#6 Eastern Washington FCS Football 2012 Preview

Eastern Washington Eagles

Overall Rank: #6
#2 Big Sky
Eastern Washington FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Eastern Washington Team Page


Eastern Washington’s 2011 campaign was well documented…at least at first when they lost their first four games. But those were all tough games, coming at Washington, at South Dakota, at Montana and finally a home game, a loss to Montana State. After that everybody stopped paying attention to the Eagles and by then the injury bug had hit pretty hard. But Coach Beau Baldwin pulled his team together, winning six of the last seven. As long as EWU can stay healthy, this is a group that will look at lot more like the 2010 version of the Eagles than the 2011.

2011 Record: (6-5, 5-3)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Beau Baldwin (33-16 at Eastern Washington, 43-19 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Aaron Best
Defensive Coordinator: John Graham

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jordan Talley, RB, 413 yards
Passing: Anthony Vitto, QB, 18 yards
Receiving: Nicholas Edwards, WR, 1,250 yards
Tackles: Ronnie Hamlin, LB, 85
Sacks: Jerry Ceja, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: T.J. Lee, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: LB J.C. Agen, S Allen Brown, DT Evan Cook, DE Paul Ena, G Steve Forgette, TE Zach Gehring, WR Greg Herd, WR Brandon Kaufman, LB Zach Johnson, LB Cody McCarthy, S Jeff Minnerly, OT Will Post

Key Losses: WR Ashton Clark, CB Alden Gibbs, OT Gabriel Jackson, K Mike Jarrett, S Matt Johnson, DE Anthony Larry, QB Bo Levi Mitchell, DT Charles Moetului, C Chris Powers, DT Renard Williams

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is gone after throwing for 4,009 yards and 33 touchdowns his senior season. Presumably EWU’s top ranked passing game would take a step back after losing a Walter Payton Award winner, but Kyle Padron is ready to keep up the pace. Padron spent a couple years throwing the ball around at SMU before suffering an injury and opting to transfer to Eastern Washington. Padron is a big 6-4 signal caller who has plenty of experience in a pass happy offense like the one in Cheney. He will have some great wide receivers to work with as well. Nicholas Edwards is the most heralded of the bunch after catching 95 passes for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago. Greg Herd added 67 receptions for 1,022 yards and seven scores. As if those two were not potent enough wide receivers, Brandon Kaufman also returns after playing in just four games in 2011. In those four games he caught 29 passes for 373 yards. Kaufman is one of a few key offensive players that missed time last year, but the major injury problems were on the offensive line. Coach Baldwin was forced to make some drastic moves. Tight ends were moved to the offensive line and Brandon Murphy was moved from the defensive side of the ball in the middle of a game to provide depth on the line. But now linemen Ashton Miller, Jase Butorac and Steven Forgette are back from injury. With Will Post returning at tackle and a bevy of younger players who filled in for the injured linemen now experienced, this is suddenly a very deep unit. That should be good news for running backs. Sophomore Jordan Talley had the most productive season, rushing for 413 yards and five touchdowns, but Quincy Forte, Mario Brown and Demitrius Bronson all started at least one game in 2011 and will battle Talley for carries.

The defense was where this team struggled, but there is good reason to believe the unit will be much better this season. They cannot get much worse. The rush defense was non-existent, ranking 110th in nation. Even with the loss of tackles Renard Williams and Charles Moetului, the line should be better. Ends Paul Ena and Jerry Ceja are capable pass rushers and Evan Cook has plenty of starting experience at tackle and Andru Pulu could make a big impact after transferring in from Washington. Ronnie Hamlin, J.C. Agen and Cody McCarthy are back as the returning starters at linebacker, but the biggest returnee is Zach Johnson. Johnson missed all of the 2009 campaign with a knee injury and missed much of the 2011 campaign with the same injury. If healthy, Johnson will be the leader of a very experienced group. The secondary played pretty well in 2011 and they should remain a defensive strength with cornerback T.J. Lee and safeties Jeff Minnerly and Allen Brown.

The Bottom Line:
Eastern Washington faces another tough schedule that starts out with two FBS teams on the road, followed by a road trip to Weber State. The opener on the red turf is against a tough Montana squad, so there is a chance the same thing that happened last year can happen this season. A trip to Montana State a couple weeks later could spell the end of the Eagles playoff hopes should they struggle early again. But this is a new year and a new team which, for now, is healthy and more experienced than the squad that reeled off six wins in their last seven games of 2011.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 79.00 (112th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 368.36 (1, 1)
Total Offense: 447.36 (6, 1)
Scoring Offense: 32.36 (22, 3)
Rushing Defense: 213.18 (110, 8)
Pass Defense: 198.73 (43, 3)
Total Defense: 411.91 (101, 6)
Scoring Defense: 30.18 (87, 6)
Turnover Margin: -.18 (65, 4)
Sacks: 2.36 (31, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.45 (77, 6)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#5 Jordan Pulu
#25 Dalis Bruce
#52 Diamonte Wiggins