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Sports >  EWU football

‘It’s all in motion right now’: Eastern Washington’s matchup against Florida delayed as Hurricane Ian draws closer

Sept. 27, 2022 Updated Tue., Sept. 27, 2022 at 9:37 p.m.

Eastern Washington receiver Freddie Roberson, left, scampers into the end zone two paces ahead of Montana State defender Simeon Woodard for a touchdown Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 at Roos Field in Cheney, Washington.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Eastern Washington receiver Freddie Roberson, left, scampers into the end zone two paces ahead of Montana State defender Simeon Woodard for a touchdown Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 at Roos Field in Cheney, Washington. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

For all the Eastern Washington players who grew up wanting to play football on Sundays, this week looks to be their chance.

“We made a couple jokes in the locker room about that,” EWU wide receiver Freddie Roberson said Tuesday during the team’s media availability. “It’s just going to be fun to play on Sunday instead of Saturday.”

That 24-hour delay, announced Tuesday morning, pushes the Eagles’ game against the Florida Gators in Gainesville to 9 a.m. Sunday. The game will air on ESPN-plus.

The move was announced as Hurricane Ian bears down on the western coastline of the Florida peninsula. Forecasts predict it will make landfall Wednesday and then proceed northeast across the state.

Eastern Washington originally planned to fly to Florida on Thursday, but as of Tuesday those plans were in flux.

“It’s all in motion right now,” EWU coach Aaron Best said. “Tuesday and Wednesday are not going to change (but) Thursday, Friday and Saturday will change – in what capacity, to be determined.”

Regardless, Roberson said the team hoped to use the extra day productively.

“Even just having that extra day to work and prepare, another day to watch film,” Roberson said. “We’re going to try to make the most of the opportunity.”

Eastern Washington (1-2 overall, 0-1 Big Sky) dropped to 20th in this week’s FCS Stats Perform Top 25 after losing 38-35 to fourth-ranked Montana State. That loss came two weeks after the Eagles lost 70-14 to Oregon, making this weekend’s game the Eagles’ second against an FBS school. It is also the program’s first against a program from the Southeastern Conference.

The unranked Gators (2-2) are coming off a 38-33 loss to Tennessee, which moved up to No. 8 in the AP Top 25 this week.

That Eastern already played a Power Five school gives the Eagles a bit better understanding of what they’re getting into against the Gators, Roberson said.

“Even the environment of it all, because not a lot of FCS teams get an opportunity to play against these types of teams,” Roberson said. “Having (another) opportunity definitely does give us a slight edge, because we kind of know what’s coming. … We’re looking forward to this game.”

Eastern is set to receive $750,000 for playing the game, which was originally scheduled for the 2020 season. The programs rescheduled it when the Big Sky and SEC altered their schedules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many players on the EWU roster played in that shortened 2020-21 season, and Best has leaned on that experience as he encouraged the team “to be mentally agile” this week.

After all, they can’t control the weather.

“I’ve got to be where my feet are,” Best said. “This team’s got to be where their feet are.”

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