Eastern Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell sure likes to talk the talk.
“They are picking this game for a reason,” the FCS national champion quarterback told Dave Softy Mahler on KJR 950 AM. “They want to come in and get an easy win to start the season out, and I know how that is… (Washington will) just prepare differently. And we are going to take full advantage of that and just try to come out and smack them in the mouth.”
I’m glad he thinks this. Levi has won a lot of football games for the Eagles because he has that kind of mentality. This is probably the same mentality that the divine and holy savior Jake Locker had in so many games in which the Huskies themselves were hopelessly outmatched, albeit he might’ve been a little less outspoken about it.
When the Huskies walk into Husky Stadium on September 3rd to face the Eagles it will mark the first time in the history of the Washington football program they will play an opponent that is lower than their current division, Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
Walking into the stadium is the only thing the Huskies will have to do to win this game, really.
The Eagles won’t stand a chance. Washington is too talented, too fast, too big, too skilled for the Eagles to keep up.
For the sake of being diplomatic, I acknowledge that EWU has a very good football team in their own right. You don’t win a National Championship at any level of major college football unless you have some kind of talent or coaching advantange over a majority of your opponents. Beau Baldwin and his 13-2 Eagles certainly fall into that category.
But the sad(for Eastern) reality of the matter is that this is a completely different animal.
I perused over Eastern’s official press release of the game, and after noticing some of their impact players I decided to look up the recruiting profiles of said players.
Bo Levi Mitchell had offers from Southern Methodist and Hawaii, eventually choosing SMU. For whatever reason he ended up in Cheney and is now starting for the Eagles. He’s a fringe NFL prospect. Alright, cool. Solid player, nothing special in the broad spectrum of things.
After that it gets murky.
I looked at the Scout and Rivals profiles(if even available) of Brandon Kaufman, Chris Powers, Gabriel Jackson, Matt Johnson, Zach Johnson and Renard Williams, who were listed as ‘impact returning players’, and couldn’t find any Division I offers.
I did this not to illustrate that Eastern isn’t talented. In the realm of the Football Championship Subdivision these are very good football players, made even better by good coaching.
I’m doing this to quell any dilusion that the Eagles have the kind of talent to play with the Huskies. They don’t. The Huskies have been cleaning house with in state recruiting during the last five seasons. Eastern gets the scraps of what Washington leaves them, and that’s after the Cougars vulture what’s left.
While the Eagles are fighting off service acadamies and Idaho State for mid level high school athletes, the Huskies were fighting off LSU and Texas for five star High school All Americans. Both of whom will see the field on Saturday. (Talking of course about WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Sefarian Jenkins).
And let’s not act like the Eagles have been upset miracle workers here either. Their last upset over a D-1 school? An 8-5 victory over the Idaho Vandals in 2003. Before that, a 35-17 win over a then terrible Connecticut program. Since 2003 the Eagles have lost nine in a row against D-1 schools by an average of 29 points.
Regardless there are still some questions, and well, straight up myths about this match up that need to be answered.
“If Appalachian State can beat Michigan, we can beat UW! Or what about James Madison versus Virginia Tech!” Eagles fans will cry.
Not really. App State had one of the greatest programs in FCS history during their back to back championship runs. Even then it required an anomaly and a team with their coach asleep at the wheel for these types of upsets to happen. The weeks following the App. St. game for Michigan? Dates with the Oregon Ducks and Notre Dame Irish. You don’t think Lloyd Carr was looking ahead with his job at stake?
James Madison caught an apathetic Virginia Tech team returning home after losing to Boise State in heartbreaking fashion. Breaking out from a 17 point Bronco stranglehold the Hokies came back late to take a four point lead, only for Kellen Moore to lead BSU down the field for the game winning touchdown.
Beamer did exactly what Levi Mitchell talked about and let off the throttle and James Madison took advantage.
The common demoninator in this equation does not exist in the match up at Husky Stadium. With the buzzsaw Pac-12 schedule ahead of them along with a date with the Cornhuskers of Nebraska over in Lincoln coming the Dawgs need every win for bowl eligibility, even this one. Except for the fact that the Huskies will still have two weeks before they go into Lincoln. Hawaii the week after isn’t easy by any means, but it’s not a situation in which Washington will look ahead or overlook.
Besides, do you think new quarterback Keith Price wants to just go through the motions in his first collegiate game as the guy? Not when you’re looking over your shoulder at Son of Joe.
Oh, yeah, while we’re on the topic of quarterback, let’s just address that.
“You guys will suck without Locker!” EWU fans will try to point out.
Yes, while it is factual that Washington is losing one of it’s most talented players in it’s entire rich football history, one should take a look at the actual production. Is it really unfathomable to think a RS So. can replace 2650 yards and 23 touchdowns worth of production? Keith Price has no business being in this offense if he can’t. Price, who picked Washington over Arizona State and Utah, will be entering his third year in the offensive system. To put that in perspective, Locker entered 2010 only in a pro style for the second year of his entire life (Wing-T in high school, option-spread under Willingham).
And that’s not even addressing the fact that Keith Price will have more skill position talent at his disposal than Jake Locker could have ever dreamed of having when he first took the reigns of Washington’s offense. In Locker’s first season as a starter his go to receiver was Marcel Reece, who is currently playing FULLBACK for the Oakland Raiders. Keith Price has Kasen Williams, who was Pac-12 ready when he was 14, and Jermaine Kearse, who will be a mid round NFL draft pick. Oh, and that Chris Polk kid. He ran for like 1,600 yards last year, or something.
All in all, this is a statement game none the less for the Washington Huskies. This is a statement year for Washington and it starts week by week. No more getting blown out by teams like Nebraska, no more inching out wins against teams you should dominate.
It would be embarrassing for Washington and what they’ve been trying to build for Eastern to come in here and make this football game competitive.
I’m glad you’re so confident, Levi Mitchell. You’re going to need it.