Eastern Washington held its first scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday. The weather was a bit of a problem, at least for those of us watching. The wind was pretty fierce, snow fell at one point and I definitely couldn't feel my hands for a large portion of the practice.
Anyway, on to the football. Head coach Beau Baldwin downplayed the scrimmage aspect, saying it was more of a live session.
Each quarterback (Vernon Adams, Anthony Vitto, Jordan West) each got at least one possession, with Adams getting three. The first two times Adams got on the field, his squad went three-and-out, but Baldwin said not to read too much into that. He was trying to get the running game going and didn't put Adams in a position to succeed.
Adams did lead a touchdown drive on the final possession, with the key play being a long pass to Cory Mitchell. Eastern Washington distributed stats that have Adams as 5-for-8 for 54 yards.
Here are some quotes.
Head coach Beau Baldwin
On what he saw in first scrimmage: Just some inconsistencies that we have to clean it up. That's always the case this early. This is more of still a practice where we did some live at the end. This to me, isn't a scrimmage, so to say. I know it's listed as that. Next week hopefully will be a better test of certain things that we've improved a lot from a scrimmage standpoint. We'll have officials out here, how's our in between plays getting the calls in, how quick are we lining up, are we doing some of those things? There's obviously a lot of sloppiness that's not even close to game ready. But, I thought the guys turned it on considering, like you said, heavy wind and snow. They didn't just try to get through it. They may have made a lot of mistakes at different times, but their attitude and mentality was to get something done every play, which was good.
On the good and the bad: Not until I really watched the film. It's tough when I'm going, especially when I'm calling plays on offense. I'm so thinking about the next play, I'm not really seeing some of the stuff. Once I watch film, I'll bet I'll have answers for you in terms of there's some surprising, there's some good stuff, oh wow, there's some stuff we really have to clean up. Until then, it felt like a typical practice [number] five scrimmage. Few three-and-outs, few sloppiness, but a few drives we went down there and scored. We just need to clean some stuff up.
On quarterback Vernon Adams' play: I thought Vernon's had a very solid five days of practice thus far. That's how I look at it more. First two series I was really focusing on the run. He might end up with one or two incompletions, all a sudden it feels like a couple three-and-outs, but he hasn't run many plays yet. Then we were able to kind of get him in a rhythm with a little of that up-tempo. Went down and scored on that third series he took. Been very pleased with his progress. Obviously, different player and mindset then he had a year ago at this time. But the other quarterbacks, too, Anthony Vitto and Jordan West are doing some good things and coming along. And with some stuff that's a little new. More is thrown on their plate now than ever before in terms of the spring.
On running back Mario Brown: Excited for Mario coming back. I think the backs as a whole, again, there's some new stuff for them, too. So they're getting used to seeing things and where everything's hit and how things are run with certain terminology. Some of it's new for them. Yeah, it's fun. It's fun to see Mario back healthy out here. Obviously, with Quincy and Jabari and we get Bronson back, which allowed us to move a great football player like Talley over to defense. Hopefully make us better as a whole unit.
On how team is handling new stuff: I think better than the average. We have a smart group, we have a group that really studies the game and takes it seriously. We felt like this was a group we could do that with and it would be a [good] situation. Yeah, they're swimming with a lot of stuff, but there's a lot of groups that I've had in the past that maybe it wouldn't even look close to even this. They just couldn't handle it. So this group handles it well.
On defense: They had a couple key stops. Especially some of the older guys ... I thought they did a good job. Some of the young players just need some more reps, need more game reps. It's a different feel. All of a sudden you're out there and all the coaches are on the sideline and you're kind of on an island. You don't have someone coaching you right behind your back. So some of the young guys on defense are still swimming a little bit on a lot of formations, but it's new. It's the first time really they've been in that darn-near game atmosphere where they're getting stuff coming in from the sideline. They'll keep progressing, just like our young offensive guys, same thing, they just got to keep progressing.
Defensive lineman Dylan Zylstra
On defensive mindset: We came out here and we kind of, as a defense, got handled in Oklahoma. We knew we had to pick it up, so us older guys got them going before the scrimmage. I knew I had to come out there, make a play, make a statement for the younger guys to see. That's what a couple of us older guys did. We came out there and I think we came out on top as a defense.
On what needs to do as a defense: It starts in the spring. I know up front as a d-line, our identity is to grind. We grind and we keep going. We might get bumps and bruised, but it starts up front. For the people behind us to do good, we got to start doing good. It's all about intensity and motor. Our push this spring is second effort. We're not stopping, we're running, we're running until we can't run anymore.
On what he wants to see from defense in spring: I think as a veteran, I'd like to see our younger guys, and even our older guys, fighting more. Even if you're not doing it wrong. If you make a mistake, that's to be expected in spring. What I'd like to see, even if you make a mistake, to go 100 percent and make a play after learn from it in film the next day.
On the adverse weather: I didn't think it was too bad. I thought the sun was out this morning, so sun's out, guns out. My younger brother's in Iowa right now and they had to plow his field this morning, so you know what, I'm happy with this. A little flurry, now we're going to get in the warmth and relax.
On spring practice: As the spring moves along, we got a lot to work on. It's just exciting because we see how good we are right now, but we see how much better we can get. So that's where it's exciting. Every day we're getting better in the weight room if we're not practicing, in the training room. I just love to see our team come together as a family. Stuff that happens on the field, it may get a little heated sometimes, but in the end we're all family off the field. I think it's more special than ever is we're actually brothers. Pretty cool.
On what he sees from quarterback Vernon Adams: I see from Vernon, I'm impressed. I see him stepping him into more of a leadership role. He definitely is, I wouldn't say the class clown, but he's always the up in high spirits. We still love having him, that's what he brings to the table, but now it's less of that and more of leading because that's what he's got to do. We're looking to him as an offensive guy. As a position, the quarterback's the most important position on the field. It's one guy to rule them all. I'm really impressed with Vernon, I love the kid and I'm excited to see his progress.
Running back Mario Brown
On being back: It felt good to be back. Sat out last year. Healthy, ready to play. I'm back, I'm feeling good, I'm ready to play, make plays.
On the scrimmage: Always room to get better. Watch film on Monday, see what I did good, see what I can get better at. Just keep pressing.
On the new offensive personnel: Every year we have playmakers, some were more visible than others. We don't have the big three anymore. Definitely don't have Bo Levi or Taiwan Jones, if you want to talk about 2010, but we have playmakers -- Vernon Adams, Cooper Kupp, me, Quincy [Forte]. We have a lot of people on the offensive and defensive side. I think we're going to be good. We're in good hands. Coach Baldwin knows what he's doing and we trust him 100 percent.
On what offense needs to do rest of spring: Stay consistent. We don't have those big three anymore, so we kind of reworking things. We just got to stick with what Coach Baldwin has up his sleeve. We just got to keep pressing and eventually it will come together because it has again, time and time again it has come together whatever Coach Baldwin's put together. We just got to stay consistent, keep practicing and go with the game plan and we'll be OK.