#4 Eastern Washington FCS Football 2015 Preview

Eastern Washington Eagles

Overall Rank: #4
#1 Big Sky

Eastern Washington Team Page#4 Eastern Washington FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Eastern Washington Football Tickets

Eastern Washington picked up their third straight Big Sky title last year and again reached the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs. They ran into the potent offense of Illinois State and left the playoffs earlier than hoped, but the Eagles had another big season led by the top scoring offense in the FCS. Coach Beau Baldwin has some massive holes to fill and a brutal schedule ahead of him, but this is a team that has the talent to win another conference title.

2014 Record: 11-3, 7-1
2014 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Beau Baldwin (67-25 at Eastern Washington, 77-28 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Aaron Best, Zak Hill
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Schmedding

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jalen Moore, RB, 378 yards
Passing: Jordan West, QB, 1,072 yards
Receiving: Cooper Kupp, WR, 1,431 yards
Tackles: Miquiyah Zamora, LB, 102
Sacks: Samson Ebukam, DL, 7.5
Interceptions: Todd Raynes, DB, 3; Victor Gamboa, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Shaq Hill, OL Clay DeBord, OL Aaron Neary, DB Jake Hoffman, K Tyler McNannay

Key Losses: QB Vernon Adams, RB Quincy Forte, RB Mario Brown, OL Jake Rodgers, OL Jase Butorac, LB Ronnie Hamlin, LB Cody McCarthy, DB Tevin McDonald, P Jake Miller

Of course the big departure is quarterback Vernon Adams, who will play at Oregon this season. Jordan West is the heir apparent. Last year he threw for 1,072 yards and nine touchdowns, most of which came when Adams was injured for a few games. West went 3-1 as a starter and that little bit of experience has turned out to be quite important heading into 2015. Gage Gubrud and Reilly Hennessey are inexperienced quarterbacks, but both have big arms and can lead the offense if West struggles. The quarterbacks will have some of the best wide receivers in the country to work with and that will certainly make the transition easier. Cooper Kupp caught 104 passes for 1,431 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. So far in his two-year career at EWU, Kupp averages a touchdown every 5.3 catches. Kendrick Bourne and Shaq Hill are also back. Those two caught 52 passes a piece and combined for 15 receiving touchdowns. Jalen Moore and Jabari Wilson will be asked to replace running backs Quincy Forte and Mario Brown. Both Moore and Wilson have proven to be capable backs, especially last year when Forte missed a few games. Even though the offensive line will miss Jake Rodgers and Jase Butorac, the unit will still be extremely talented thanks to the return of Clay DeBord and Aaron Neary.   

Four times last season the Eastern Washington defense allowed 50 or more points. This team is going to get involved in high scoring games, but asking the offense to score 60 points against the likes of Washington and Illinois State is a bit much. The hope is a switch to a 4-2-5 scheme will add more athleticism to help defend against the spread offenses that are so prevalent in the Big Sky. The secondary has plenty of talent to pull it off, especially at cornerback where Rashad Wadood, Victor Gamboa and Jake Hoffman all earned some starts in 2014. Hoffman will move to safety because of all of the depth. At linebacker, EWU will build around Miquiyah Zamora, who totaled 102 tackles last season. The line returns Samson Ebukam, who led the team with 7.5 sacks, and nose tackle Matthew Sommer. Redshirt freshman Jonah Jordan is a player to watch this year. He is expected to start opposite Ebukam on the end.

The Bottom Line:
The defense should be better, but the offense has some high expectations to live up to. They will still be one of the best offenses in the country, but 44.1 points per game is a tough number to replicate. A tough schedule will not help either. The Eagles open the season at Adams’ Oregon team before heading to Northern Iowa. Their final nonconference matchup, technically, is against Montana State. The slate also includes all of the toughest teams in the Big Sky. Many of those are at home though where EWU has lost just two regular season games since the red turf was installed prior to the 2010 campaign. Trips to Idaho State and Montana will be the tough games where Eastern Washington will likely need to at least pick up one win in order to make it four straight Big Sky titles.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 185.2 (39th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 328.2 (2, 2)
Total Offense: 513.4 (3, 2)
Scoring Offense: 44.1 (1, 1)
Rushing Defense: 175.4 (65, 4)
Pass Defense: 266.4 (109, 7)
Total Defense: 441.8 (95, 6)
Scoring Defense: 31.4 (90, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.57 (24, 4)
Sacks: 2.07 (58, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 3.21 (106, 12)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#55 Savion Simms
#68 Tristen Taylor
#132 Keenan Williams
#133 Ketner Kupp


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