CHENEY – Intangibles – and there will be many of them Saturday at Roos Field – are just that.
None of them will make a tackle or throw a key block in Eastern Washington’s FCS semifinal game against Towson.
As Tigers coach Rob Ambrose said: “That’s for guys with pens and computers.”
It’s also for fans, who are fond of discussing everything from the weather (snow is possible) to the 11 a.m kickoff to the Eagles’ hefty playoff experience compared with Towson’s.
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And, of course, they feel the need to bring up the Eagles’ semifinal loss last year to Sam Houston State – the product, more than anything, of an abysmal start.
As if the Eagles wanted to trail 35-0 at halftime.
“It wasn’t a lack of focus,” Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said. “I think if anything, we were wanting to press and make plays.”
Against a confident, road-tested Towson team that thrives on adversity, the Eagles (12-2) will have to make plenty of plays to advance to the FCS championship game against North Dakota State, which beat New Hampshire 52-14 Friday night.
A few keys:
• Bring enough helmets to the line of scrimmage to slow Towson’s superb running back, Terrance West.
• Limit the open-field running opportunities of quarterback Peter Athens.
• Win the battle on the edge for Eagles running back Quincy Forte.
• Limit mistakes, or at least stay even in the turnover battle.
West, the leading rusher (2,295 yards) and scorer (38 TDs) in the nation, is priority No. 1 for the Eagles defense, which two weeks ago shackled South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner and forced a running team to throw.
“He’s (West) one of the best running backs I’ve seen since I’ve coached at this level,” Baldwin said. “He’s very effective inside, but he can hit home runs.”
West can expect a variety of blitzes, which also should limit the options for Athens. Towson (12-2) already has lost top receivers Leon Kinnard and Spencer Wilkins to injury.