[Vandal] EWU Eagles Are Flying High
robiegruss at aol.com
robiegruss at aol.com
Fri Oct 15 08:19:14 PDT 2021
>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoFriday, October 15, 2021
EWU Eagles Are Flying High
Barriere piloting Eastern Washington to undefeated season thus far
By Stephan Wiebe
Quarterback Eric Barriere and No. 2 Eastern Washington’s offensive football stats this season resembles a Madden team playing on easy mode rather than a group that’s battled a Football Bowl Subdivision foe and Football Championship Subdivision perennial power Montana.
When Idaho kicks off against EWU at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Cheney (ROOT), it’ll be going against a team averaging 51.2 points and almost 600 yards per game.
Those are video game numbers.
“It’s going to take a complete, great game (to beat EWU),” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “It’s going to take keeping their quarterback on the sideline as much as possible. That’s one of the biggest things.”
Teams haven’t had much luck keeping Barriere on the sideline so far. The multi-time All-American and national player of the year candidate leads the FCS with 411.17 passing yards per game and 21 touchdowns to five interceptions.
He has 2,452 passing yards on the season, which is more remarkable after realizing that’s already 1,002 yards more than No. 15 on the list — Quinton Williams of Howard.
Idaho’s leading passer, Mike Beaudry, has 776 yards this season, less than a third of Barriere’s total.A sixth-year senior from Inglewood, Calif., Barriere has seen his Eagles roll to winning seasons every year since he was the team’s scout team player of the year in 2016.
But no start has been sweeter than EWU’s 6-0 record this season that includes wins against UNLV of the Mountain West and the No. 5 Griz, which helped catapult the Eagles to No. 2 in this week’s FCS rankings.
Only defending national champion Sam Houston State sits above them.
Fifth-year EWU coach Aaron Best was unimpressed with the ranking when asked about it at his weekly press conference.
“Awesome, great, good. Doesn’t matter, get better,” Best said. “We walk by it every day, ‘DMGB.’ It is what it is.
“We’re in a groove, we’re doing some good things. We’ve still got a lot to earn, still got a lot to clean up in some areas.”
That attitude likely has rubbed off on Barriere, who has been mastering Best’s system since the coach took charge in Cheney in 2017.
Barriere has talked at times about growing up in a rough neighborhood near Los Angeles, where he saw gang violence and death at a young age.
He had to grow up quickly and turned to football as a primary outlet. He saw immediate success on the football field, but his 9,304 yards and 130 touchdowns at La Habra High School weren’t enough to catch the eye of major college football programs.
So Eastern Washington came calling and found itself a star in the making.
“He’s a very talented player, but a lot of people don’t see the talented person,” Best told the Missoulian (Missoula, Mont.) in September. “He took the teachings and applied them. As much as you want to give credit to all of the people that helped him along the way, you’ve got to give some of the credit to him because he took the teaching, took his talents and mixed them both.”
Petrino said Barriere does some of his best work on the move. His ability to extend plays and find time for his receivers to get open adds another layer for opposing defenses to worry about.
“We’ve got to give him a lot of different looks,” Petrino said. “We’ve got to do a good job of putting pressure on him with the pass rush and do a good job of staying in coverage when he moves, cause that’s when he gets a lot of his big plays.”
In a two-game span this season, Barriere tallied 1,060 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in wins Western Illinois and Southern Utah.
Those are potentially alarming numbers for an Idaho defense that just allowed Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander to throw for a career-high 424 yards in this past Saturday’s 42-35 win.
Barriere is in the midst of a Superman season. Idaho might not have the kryptonite, but they are at least familiar with the Big Sky’s biggest hero.
Idaho is 2-2 against EWU with Barriere under center, including a 1-1 record in the spring season despite the quarterback throwing for more than 300 yards in both games.
“He’s an outstanding player,” Petrino said. “We’ve done a good job against him in the past, we just gotta go out there and play hard, make sure our assignments are sound and do a good job.”
Around the Big Sky
Throw your predictions out the window. In a season of Big Sky teams upsetting numerous FBS teams, and winless teams (see: Idaho State) upsetting undefeated Top 10 FCS teams (UC Davis), it’s anyone’s guess what the surprise will be this week.
No. 9 Montana State at No. 19 Weber State (today)
No need to wonder if a fourth loss in five games would’ve finally dropped the Wildcats out of the Top 25. WSU beat Cal Poly last week to improve to 2-3.
Idaho at No. 2 Eastern Washington
The Vandals and Eagles have split their last four contests, but this will be Idaho’s biggest challenge yet in the rivalry series.
Sacramento State at No. 5 Montana
The Hornets played California of the Pac-12 earlier this season, but the Griz might be the toughest group they’ve faced yet.
Southern Utah at Northern Arizona
The Lumberjacks had an extra week to prepare for a Thunderbirds team still looking for its first win in Big Sky play.
Idaho State at Portland State
The Bengals showed just how much parity there is in the Big Sky this year, getting their first win of the season last week. The Vikings play their second consecutive Idaho school in as many weeks.
Northern Colorado at UC Davis
The Mustangs allow 18.7 points per game and the Bears average 17.2 points per game. Any bets on UCD keeping UNC under 20?
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