We continue our week-by-week breakdown of Washington’s 2014 football schedule with a look at the Huskies’ Sept. 6 home opener against Eastern Washington, one of the nation’s foremost Football Championship Subdivision powers.
EASTERN WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON, Saturday, Sept. 6 (Kickoff time TBA)
STADIUM: The game, obviously, will be played at Husky Stadium. But in the interest of dispensing knowledge, EWU plays at Roos Field — known colloquially as “The Inferno,” a nod to its red turf — which seats 8,600 fans. Former EWU offensive lineman Michael Roos helped fund the field’s color change with a $500,000 donation in 2010, which is why the field now bears his name.
EWU LOCATION: Cheney, Washington (population 11,070)
MASCOT: The Eagles. Pretty simple.
2013 RECORD: 12-3 (8-0 in Big Sky). EWU won its third Big Sky championship in four seasons, then advanced to the NCAA Football Championship semifinals before losing 35-31 at home to Towson.
COACH: Beau Baldwin (56-22 in six seasons at EWU; 66-25 in seven seasons overall)
RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (6 on offense, 5 on defense, and the starting punter and long-snapper, according to the school)
KEY RETURNERS: QB Vernon Adams (Jr.) (2013 totals: 4,994 yards passing, 65.6 completion percentage, 55 TDs and 15 INTs. Also rushed for 605 yards on 132 attempts. Won Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year and finished second in voting for Walter Payton Award, which recognizes top FCS player); WR Cooper Kupp (So.) (93 catches, 1,691 yards and 21 TDs. Won Jerry Rice Award for best freshman in FCS); RB Quincy Forte (Sr.) (179 carries for 1,208 yards and 11 TDs); WR Shaquille Hill (Jr.) (38 catches, 790 yards, 9 TDs); LB Ronnie Hamlin (6th-yr Sr.) (140 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INTs); LB Cody McCarthy (Sr.) (115 tackles, 11 TFL, 3 sacks); DL Samson Ebukam (So.) (28 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks; named all Big Sky); OL Clay DeBord (Jr.); OL Cassidy Curtis (Jr.)
KEY LOSSES: WR Ashton Clark (83 catches, 1,233 yards, 10 TDs); DB T.J. Lee III (114 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 11 pass break-ups, 1 INT, 4 FF, 4 FR); DE Anthony Larry (61 tackles, 9 TFL, 5.5 sacks); DB Ronald Baines (52 tackles, 4 INTs); OL Steven Forgette; OL Ashton Miller; OL Brandon Murphy
2013 STATISTICAL RANKS: Keep in mind these are FCS rankings … 4th in Total Offense (533.5 ypg); 4th in Passing Offense (349.8); 41st in Rushing Offense (183.7); 104th in Total Defense (457.7); 115th in Passing Defense (277.1); 74th in Rushing Defense (180.7) (Here’s the full report.)
BIGGEST 2014 PRIORITY: The Eagles are well-stocked at the offensive skill positions, especially with all-everything quarterback Vernon Adams returning for his junior season, along with standout receiver Cooper Kupp. But EWU did lose three starting defensive backs and three starting offensive lineman, so those will be areas of necessary replenishment — and it’s not like the defensive backfield set the world on fire last season to begin with. They do have some depth at safety, with UCLA transfer Tevin McDonald returning for his senior season. But there will be new faces in new places in the back end of EWU’s defense, one way or the other.
SCHEDULE NOTES: EWU will play what is expected to be the first game of the college football season on Aug. 23 against Sam Houston State. It will be broadcast live on ESPN. The Eagles face Big Sky foe Montana State on Sept. 20, but it will not count as one of their eight scheduled conference games. Montana Western rounds out EWU’s nonconference schedule.
UW-EWU ROSTER TIES: Obviously, EWU’s roster is loaded with in-state players — 58 of them to be exact, and that’s just the spring roster, not including incoming freshmen. Sophomore DL Jordan Pulu is the younger brother of former UW DL Andru Pulu, who transferred to EWU after pleading guilty to felony assault in 2010. … OL Derek Weston spent his freshman season at UW, where he redshirted in 2010.
UW-EWU HISTORY: The teams have met just once, in 2011, when the Huskies eked out a 30-27 victory at Husky Stadium despite allowing Bo Levi Mitchell to throw for 473 yards (and despite being outgained 504-250). Mitchell’s final pass was intercepted in the end zone by Desmond Trufant with 29 seconds remaining.
EASTERN WASHINGTON’S BEST SEASON: Eastern Washington won its first national championship in 2010, finishing the season with a 13-2 record and beating the Delaware Blue Hens 20-19 in the championship game.
THIS IS INTERESTING: Since becoming a member of the FCS, the Eagles hold a 9-22 record against FBS programs. Their most recent victory was a 49-46 upset at Oregon State last season, and they stomped Idaho, 20-3, in 2012.
NOTABLE NON-FOOTBALL GRADS: Here’s a list assembled by the school. The highlights: Jess Walter (’87), acclaimed author of the very funny “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” among others; Colin Cowherd (’85), famed ESPN radio host; Scott Schaefer (’85), who won three Emmys for his writing work on Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple