Eastern Washington Preview

The Eagles are coming off a 2001 season which they finished 7-4. That record marked their third straight wining season, and was commendable feat due to the fact that their squad was riddled by injuries. Nevertheless, the team facing ASU this Saturday evening will have a much different look.

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The 2002 version has only eight seniors on the roster. 18 of the total 24 starters from last season are lost. The Eagles offense, who led Division I-AA with 514 yards and 41.9 points per game, has lost a staggering 10 starters. At Quarterback Eastern Washington will feature Josh Blakenship, a transfer from Tulsa. In his three years as a starter there he passed for 5,273 yards, 21TD's and 31 INT's, while completing 52.5% of his passes. In his first ever spring scrimmage for the Eagles earlier this year, he passed for 450 yards, 65% completion, seven TD's, no INT's. Running Back Jovan Griffith leads the rushing attack. During his career at EWU he has rushed for 2,190 yards and scored 20 TD's in 20 games. His junior season was cut short by injury, but the team benefits from having a 1,000-yard rusher in their lineup, which as mentioned is lacking experience.

Justin Nipp is the only starting offensive returner at Right Tackle. At Wide Receiver All-Big Sky honorable mention Kyler Randall will be counted on in the passing game. As part of the regular rotation last season, he had 37 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns. He's also a threat on special teams returning two punts for a touchdown in 2001, and having a career punt return average of 14.2 yards. The other starter figures to be Peter Coombe who had seven grabs for 100 yards last season. Junior College transfer Joe Pierce is also projected as a starter. Starting at Tight End will be Dan Curley who has caught 31 passes for 472 yards and three touchdowns in 20 career games. The Eagles were the conference best in rushing offense, and third in passing offense.

The defensive unit is in slightly better shape, returning five starters. Brothers Luke and Doug Vincent anchor the defense at linebacker. Luke earned second team All-Big Sky honors finishing with 116 tackles. His brother Doug played only two games as a starter last year, and had 28 tackles. Three of the five returning starters are at defensive line, headed by Brandon Moore . The Defensive End who was an All-Big Sky honorable mention had 48 tackles and five sacks. Nose Tackle Dante Harrell had 26 tackles and four sacks. The secondary returns only one starter, Josh Artis with 39 tackles. Nevertheless, he'll be backing up John Jones and Jesse Hendrix at cornerback. In 2001 the EWU was 4th in the conference in rushing and passing defense, and finished 5th in total defense.

Head Coach Pull Wulff , who was the 2001 Co-Coach Of the year in the Big Sky Conference, looks forward to the challenge of coaching a team with some many new faces. "It's going to be interesting, and people think we'll rebuilding" he says, "We are because of age, but at the same time I think we'll be an awfully good club. Besides our new players, we have some other talented players back that people didn't get a chance to see much last season. This years' team can be outstanding."

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