JSU's opponent: 10 things to know about Eastern Washington
by Al Muskewitz
amuskewitz@annistonstar.com
Dec 11, 2013 | 3094 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eastern Washington Eagles running back Quincy Forte (22) needs only 59 yards for 1,000 for the season. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Colin Mulvany)
Eastern Washington Eagles running back Quincy Forte (22) needs only 59 yards for 1,000 for the season. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Colin Mulvany)
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1. Where is it? Eastern Washington University is located in Cheney, Wash., a suburb of Spokane. It's pronounced CHEE-nee, not CHAIN-ee. At 2,410 miles from the Jacksonville State campus, it will be the second-longest postseason trip the Gamecocks have taken for football, behind only Portland State in 1988 (2,580 miles).

2. What's their record? The Eagles are 11-2, went 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference and are seeded No. 3 in the FCS playoffs. They are the first Big Sky team since 2009 to go through the conference undefeated and win the league outright, and first non-Montana team to go through undefeated since 1999. They beat No. 13 South Dakota State in their first playoff game, 41-17, in 12-degree temperatures for their ninth straight win. They beat No. 25-ranked Oregon State of the FBS in their season opener.

3. Where do they play? Roos Field. It seats 8,600, but can be expanded to hold more than 11,000 for games like Montana. It was known as Woodward Field when opened in 1967, but was renamed in honor of major benefactors Michael and Katherine Roos. They got the ball rolling on financing the red turf project.

4. Who are their stars? QB Vernon Adams, WR Cooper Kupp, RB Quincy Forte, C Ashton Miller, CB T.J. Lee III, CB Bo Schuetzle, LB Ronnie Hamlin.

5. What type of offense? The Eagles run an up-tempo, no-huddle spread offense, but they're not wedded to the pass. Adams is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, ranking No. 1 in pass efficiency and No. 2 in total offense, setting Big Sky records for total yards (4,794) and touchdowns (51). Cupp set the FCS freshman record for catches (81), yards (1,468) and touchdowns (20). He has at least one touchdown catch in every game he has played. Forte, who wears the same number (22) as the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte (no relation), needs 59 yards for 1,000 this season. He ran for 202 yards last week.

6. What type of defense? The Eagles will play a 4-2-5, but sometimes slide the weak-side end to give a 3-4 look. They won't blitz a lot and will force teams work to move the ball down-field. Coach Beau Baldwin says not to get caught up in stats -- the Eagles have been in control of most of their games by halftime and substituted liberally. They have given up only six points in the third quarter in the last seven games and 16 in their last nine (50 all season).

7. What about traditions? New students ceremonially stroll through the Pillars of Hercules, recreating the arrival of students in the days they came to campus by train; ROTC cadets fire a 75mm Pack Howitzer after each Eagles touchdown; early in the morning of the first day of classes, the university president rings the bell on a 1905 one-room schoolhouse that harkens to the school's beginnings as a training school for future teachers; sledding down the hill behind JFK Library on dining-hall trays (very unofficial); the Eagles have a long-standing football rivalry with Montana for The Governors Cup and a recently developed five-sport rivalry with Portland State for The Dam Cup, named for the four dams commuters pass between the campuses; EWU teams have been known as "Eagles" since 1973, after 92 years as "Savages."

8. Ex-players in the pros? OT Michael Roos (Titans), CB Isaiah Trufant (Jets), CB-RB Taiwan Jones (Raiders), S Matt Johnson (Cowboys), QB Bo Levi Mitchell (Calgary CFL), QB Matt Nichols (Edmonton CFL), QB Erik Meyer (Spokane AFL). Colorado State head coach and former Alabama assistant Jim McElwain is a former EWU quarterback.

9. Famous alums? In addition to the NFL players, the school has produced ESPN host Colin Cowherd, LPGA player Kris Monaghan, 2006 Bassmasters Classic winner Luke Clausen, professional poker player Lee "The Flea" Watkinson, Edmonton Oilers co-owner Todd McFarlane (creator of the Spawn comic book series), 1992 Olympic gold medalist Launi Meili (rifle), Terry Langston, co-creator of "Pictionary."

10. Oddities? Red turf, installed in 2010; 75 percent of EWU graduates remain in Washington state; there are 84 EWU alums in Alabama (more than North Dakota and South Dakota).
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