His players were still departing Roos Field on Friday morning when Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin turned his public attention to Washington State.
Not that he had any choice: With the season opener in Pullman just eight days away, the media wanted some insight.
Baldwin offered a few tidbits gleaned from a few hundred hours of film study – mainly that WSU looks better across the board than in seasons past.
“We’ve seen improvement in a lot of areas,” Baldwin said. “It’s a pretty long list … that’s a compliment to Coach (Mike) Leach and his staff.”
Eastern’s most recent benchmark is a 24-20 loss in Pullman back in 2012. The Cougars went 3-9 that year as Leach began a tough rebuilding job, while EWU rebounded to go 12-3, win the Big Sky Conference title and get within three points of a berth in the FCS title game.
Times have changed. EWU is coming off a 6-5 season, while the Cougars have high expectations after going 9-4 and beating Miami in the Sun Bowl.
“When you put them on film, that’s a bowl-type Pac-12 team, and there’s no reason they can’t be again,” Baldwin said. “To me they’re a high-win team.”
Eastern faces several challenges next week, the biggest one slowing down quarterback Luke Falk. As if that’s not enough, the Cougars could give Eastern’s smallish defensive line a heavy dose of run. Not coincidentally, WSU ran the ball 30 times in the 2012 meeting.
Baldwin saw similarities in the teams’ offensive schemes, but added that “it will come down to who executes that scheme.”
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