Coach Mike Leach showed his team video of its Week 2 opponent, hoping the Cougars could adopt the body language and toughness of the Eagles.
PULLMAN — The team on the video screen had plenty of energy. They “flew around,” as coaches like to say. So Mike Leach noted to his Washington State players during film study that this is what they should look like, too — like Eastern Washington, the Cougars’ opponent Saturday at noon in the newly renovated Martin Stadium.
“As Coach Leach put it, this is how we want to play,” quarterback Jeff Tuel said. “This is how we should have played Thursday.”
They didn’t, and lost 30-6 to Brigham Young because of it. Leach has spent the week emphasizing mental toughness and positive body language, two things he felt his team lacked last week.
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Eastern (1-0), meanwhile, thrashed Idaho 20-3 in the Kibbie Dome.
“They’re definitely a respectable team, and you can’t overlook these guys,” Tuel said.
There’s also the matter of preparing for Eastern’s passing attack, which led the FCS division last season with 386.4 yards per game and isn’t expected to suffer much of a drop-off with another experienced quarterback at the helm and three tall, talented receivers.
The Eagles weren’t lights out, exactly. Quarterback Kyle Padron, a Southern Methodist transfer, completed just 13 of 33 passes in his first game as EWU’s starter, though his receivers dropped several balls and he still threw for 260 yards.
WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske said the Eagles run their offense out of a “10 personnel” base, employing four wide receivers in an attempt to spread the field and distribute the ball to different players, similar to Leach’s offensive style.
Receivers Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd each tallied more than 1,000 receiving yards last season, and with the 6-foot-5 Brandon Kaufman returning from injury this season, EWU possesses more size at receiver than most Pac-12 teams.
“I think that’s the strength of their offense,” Breske said. “Great size and great athleticism, and it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”
• Travel Information for Saturday’s game: Fans are encouraged to utilize state Route 271 and Highway 27 through the towns of Rosalia, Oakesdale, Garfield and Palouse to ease traffic on Highway 195. WSU Athletics and Pullman Transit are providing free Park and Ride services starting three hours before kickoff and 1 ½ hours after the game from the Pullman Aquatic Center, Living Faith Church and the intersection of Airport Road and state Route 270. More information is available at www.wsucougars.com/gameday.