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August 20, 2008Normally requiring a subscription, this position overview has been published as free content. You can take out an EagSports.com Ultimate Annual Ticket for a FREE 7-day trial and become a subscriber annually or monthly. Click here to find out more about the FREE 7-day trail and the benefits that come along with an EagSports.com Ultimate Annual Ticket.
With all the questions that come up when looking at a football program with a new coaching staff along with higher expectations, having an answer at quarterback is always a great thing to have.
Redshirt junior Matt Nichols is back to lead the high flying Eagles after winning Big Sky Offensive MVP honors last season. Nichols thrived last season in the no-huddle offense installed by then new Offensive Coordinator Todd Sturdy and Head Coach Paul Wulff. Even with Wulff and Sturdy moving on to Washington State, new Head Coach Beau Baldwin has stated the offense will not miss a beat.
Nichols completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,744 yards, a school-record 34 touchdowns and had just nine interceptions in 2007 after having 17 interceptions (equaling a school record) and eight touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Nichols also broke the school's single season rushing record for quarterbacks as he finished with 392 yards.
If Nichols goes down in 2008, Eagle fans shall not fret. Backing up Nichols will be Alex Smart, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound redshirt senior from North Bend, Wash. Smart's career has been one of many changes. After arriving on campus in 2004 after choosing Eastern over Montana out of Mount Si High School, Smart moved from quarterback to wide receiver, then to tight end and then back to quarterback. Smart has seen action in 15 games during his EWU career, throwing for 191 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
After the two deep at quarterback, it's all green. True freshman Scott Burgett and Jeff Minnerly round out the QB's on the roster.
Burgett prepped at Centennial High School in Peoria, Ariz. Burgett completed 109-of-200 pass attempts for 2,017 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. No stranger to winning, he helped lead the Coyotes to a 35-1 record over his three years on varsity. Centennial won the 5A Division II title his last two years. It appears the plan is for Burgett to redshirt this season, Burgett had this to say after committing to Coach Baldwin in early February, "I'm going to redshirt my first year and he said every year (after that) I'm going to have a chance to compete for the starting job."
Minnerly is no stranger to Spokane area football fans. As a senior at Ferris High School, Minnerly was selected to the WashingtonPreps.com first team all-state offense and was named the Greater Spokane League offensive MVP. He finished the season completing over 65 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards and 28 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He added 400 more yards on the ground and three more scores. It appears the staff also wants to redshirt Minnerly, "I think they want me to redshirt and that will be good for me", said Minnerly. "It gives me another year to develop and will let me learn from the guys that are there doing it now."
There is another young quarterback waiting in the wings, but you won't see him on the sidelines at Woodward Field. Darius Banks, the three-star dual threat quarterback that signed with Eastern in February, will prop this year. If Banks does well in his first year at Eastern in the classroom, expect for him to excel behind center as well.
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