Eastern Washington's first spring scrimmage felt more like a November game at times with a blustery breeze, crisp air and intermittent snow flurries.
If the weather was playing tricks, the product on the field quickly reminded that this was the Eagles first scrimmage of spring ball, just five days into practice. Even though the play wasn't in midseason form, head coach Beau Baldwin was pleased with what the Eagles were able to accomplish with their approximately 45-play scrimmage, especially with the rough weather conditions.
"There's obviously a lot of sloppiness that's not even close to game ready," he said. "But I thought the guys turned it on considering, like you said, heavy wind and snow. They didn't just try to get through it. They may have made a lot of mistakes at different times, but their attitude and mentality was to get something done every play, which was good."
The struggles were to be expected, though, as Baldwin is throwing a lot of new stuff at the team early in comparison to past years. Baldwin is pleased with the learning curve, though, and said it would not have been possible to disseminate this much new information at once on a different group.
The new group Baldwin talked about on multiple occasions is especially fresh offensively, where Eastern Washington will have to replace multiple playmakers. The return of junior Mario Brown, who redshirted last year, should provide a boost to the running game.
"Excited for Mario coming back," Baldwin said. "I think the backs as a whole, again, there's some new stuff for them, too. So they're getting used to seeing things and where everything's hit and how things are run with certain terminology. Some of it's new for them. Yeah, it's fun. It's fun to see Mario back healthy out here."
"Every year we have playmakers, some were more visible than others," Brown said. "We don't have the big three anymore. Definitely don't have Bo Levi [Mitchell] or Taiwan Jones, if you want to talk about 2010, but we have playmakers -- Vernon Adams, Cooper Kupp, me, Quincy [Forte]. We have a lot of people on the offensive and defensive side. I think we're going to be good. We're in good hands. Coach Baldwin knows what he's doing and we trust him 100 percent."
Adams continued to take reps as the first quarterback, struggling in his first two drives. Baldwin said that was more to do with his play calling, as he wanted to get the running backs going. Adams responded in his final possession as he directed a scoring drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Cody Humphrey.
Adams' teammates have been impressed with him early on, but it's more than just his play on the field that is making an impact.
"I see him stepping him into more of a leadership role," defensive lineman Dylan Zylstra said. "He definitely is, I wouldn't say the class clown, but he's always the up in high spirits. We still love having him, that's what he brings to the table, but now it's less of that and more of leading because that's what he's got to do."