Eastern Washington University quarterbacks shared the wealth and redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp was the main recipient Saturday (April 27) in the annual Red-White Spring Football Game at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern quarterbacks Vernon Adams, Anthony Vitto and Jordan West combined for 256 yards and four touchdowns in the final scrimmage of spring practice for the Eagles. Kupp, a 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., caught eight passes for 119 yards and two scores.
Senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin led the Eastern starting defense with five tackles for the defense, which held the offense to 105 net rushing yards on 35 carries (3.0 per carry). In all, the offense finished with five touchdowns and 361 yards on 76 total plays (4.8 per play) on another blustery day in Cheney.
Adams, the returning starter, completed 9-of-15 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and had a pass intercepted by senior cornerback Ronald Baines. Vitto, the team’s backup, was 10-of-15 for 72 yards and scored on an 8-yard run. West was 5-of-10 for 79 yards and had two TD tosses.
“Overall, I am happy with the progress we made this week,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “We had a nicer day Tuesday, and we executed really well Tuesday. We have been challenged more than ever having a new group developing timing with 20 to 25 mile winds. It adds to the challenge. It is not an excuse, but it makes it that much tougher (to get timing). Tuesday we had a calmer day, and we were able to get our timing down better. We have to play in all weather, but starting out (with high winds) has been a challenge. I was happy to see the progress we have made this week. We responded later in the scrimmage as opposed to declining (offensively).”
Junior running back Quincy Forte rushed for a team-high 49 yards, and senior Ashton Clark added four catches for 43 yards. Reserve linebacker Zachariah Storms led all tacklers with six in the “game” matching the Eagle offensive units (the “White”) against the defensive squads (the “Red”).
The offense scored three times in the first half, with each quarterback leading one TD drive each. Adams led the starting offense on a nine-play, 68-yard drive, capped by a 22-yard touchdown pass to Cory Mitchell. Vitto led the White on a seven-play, 25-yard red zone touchdown, with Vitto capping the drive with an 8-yard TD run. And on the final possession of the first half, West led the White on a 7-play, 62-yard drive, and found Terry Jackson for a 24-yard score.
In the second half, the White scored twice on a pair of red zone possessions that were both two-play, 27-yard drives. Both ended with TD catches for Kupp – first on a 27-yarder from Adams and the second on a 26-yard strike from West.
“I thought there were less unforced errors, and when there were plays being made, I saw that plays were being made,” said Baldwin. “You want the defense to break-up the first touchdown, but that was a great play by Mitchell. We don’t want to ever throw a pick, but that was a great play by Baines. I am okay when there are plays being made, and we move on to the next snap.”
The offense was coming off a scrimmage a week ago that was dominated by the defense. The defense finished with three interceptions, three sacks and had seven passes broken up on a blustery day at “The Inferno.” The offense finished with 44 rushing attempts and 44 passing attempts, but managed only 3.7 yards per play. They had 122 yards rushing and 201 passing on the day, and also had a few miscues on snaps from center.
The Eagles will practice three more times – April 30th at 4 p.m., May 1 at 4:30 p.m. and May 2 at 4 p.m. – before heading into the offseason. Eastern opens the 2013 season on Aug. 31 at Oregon State.
“It’s a challenge (having practices after the spring game),” added Baldwin. “Next week is going to be one of the toughest challenges for players and coaches. It has that final feel to it. The worst thing we can do is go through the motions. If we do that we should cancel practice, go lift weights and move on to summer. Even though we played our spring game, we still have some practices left. We are trying to get sharper at the things we are doing. We won’t add a bunch of plays, but we may add some things we want them to understand before break. We want to get sharper on what we are doing right now and cleaner so there is less thinking.”