Whether it be on the ground or through the air, the Eastern football team knows how to rack up the yardage.
Currently, the Eagle’s offense ranks 17th out of 121 schools in the Football Championship Subdivision in total yards per game, sitting just below 440 yards per game this season. Despite making quarterback changes, head coach Beau Baldwin has learned how to maintain an offensive consistency that focuses on balance and allowing the playmakers to handle the ball.
“One of the things that we like to do is try to put our playmakers in positions to have success, and that kind of changes year to year depending on who your guys are and who some of your dynamic players are,” Baldwin said.
One of Baldwin’s playmakers is quarterback Vernon Adams, who this year has established himself as a threat with regards to both running and passing the ball. Yet, Baldwin has shown this season that he is also comfortable with SMU transfer quarterback Kyle Padron behind center.
“Both of them are incredible competitors,” Baldwin said. “They can make every throw in our offense.”
According to Baldwin, both quarterbacks are able to run the Eagle offense fluidly. Adams and Padron have the ability to read defenses and adjust aspects of the play at the line of scrimmage if they deem it necessary. Both signal callers have strong football mentalities; They are sharp in the film room and practice hard.
Baldwin is not afraid to unleash either quarterback in any given situation on the field.
“I can call any play with either quarterback and they both can run it very effectively,” Baldwin said. “But, there are a few things that Kyle does at a level that Vernon maybe doesn’t. There’s a few things that Vernon does at a level that Kyle doesn’t. So I lean more on certain calls when one’s in, as opposed to the other, that fits more their strength.”
While the quarterback position is important, there still has to be someone to catch the ball. Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman currently leads the Big Sky Conference in reception yards per game with 111.
His fourth year as an Eagle receiver, Kaufman knows the ins and outs of the position. When he lines up on the line of scrimmage, he knows what to look for in the defense and how to exploit it.
“I look at the cornerback. I look at the safety. I look at the cornerback’s leverage on me. I look at the linebacker to see where he’s lined up and then with that will determine what coverage [they are in.]” Kaufman said. “I’ll know how to run my route based on the coverage if it’s man or zone.”
According to fellow receiver Nicholas Edwards, running a route is different depending on the type of coverage the defense throws at you.
“A lot of people have different zones, so if it’s zone you have to find and get to a spot,” Edwards said. “But when you see man you got to be able to create separation away from the [defensive back] to be able to catch the ball.”
As a member of a potent receiving corp, Edwards has established relationships with the players and coaches around him. This working relationship is essential to on-the-field success.
“This is what they’ve built here,” Edwards said. “This is Eastern Washington University; we came here together and we’re just family. That’s what they preach here.”
“This school is a receiver type of school. If you come here, you’re going to have to be able to make plays for this university,” Edwards said.
While Baldwin relies on his passing game, he does not believe simply having a prolific aerial attack results in victories. He knows opposing defenses will hone in on tendencies of the offense, and that could spell disaster for his team. That is why he preaches balance.
“I do believe in having some form of balance,” Baldwin said. “I know we led the nation in passing a year ago but it still wasn’t the balance I feel like you need to truly have a potent offense that can win you more football games. It puts up yards but it doesn’t necessarily win as many football games.”
Baldwin also believes in changing the tempo of the offense in order to keep the defense uncomfortable. This keeps the offense rhythmic while keeping the opposing team guessing.
“We’re a no-huddle. We’re not necessarily always a fast no-huddle, but we have the ability to change speeds and do some things to try and keep things off balance,” Baldwin said.
The Eagle’s offense has many pieces to it. It takes a team effort to produce at a consistent level. For Kaufman, he is just another cog in a well-oiled machine.
“[It’s important for] every individual to be on the same page and [take] care of their responsibilities,” Kaufman said. “Everyone’s just another piece in the puzzle. If you take care of what you’re supposed to take care of and trust that other people will, then you’ll be successful.”