Oregon Football Preview: Eastern Washington Eagles Look For Upset At Autzen


Former Eastern Washington Eagles quarterback Vernon Adams is no doubt helping Oregon Ducks coaches with their gameplan against his former team as these bird schools open the 2015 college football season against each other on September 5th. While Adams was the biggest name to leave the Eagles in the off-season, EWU still has the Big Sky Conference preseason MVP in receiver Cooper Kupp.

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Kupp certainly benefitted from having Adams at QB the last few years. He already has six FCS all-time receiving records, one additional Big Sky Conference record, and five more school records on top of that. His marks make sense when you consider this: his grandfather, Jake Kupp, played on the New Orleans Saints with Archie Manning. Using that connection, Kupp has been a counselor and coach at the Manning Passing Academy summer camp for the past three years. I’d be a pretty good receiver too if Peyton and Eli were critiquing my route-running ability and winging passes to me every summer.

Redshirt freshman Simba Walker hasn’t had that sort of help, but he’s turning heads in camp, with nearly 200 yards receiving during the last scrimmage. His twin brother Nzuzi is a cornerback for the Eagles, and as good as the EWU receivers are, the Ducks may be able to capitalize on a defense going through a lot of changes.

The Eagles have a new defense coordinator in Jeff Schmedding, who is installing a 4-2-5 (that’s playing a “nickel”- five defensive backs- every snap instead of just obvious passing downs). The intention is to make the Eagles D faster to try and counter their size. Webster, for instance, is 5’10”, and none of the corners are listed as taller than 6’2”. Head coach Beau Baldwin knows the D must figure things out in a hurry. “Oregon’s not going to wait for that defense to line up, that’s a reality,” Baldwin told the Spokane Spokesman-Review after their first practice of the fall.

As for the new QB, right now it seems like redshirt junior Jordan West, a former walk-on, will be the man on September 5th. When Adams got hurt last year, West started four games and went 3-1, finishing the season with over a thousand yards passing, the majority those coming in his four starts. He threw nine TDs (his first-ever collegiate pass was for a score against Sam Houston State) and just one interception. In the Eagles most recent scrimmage, West went 10-15 for 131 yards with the first-team offense and appears to have the job locked down.

The Eagles are co-favorites with Montana State to win the Big Sky. EWU went 11-3 last season to win the conference for the third straight year and lost in the FCS playoffs. They would probably prefer to start the season against anybody but their former quarterback, but it makes for a much more intriguing matchup than anyone could have bargained for.

Oregon and Eastern Washington take to the field at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, September 5th at 5pm Pacific Time on Pac-12 Networks.

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