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Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud wants to build on success

UPDATED: Tue., April 11, 2017

Eastern Washington coaches hope quarterback Gage Gubrud will run less this fall. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington coaches hope quarterback Gage Gubrud will run less this fall. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

This the second of an eight-part series on spring football at Eastern Washington. Today: the quarterbacks

Gage Gubrud may scramble less this year, but he’s not sitting still.

He’s also taking nothing for granted.

After a record-breaking sophomore year at Eastern Washington, Gubrud is still playing the sponge, soaking up everything he can from a new set of teachers.

“He’s always popping in at coaching meetings, sitting in my office and always trying to get better,” marvels new offensive coordinator Fred Salanoa.

“It’s a pleasure to coach someone who’s not only a great quarterback but also a good teammate,” Salanoa said. “He’s even helping the kid who’s pushing for his job.”

That would be Eric Barriere, a redshirt freshman with “all the promise in the world,” Salanoa said.

The addition of another redshirt freshman, Zane Jacobson, gives the Eagles three quarterbacks in spring camp – the same as last year – but times have changed for the better.

A year ago, Eastern entered spring ball coming off a 6-5 season and wondering who its next quarterback would be from among Gubrud, Jordan West and Reilly Hennessey.

The emergence of Gubrud and a young offensive line put those doubts to rest on opening day, when the Eagles upset Washington State 45-42 and went on to a Big Sky Conference title and a 12-2 record.

By the end of the season, Gubrud had passed for an FCS-record 5,160 yards and 48 touchdowns, with just 14 interceptions.

The All-American from McMinnville, Oregon, also rushed for a team-high 606 yards, a number that’s too high for head coach Aaron Best.

“I believe Coach Best when he tells that he doesn’t want me to be the leading rusher, but at the same time, if a game comes up where I have to run it 15 times, I love that too,” Gubrud said.

“We’re just going to do what it takes to win,” said the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder.

Some people believe the Eagles also could win a few games with Barriere, a three-star recruit from La Habra, California.

Speaking of Barriere and Jacobson, Salanoa said, “Our job here is to get these men up to the same level, and get Eric to be pushing Gage everywhere.”

With West graduating and Hennessey transferring to Central Washington in February, Barriere’s development is crucial. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has speed and a big arm, but needs some snaps, so expect him to get plenty of action in spring scrimmages.

Last fall, Barriere said he learned plenty by “just seeing Gage out there and watching him compete. That made me go even harder in practice.”

Barriere said that his goals this spring are the “keep working every day and focusing on getting better.”

For that reason, Gubrud said he’s taking nothing for granted.

Asked recently whether he feels comfortable as the starter, Gubrud said “We’re all just going out there and competing every day.”

Along with what Gubrud calls “a few tweaks,” the quarterbacks are getting a fresh perspective from new assistant Bodie Reeder.

Reeder spent the last three seasons working with quarterbacks at Oklahoma State. The former Eastern Illinois quarterback previously was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin-Stout from 2011-14.

Reeder takes over for Nick Edwards, now the receivers coach at Cal.

Barriere calls Reeder a “high-energy coach and a great mentor for the kids.”

“What he’s doing is very helpful, and I’m learning a lot,” Barriere said.

Coming up: part three, the wide receivers

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