Eastern Washington Eagles Scouting Report

Get the low down on Griz/FCS Football
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BWahlberg
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Conference play is upon us and what a weekend this promises to be! In a series that’s been very intense of late Eastern Washington is coming town, they’ve won 5 of the last 6 games against the Griz. It’ll be a night game, and oh yeah… we’ll be starting RS Frosh Gresch Jensen at QB. All signs are pointing to tickets selling out today after a small group that was unclaimed by students has come up for sale… it’s going to be wild one in Wa Griz! Add in that we’ve got two teams who no one is really quite sure of yet. UM is 2-1 with two wins over inferior teams and getting crushed by a ranked FBS team. EWU is 1-2 with one win over an inferior(ish) team and a loss against Texas Tech and North Dakota State. This has lead to a lot of talk that EWU is better than their record suggests and UM is maybe not as good. We’ll find out Saturday night!

Eastern Washington Eagles 1-2

10-56 loss @ Texas Tech: EWU hung around in this game for a bit, it was 7-0 TTU at the end of the first and 21-10 until TTU tacked on a TD right before the half to make it 28-10. Then in the 3rd quarter TTU put EWU away scoring 21 points including a pick-6 TD. In the 4th TTU tacked on another score too. In this game EWU’s regularly dangerous offense was mostly contained, 80 rushing and 220 passing. They tossed 2 picks and lost a fumble, while TTU had no turnovers. TTU’s offense did what it always does, passed for about 450.

13-40 loss vs NDSU: After last years thrilling OT game where both NDSU and EWU put up about 450 yards of total offense, highlighted with tons of big plays the rematch in Cheney was about the total opposite. NDSU ground out the EWU defense, rushing for 375 yards and adding 155 passing as well to massively out-gain the Eagles who had just over 200 yards of total offense. NDSU held the ball for a staggering 42:40 of TOP, in the 4th quarter EWU had possession of 1:43 total and just 5:35 of TOP in the whole 2nd half. EWU tossed two more picks but also forced 2 NDSU fumbles.

56-21 win @ Fordham: Fordham I believe was ranked going into the season, now at 1-2 they’re not though. EWU finally got their offense going, passing for almost 400 and rushing for just over 250. The EWU defense had a much better day too, allowing just 26 rush yards on 44 attempts for Fordham and under 200 yards passing. Turnovers continued to haunt EWU though, 5 lost possessions on 3 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles.

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General Stats – going use 2017 numbers from here on out

Passing yards per game Montana (300 pass ypg vs 251 pass ypg)
Rushing yards per game EWU (134 rush ypg vs 121 rush ypg)
Total offense Montana (421 for the Griz vs 385 for EWU)
Passing yards allowed per game Montana (260 ypg allowed vs 265 ypg allowed)
Rushing yards allowed per game Montana (143 ypg allowed vs 193 ypg allowed)
Total defense Montana (403 ypg allowed vs 458 ypg allowed)

Montana 5 to EWU 1

Offense points scored Montana (36 vs 26.3)
Defense points allowed Montana (29.7 vs 39)
Turnover margin Montana (Griz are -2 while EWU is -7)
Fieldgoal % Push (Griz hit 100%, EWU 100%)
Punt Returns Montana (13.5 YPR vs 0 YPR)
Kick Returns EWU (25 ypr vs 18.1 ypr)
T.O.P. Montana (26:39 for UM and 23:44 for EWU)
Red Zone defense (touchdowns) Montana (allows TDs 58% while EWU allows 73%)
Red Zone offense (touchdowns) Montana (scores 92% while EWU scores 63%)
3rd down offense EWU (converts 40% of the time so 39% for UM)
3rd down defense EWU (allows 32% conversions, UM allows 38% conversions)

7 for UM, 3 for EWU, 1 push. Totals it to 12 UM, 4 EWU, 1 Push. But those 3rd down stats are very interesting that EWU has been more successful at both, despite having a far tougher opening 3 games than the Griz.

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Players to Watch:

#7 Nic Sblendorio, WR: Nic leads the team in catches this season so far and is one of two WRs with a scoring TD. He’s the top returner from last year’s offense too, he was the 4th best statistical WR in their group from a season ago when he had 401 yards and 3 TDs on the season.

#28 Antoine Custer Jr, RB: Custer returns as the main running back in EWU’s offense. Last season he lead the running backs with 461 yards and 5 TDs plus about 190 receiving and another TD. The only one last year to out-rush him was the QB. This year Custer again gets most of the carries, he’s got 123 on the ground, 60 receiving, and 2 total TDs, 1 rushing and 1 receiving. Watch for Custer on kickoffs as well.

#5 Nsimba Webster, WR: Webster (who has a twin brother that’s a defensive back) on the team is the leader in yards so far with 173, he’s maybe their bigger play guy, no TDs yet though. Last year Webster had just 65 yards but 2 TDs.

#2 Stu Stiles, WR: Stiles is one of EWU’s other returning WRs with good in game experience. They actually had a 3rd Terrence Grady, but he’s out with a broken collarbone. Stiles in 2016 accounted for 380 receiving yards and 2 TDs. So far this season he’s got 38 receiving yards, but I’d expect with the injury to Grady he may be more of a factor since it would seem Zach Eagle who subbed in for Grady wasn’t really a presence statistically against Fordham.

#13 Mitch Fettig, S: Fettig was selected as a pre-season all-conference player by Big Sky voters, the 6-1 200 pound junior already leads the team in tackles with 26. Last season Fettig had 97 tackles and lead the team with 4 interceptions and 9 pass breakups.

#4 Albert Havili, DE: This guy is a load at D-end, a possible NFL prospect too, he’s 6-2, 270 and has 4 sacks already this season and has almost approached what he had last season with 5 total then. He’s got 13 total tackles and is the only defender with statistically registered QB hits, with 2, last year he lead the team with 8.

#57 Dylan Ledbetter, DE: Opposite of Havili is Ledbetter who has 3 sacks already this season. He’s just about as big at 6-3, 260. In a backup role in 2016 he had 2.5 sacks then.

#59 Curt Calhoun, LB: Calhoun is tied for 2nd in tackles on the team with 19, he’s also forced 2 fumbles already this season and has 1.5 TFLs and 1 sack.

So I think that covers it for guys to watch…. Unless if you want to count….

#8 Gage Gubrud, QB: The 6-2, 205 pound reigning conference MVP and pre-season selected MVP again is easily the best player in the Big Sky. A dual-threat QB Gubrud can beat teams with his feet and with his arm. This season his stats suggest he’s been adapting to his new WR corps as he’s passing for just about 250 per game and has 5 picks to 4 passing TDs. He’s also one of the team’s biggest rushing threats, just about 100 on the ground and a team leading 3 TDs. Last season Gubrud was averaging 370 passing / 45 rushing per game and had 48 passing TDs / 5 rushing TDs to 14 interceptions.


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Keys to a Grizzly victory

1. Ground game and clock control. Despite his down stats I don’t think Gage Gubrud is any less of a threat than he was last season, he may have new WRs, but the guy is just as talented, if not more. Much like NDSU’s plan the Griz need to try to slow down the game with a healthy dose of Calhoun and Lee.

2. Continue that RZ efficiency. One should point out the two opponents we’ve had great success against probably tip the stats further than they actually are. However, if the Griz can continue this great success of turning RZ trips in touchdowns and not fieldgoals paired with the defense keeping teams from scoring TDs almost half the time, it’ll go a long ways for a Grizzly win.

3. Ease Gresch into the game. I’ve heard the talk, “he’s not an ordinary RS Frosh,” and we’ve seen great results, plus he’s played meaningful snaps every game so far this year. However throwing him into this game, in this environment, might lead to some jitters. The ground game needs to keep things moving so Gresch can comfortably work his way in with safe throws as he builds confidence through the game.

4. Tighten up the pass defense. Each game we’ve seen improvements but still some stuff that’ll stand out for EWU to attack. The Valpo game showed more deep shot vertical TDs. The UW game showed improvement there but open field tackling issues. The SSU game had flashes of moments with real soft coverage (especially on 3rd down) that allowed for some easy completions. This will be a tough blend to ask but the Griz pass D needs to obviously take away the vertical deep shots first and try not to play so far off their man on 3rd down especially. I’d suppose if they had to really just resort to one, don’t get beat deep and keep all the passes in front of you.

5. 3+ forced turnovers. Seems like EWU (especially Gubrud) is forcing the issue a little more and that’s resulting in more turnovers. Even in their big output win over Fordham they had 5 turnovers. The Griz need to keep that rolling and stop multiple EWU drives with turnovers.

6. Contain and pressure Gubrud. I don’t think we can totally shut him down but I believe the Griz have seen and proven a way to get under his skin a bit. Obviously we need to keep a spy on him or make sure the middle lanes are closed off so he can’t just take off running up the middle of the field. Additionally Buss, Strahm, Vika, Schye, and Rodriguez need to HIT this guy and make him feel some punishment. In 2015 that worked really well.

7. 40+ points for the offense. I just feel like we can’t expect to keep the best lid on EWU. Putting up a big score will help ease the pressure off the defense for having to continually perform the whole game.

8. 3rd down success. Honestly a big concern of mine looking at the stats. EWU against mostly superior opponents has had better success converting and stopping 3rd down conversions than Montana has against 2 fairly poor opponents. The Griz need to reverse this trend or they’ll see EWU in scoring territory all night long and find our own RZ trips hard to come by. If the Griz lose this game I wouldn’t be surprised if we go back and see that 3rd down conversions, going both ways, was the biggest difference maker.
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New QB, night game, bitter opponent coming to town, sell-out crowd… this one is a big game for all involved. The Griz want to get back at EWU and start conference 1-0 and jump into a 2 game road trip at 3-1. Meanwhile EWU most certainly doesn’t want to drop to 1-3 to start the season as that would really put them in a pinch if the post season is their goal.

I’m still torn on who wins this game. I loved the way this team was coming together with Phillips and the timing of his injury is just awful. I’m confident Gresch can do plenty of good things… it’s just he’s had very little time for prep and work to jump into a game like this. I’ll say this… if the Griz can hit most of the points I’ve discussed above and especially be more efficient on 3rd down than EWU I see them winning in a 42-38 type of fashion. However if the Griz show inconsistency and stumble on 3rd downs then I see EWU coming away with a multiple score win, maybe something like 52-31.

This is a big game Griz Nation! Let’s get out and support our team!

GO GRIZ!!
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AZDoc
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FINALLY! kidding...thanks a lot as usual
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Stupid Tapatalk cuts off a lot of the first post [emoji35]
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BWahlberg
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Fahque wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:11 pm
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Stupid Tapatalk cuts off a lot of the first post [emoji35]
Tapatalk hates how verbose I am
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grizzcabin
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Montana's 12% 3rd down conversation rate against UW skews the percentage alot.
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Brint, I am a fan of your scouting reports. I would like to add that in the win against Fordham the EAGS had 10 sacks.
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In 2012, EWU beat us on their turf with redshirt freshman Vernon Adams. This year, I hope we get payback on our turf with our own redshirt freshman. :thumb:
2012 UM Alumnus
Total Home Games attended: 81 and counting...
Total Road Games attended: 13 ('07 State, '08 EWU, '08 NC, '14 UW, '14 EWU, '15 PSU, '15 NDSU, '16 EWU, ‘17 UW, ‘17 PSU, ‘17 ISU, ‘17 WSU, ‘17 State)
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grizzcabin wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:05 pm
Montana's 12% 3rd down conversation rate against UW skews the percentage alot.
How about that 4th down conversion % though! :lol:
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get'em_griz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:23 pm
In 2012, EWU beat us on their turf with redshirt freshman Vernon Adams. This year, I hope we get payback on our turf with our own redshirt freshman. :thumb:
Still can't believe that. Over 400 yards rushing and we find a way to lose.
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GoldenEagle wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:09 pm
Brint, I am a fan of your scouting reports. I would like to add that in the win against Fordham the EAGS had 10 sacks.
Do you think some of those are due to QB being slow to get rid of the ball?
In your opinion how should EWU defense attack Jensen?
Last is 55% competition by Gabe and INT one every 10 completions going to be good enough to win in Missoula?
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Htowngriz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:37 pm
get'em_griz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:23 pm
In 2012, EWU beat us on their turf with redshirt freshman Vernon Adams. This year, I hope we get payback on our turf with our own redshirt freshman. :thumb:
Still can't believe that. Over 400 yards rushing and we find a way to lose.
I may never get over that game.

Up there with a few others. We HAD them dead to rights. Ugh.
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I just had to repost this because it is what EWU means to me.

"Ewu": What California girls say when something icky is on their face.
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If the defense allows 40 we had better lose Semore. No way that should happen with their losses on offense and our secondary and returning LBs.

I'm calling a win, offense will get into a groove, just gotta be ready to counter those DE's and keep the pace. I see a 42-35 win and more griping about our poor defense.


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BWahlberg
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GoldenEagle wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:09 pm
Brint, I am a fan of your scouting reports. I would like to add that in the win against Fordham the EAGS had 10 sacks.
Oh man, yep, forgot to mention that. Seemed like EWU's pass rush and attack on the QB really finally showed up.
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Thanks BW, good stuff as usual. I agree with #6, containing Gubrud is huge. We will see if Semore and Co have it planned right, and if they can make in game and half time corrections. I can see the Griz putting up 41, the question, can the D keep Gubrud contained?
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I say throw Jensen into the fire. I bet he responds like a boss.
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griz5700 wrote:I say throw Jensen into the fire. I bet he responds like a boss.
I agree. Even if he has a tough game, I bet he responds well and come out better for it.

The training wheels are off, not just him but EVERYONE. It's Stitt's third season and we are in conference play, time to get it done.


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get'em_griz
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brewskis wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:29 pm
griz5700 wrote:I say throw Jensen into the fire. I bet he responds like a boss.
I agree. Even if he has a tough game, I bet he responds well and come out better for it.

The training wheels are off, not just him but EVERYONE. It's Stitt's third season and we are in conference play, time to get it done.


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Exactly what Stitt has been saying!
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Total Home Games attended: 81 and counting...
Total Road Games attended: 13 ('07 State, '08 EWU, '08 NC, '14 UW, '14 EWU, '15 PSU, '15 NDSU, '16 EWU, ‘17 UW, ‘17 PSU, ‘17 ISU, ‘17 WSU, ‘17 State)
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uofmman1122 wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:58 pm
Htowngriz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:37 pm
get'em_griz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:23 pm
In 2012, EWU beat us on their turf with redshirt freshman Vernon Adams. This year, I hope we get payback on our turf with our own redshirt freshman. :thumb:
Still can't believe that. Over 400 yards rushing and we find a way to lose.
I may never get over that game.

Up there with a few others. We HAD them dead to rights. Ugh.
Me either. We were there...that one really hurt.
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grzz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:44 pm
uofmman1122 wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:58 pm
Htowngriz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:37 pm
get'em_griz wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:23 pm
In 2012, EWU beat us on their turf with redshirt freshman Vernon Adams. This year, I hope we get payback on our turf with our own redshirt freshman. :thumb:
Still can't believe that. Over 400 yards rushing and we find a way to lose.
I may never get over that game.

Up there with a few others. We HAD them dead to rights. Ugh.
Me either. We were there...that one really hurt.
That game was brutal. The only thing that saved me was going back to Missoula from Cheney the next morning for Pearl Jam. Hearing a rumor BTW that PJ will be playing Wash-Griz next fall! If anyone cares besides me lol.
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