Now just over halfway through spring practice, Eastern Washington is focusing on digesting newly-tweaked schemes and new terminology, sprinkled on top of a similar base defense from a season ago.
With new coordinators on both sides of the ball, offensive and defensive players are spending more time scouring over playbooks and focusing on studying film.
“I feel like this scheme we’re learning as a defense, it’s more relatable to our last scheme,” redshirt junior Ely Doyle said. “And, you know, me and us as a defense as a whole, we’re picking it up pretty good.”
Even with the new play calls making their way to the field, head coach Aaron Best said not to expect the changes to be earth-shattering, using the adage, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.
Or this case, just tweak it.
“We’re not going to stray too far away with the success we’ve had for a long period of time,” Best said.
Even so, the changes will need to be ironed out this spring, before the players break for summer.
It didn’t help that on Friday, the Eagles found four inches of snow burying Roos Field.
Spring football practice at its finest.
“You’re going to run into some of those situations, issues, problems, challenges, and turbulence,” Best said.
Other weather patterns in Cheney haven’t made for pristine conditions on the Inferno, but Monday’s weather was the best they have been able to experience on the field.
The practice schedule has been one day on the field, one day off, as the roster is keying in on its assignments and determining the proper alignments in the new playbooks.
While that has allowed the team to get more comfortable with its coordinators and their expectations, it limits the ability to deeply dissect specific positions, such as who will be quarterbacking the 2022 Eagles.
This doesn’t mean the Eagles don’t have notes on the five potential starters, they just haven’t been able to put them in specific situations or see them run full six-plus play drives – all vital in deciding the most impactful position on the field.
“Spring’s always kind of a little bit pragmatic with different combinations,” Best said. “We try to go practice, film, practice, film, for reasons more than just breaking the monotony up.”
Doyle, one of the Eags’ starting corners, has said the team has spent a lot of time getting comfortable with new coaches and new players while the schemes settle into place.
“I feel like, as a whole team, we’re coming together as one and the camaraderie, the chemistry (is increasing),” Doyle said. “As of right now, almost halfway through spring ball, we’re coming along very well, getting to know new schemes, and just figure out who we are as a team.”
At this moment, Doyle said the team is working to be in a position where they don’t have to think, just to play off their instincts. The hardest part of the spring practices is replicating what guys will experience on game day.
The split seconds the team can shave off their breaks and their decisions will decide football games this fall.
No matter how loud the music is or how hard they hit each other, nothing can mimic fall Saturdays.
“That doesn’t happen until Labor Day,” Best said. “As much as we want to simulate as much as possible, I think that’s kind of where we’re at. We’ve done a good job up to this point.”
“These guys are eager hungry and ready to be the best version of 2022 they can be,” Best said.
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