Eastern Washington Football enters 2014 at number 6 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 12-3 (8-0) Big Sky Conference
The Eagles opened their season with an away game against FBS school Oregon State, a team many considered to be an up-and-comer in the competitive Pac 12 North – before the game, that is. Eastern won 49-46, and hopes flew sky-high in Cheney. A few weeks later, they lost back-to-back road games to Toledo and Sam Houston State. These were their only two losses of the regular season.
In the playoffs, Eastern made the National Semifinals for the second year in a row but ultimately fell in heartbreaking fashion to National Runner-up Towson, 34-31.
-Ashton Miller C – First team FCS All-American
-Ashton Clark WR – Second team All-Big Sky, 83 receptions, 1,233 yards, 10 TDs
-TJ Lee III CB – First team All-Big Sky, 114 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 4 FF, 4 FR, 1 INT
-Bo Schutzie DB – First team All-Big Sky special teams, 28 tackles, 3 INTs
What to Watch For
Starters Lost – Four Eastern Washington football players were named to the All-American team. Center Ashton Miller (first team) and corner TJ Lee (second team) are gone, but the killer combo of redshirt sophomore receiver Cooper Kupp (first team) and junior quarterback Vernon Adams (second team) have at least one more year to light up Big Sky scoreboards.
Fourteen seniors from last season was at least an honorable mention on the All-Big Sky team, but they’re gone now. The Eagles had plenty of others named to the All-Conference teams though: Kupp, Adams, Clay DeBord, Quincy Forte, and Tevin McDonald all made first, second, or third team while Cory Mitchell, Shaq Hill, Cassidy Curtis, Dylan Zylstra, Evan Day, and Cody McCarthy were honorable mentions. It’s their team now.
In a conference long-dominated by Montana, the Eagles and coach Beau Baldwin laid their claim as the team of the future. Before 2010, Baldwin’s third year, the Eagles had won the Big Sky title outright one time, in 1997. Since 2010, they’ve won three conference titles and a National Title. Expect that conference title streak to continue.
QB Vernon Adams Jr will be back for his junior year after a 4,994-yard, 55-touchdown sophomore campaign. Experience at the most important position on the field is a huge advantage, especially when he’s got his top five rushers from last season back this year, as well as four of his top five receivers. The Eagles were the last team to win the National Championship before North Dakota State went on their three-season title run, and they could be the team to break the Bison streak this season.