude he hopes rubs off on the rest of the Eastern Washington football players.
Three days after the season opener at Oregon – where he caught 15 balls for 246 yards – Kupp appraised his record-breaking work and pronounced it “solid.”
That’s a few notches below the “all-galaxy” assessment he drew from the Oregon coaches and players following the Eagles’ 61-42 loss to the seventh-ranked team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but Kupp said it without a trace of false modesty.
“There’s always things you can improve on,” Kupp said Tuesday as the Eagles prepared for Saturday’s game at Northern Iowa. “We left some things out there, but the cool thing about football is you’re never going to play that perfect game.
“But we take pride in working hard to improve, and that’s how we’re going to get better,” Kupp added. That’s one reason Kupp – only a junior – was voted a team captain: because he took the words out of his head coach’s mouth.
“We need to be humble and hungry to the fact that we’re 0-1,” said Beau Baldwin, who added that he wants his players to get past the compliments and the complaints following last week’s game.
“If people are saying you had a great showing, that’s fine, but we haven’t won a game yet,” Baldwin said.
Neither has Northern Iowa, which fell 31-7 last week at Iowa State of the Big 12. The Panthers present a different challenge than Oregon: their passing game is erratic, but their quarterbacks and running backs “are very downhill runners who like to pound you,” roverback Todd Raynes said.
Raynes said the Eagle defense has plenty of work to do after giving up 731 yards to the Ducks.
UNI’s strength appears to be its defense, especially an all-senior secondary that “likes to fly around and wear you down,” Kupp said.
Beating that secondary will still be the job of Jordan West, who was 23 for 34 for 293 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the Oregon game with cramps. Backup Reilly Hennessey stunned the Ducks by not only going 14 for 21 for 114 yards and two more scores, but keeping them off balance with his running ability.
That begs the question, which Baldwin answered definitively: “I don’t have any master plan, but Jordan is definitely our starter,” Baldwin said.
The Eagles will practice today and Thursday before boarding a charter flight Friday morning for Iowa. The Eagles will hold a team walkthrough Friday afternoon at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. … Starting offensive tackle Cassidy Curtis is the biggest casualty of the Oregon game: The senior from Denver broke a metatarsal bone in his right foot and will have surgery later this week. He’s expected to miss about four weeks. Junior Jerrod Jones is next on the depth chart. Also, safety Zach Bruce was held out of practice with a shoulder injury, but his status is uncertain for this week. … Roverback John Kreifels is suspended for at least a week after he was ejected for targeting Oregon quarterback and former teammate Vernon Adams Jr. NCAA rules mandate a half-game suspension, but Baldwin elected to increase the penalty, meaning that Kreifels will not make the trip to Northern Iowa. “Then we’ll see going into next week,” Baldwin said.
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