WVU - EWU Game Preview

The Eagles of Eastern Washington make the cross country trip to take on the fifth-ranked Mountaineers. EWU also looks to fly home with a loss and a nice payday.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: First Meeting
Sat 9-8-06 1:00 pm
Morgantown, WV

Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 1-0
AP Rank: 6th AP
Last Game
Marshall 42-10 W

Rtn Lettermen: 48
Rtn Starters: 15
Click for College Park, Maryland Forecast
Record: 0-1
AP Rank: NR
Last Game
Oregon St. 17-56 L
Rtn Lettermen: 41
Rtn Starters: 14
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 2006
Last Meeting: n/a
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

None to date

Injuries:

WVU - Ridwan Malik Out (hip strain), Doug Slavonic Out (ankle), Damien Crissey - Out (foot sprain), Mike Villigrana - Doubtful (Back), Brandon Myles - Questionable (Concussion), Patrick White - Probable (Strained rib)

EWU - Chris Peerboom - Out (Concussion), Chris Carlsen - Out (Concussion), Nick Denbeigh - Probable (Hand).

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. EWU defense

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Game Info
WVU 1-0, 0-0
EWU 0-1, 0-0
Sat 9-8-06 1:00 pm
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: First Meeting
TV: None
Sagarin: WVU-19 EWU-122
Line: No Line
Stats & Trends
Eastern Washington will have its hands full this week trying to slow the Blue and Gold offense. Last week the Eagle defense struggled, allowing 483 yards of total offense to Oregon State.

The defensive until that will see the most work on Saturday will most likely be the Eagle secondary, trying to slow Pat White's laser crisp passing and Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt darting through the secondary.

Starting at cornerback will be Ira Jarmon (5-8, 190) and Denique Ford (5-9, 185). Jarmon and Ford will struggle to cover the tall and speedy Mountaineer wideouts. The duo combined for four stops last week and will need to improve those number to have a chance against WVU.

Manning the safety positions are Nick Denbeigh (5-10, 195) and Bryan Jarrett (5-11, 210). Denbeigh, a hard hitting senior, recorded three tackles last week while Jarrett added four.

Starting at rover will be Brandon Keeler (6-3, 215). The senior was the leading tackler last week with six stops and will need to have a huge game against the Mountaineers for the Eagles to have any chance at victory.

When asked about the Eagle secondary, head coach Paul Wulff responded, "I think our safety position is the best it's ever been at this university. We have some great players there. We feel very comfortable with one cornerback and need to develop one more, but I think our safeties are outstanding."

Starting at linebacker is Shea Emry (6-1, 220) and David Eneberg (5-11, 210). Eneberg, a senior co-captain, has been named Honorable Mention All-American and is one of the team's top defenders. Both linebackers look to spend most of their Saturday afternoon chasing after Slaton.

Manning the four defensive line positions will be Jason Belford (6-1, 240), Keith Grennan (6-4, 290), George Lane (6-2, 285) and Greg Peach (6-2, 230). This is an inexperienced group that managed only three tackles against OSU. Look for the Blue and Gold offensive line to dominate this defensive unit.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 14th in total offense (485.00 yds/game), 5th in rushing offense (312.00 yds/game) and 67th in passing offense (173.00 yds/game).

EWU (Div 1-AA) is ranked 92nd in total defense (483.00 yds/game), 84th in rushing defense (209.00 yds/game) and 93rd in passing efficiency defense (177.35 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. EWU offense

On offense the Eagles will look to establish the running game against the Mountaineers. After last week's game against OSU, Wulff commented on the need for improving the running game by stating, "We have to. Between Ryan and the rest of our running back corps, we have to have those guys really perform well for us. The running game really have a chance to be our strength, at least for the first few weeks as we develop and allow those younger, inexperienced players to mature a bit."

Starting at tailback for the Eagles will be senior Ryan Cole (6-1, 220). Cole managed only 29 yards on 13 attempts last week, while recording 879 yards last season.

In two-back formations Alexis Alexander (5-10, 225) will man the fullback position. Alexander's main purpose is blocking -- he will probably get few carries against WVU.

In the absence of injured Chris Peerboom (6-3, 210), Matt Nichols will man the controls. Nichols, after taking over for Peerboom last week, completed 9-18 passes for 117 yards and one interception. Nichols is inexperienced and will having problems figuring out WVU's 3-3-5 stack defense.

In their three-receiver set the EWU will start Aaron Boyce (6-2, 205), Tony Davis (5-9, 185) and Tyler Coleman (5-11, 170). Boyce and Davis, both freshman, combined for seven receptions for 63 yards last week while Coleman, a junior, hauled in one pass. Coleman caught 22 passes for 330 yards last season.

Starting in the interior of the offensive line will be Matt Alfred (6-3, 300), Charlie Wulff (6-0, 2750 (replacing the injured Chris Carlsen), and Harrison Nikolao (6-2, 295). Alfred has been selected as a Pre-Season All-American in Div-1AA. He was also first team All Big Sky conference a season ago.

Starting at the tackles will be Rocky Hanni (6-5, 290) and Zach Wasielewski (6-4, 280). Hanni, who earned 2006 Pre-Season All-American honorable mention is a third-year starter while Wasielewski has yet to earn a letter in his career.

When asked about the progress of the offensive line, head Coach Wulff stated, "I think there is potential to be really good, but to be honest, they have yet to prove that they are really good. It's all based on speculation and returning veterans with experience. They have not gelled and they have not had the opportunity to really do great things yet. And this season we need them to and we are really hoping they develop into a fine unit. Ultimately we need them to help us win ballgames."

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 60th in total defense (322.00 yds/game), 79th in rushing defense (154.00 yds/game) and 63rd in passing efficiency defense (124.55).

EWU (Div 1-AA) is ranked 98th in total offense (128.00 yds/game), 101st in rushing offense (-14.00 yds/game) and 54th in passing offense (140.00 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. EWU special teams

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Tailgating
The Eagles started out the season with a bang on special teams last week with a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tony Davis against Oregon State. Davis (5-9, 185), a redshirt freshmen out of Olympia High School has speed to burn and is a dangerous weapon on special teams.

Returning kickoffs along with Davis will be Jesse Hoffman (6-2, 205), a true freshmen. Hoffman had two returns against Oregon State for 25 yards.

Handling the punting duties will be Ryan Donckers (6-0, 215). The returning letterman recorded eight punts last week for an average of 33.9 yards, with three landing inside the 20 yard line. Donckers averaged 39 yards per punt last season, while having one kick blocked.

Senior Sheldon Weddle (6-1, 195) gets the starting nod at placekicker. Weddle was good on his only attempt last week, a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter. Last season the Washington native was 11-17 in field goals, with a long of 48 yards.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 32nd in net punting (38.00 yds/punt), 24th in kick returns (24.50 yds/return) and 63rd in punt returns (5.00 yds/return).

EWU (Div 1-AA) is ranked 91st in net punting (22.75 yds/punt), 51st in kick returns (19.33 yds/return) and second in punt returns (60.00 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Jeremy Bruce

On Defense: Jay Henry

Totally Useless Facts:

  • The Eastern Washington Eagles have won four Big Sky Conference championships since 1992 (1992, 1997, 2004, 2005).
  • 2005 senior signal caller Erik Meyer won the 2005 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network. The Payton Award goes to the top player in NCAA I-AA.
  • Eastern was established in 1882 as the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy.

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!

Prediction:

There's not much to say about this one, except for, "Thanks Buffalo". Last week the Eastern Washington Eagles imploded in the first quarter against Oregon State and were down 28-0 before the crowd settled in their seats. It is hard to get a read on the Eagles from that performace becuase they were obviously taken out of their game plan early. Look for EWU to try and establish a running game early in order to make their inexperienced quarterbacks more comfortable in the hostile environment.

On the other side of the field look for the Mountaineers to take an early lead allowing Rich Rodriguez to gain some experience for guys down on the depth chart.

WVU - 48 EWU - 10


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