The Eastern Washington Eagles (#7 Football Championship Subdivision Poll) visit Jones AT&T Stadium to take on the (#12 AP, #14 Coaches’ Polls) Texas Tech Red Raiders. Eastern Washington comes into the game looking to pull off an upset similar to Appalachian State’s epic defeat of Michigan last season.
Eastern Washington Passing
EWU is led by Jr. QB Matt Nichols, who was 280-440 last season for 3,744 yards (63.6 percent) with 34 TD’s and nine INT’s. Nichols is also EWU’s second leading rusher with 129 rushes for 392 yards, but no scores. His Backup is Alex Smith who attempted all of 13 passes last season, so here’s to hoping that Nichols stays healthy.
The EWU ground game is led by senior Dale Morris. He carried the ball 198 times for 930 yards (4.7 YPC) and 12 TD’s. Morris also caught 11 passes for 77 yards and one score. After the aforementioned Nichols, senior fullback Alexis Alexander is next on the rushing list. He tallied 52 rushes for 267 yards (5.1 YPC) with five trips to paydirt. Alexander added five catches for 61 yards and one score. A.J. Jimerson, Bryan Jarrett and Nick Ramos each scored one TD to round out the Eagles’ rushing scores.
Aaron Boyce is the name to know here. The junior caught 85 balls for 1,308 (15.4 YPC) and 10 TD’s last season. No other player on the team has more than four receiving TD’s.
Brynsen Brown, Shane Eller and Tony Davis each had four TD’s. Nathan Overbay, Tom McAndrews, and A.J. Jimerson each had 3 TD’s. Matt Martin (2), Dale Morris (1), Alexis Alexander (1), and Nick Ramos (1) finish Eastern Washington’s receiving scoring.
Texas Tech Passing
Graham Harrell enters his final season at Texas Tech looking to improve on the stellar numbers he put up last season. Harrell completed 512-713 passes for 5,705 yards (71.8 percent) with 48 TD’s and 14 INT’s. Taylor Potts returns as the backup after completing 32-49 passes for 409 yards (65.3 percent) with three TD’s and one INT.
Texas Tech Rushing
Shannon Woods paces a trio of running backs that also includes Aaron Crawford and red shirt sophomore Baron Batch. Woods finished last year with 84 carries for 439 yards (5.2 YPC) and eight TD’s.
Crawford, who started the Gator Bowl after Woods was put in Leach’s dog house, had 54 carries for 214 yards (4.0 YPC) and four scores. Batch, a powerfully built speedster from Midland, did not play in any games last season but an extra gear of speed that neither Woods nor Crawford possess. Speedy WR Ed Britton had nine rushes for 52 yards (5.8 YPC) but no scores.
Texas Tech Receiving
Michael Crabtree begins his farewell tour in a Red Raider uniform Saturday night. The sophomore from Dallas led the NCAA in catches, yards and touchdowns last season. Keeping him out of the endzone will be about as hard as keeping him out of the 2009 NFL Draft (barring injury, of course). His 134 catches for 1,962 yards (14.6 YPC) and 22 scores last season will be tough to top.
Alongside Crabtree will be senior Eric Morris, who had 75 catches for 767 yards (10.2 YPC) and nine TD’s. Britton had 48 catches for 631 yards (13.1 YPC) and four trips to the endzone.
Detron Lewis, who takes over for Cowboys hopeful Danny Amendola, had 10 catches for 120 yards and three scores. Those are modest numbers but Lewis has wowed coaches and teammates with his skills. Fans should expect big numbers from him this season. RB Crawford, RB Woods (2 each) and Lyle Leong one score, finish Tech’s returning receiving scores.
EWU head coach Paul Wulff left in the off-season for Washington State. Beau Baldwin took over after spending last season as the Central Washington head coach and the previous four years as EWU’s offensive coordinator.
Considering that Wulff took many assistants with him to Washington State, the Eagles may not have had time to really gel as a team. That’s unfortunate, because Texas Tech returns all of their coaches but one asssistant coach, 10 starters on offense and eight on defense.
Leach and his Red Raiders have gotten a lot of publicity leading up to this season and now it’s time to prove they belong amongst the nation's elite.
Eastern Washington Eagles: 13
Texas Tech Red Raiders: 76