One of the biggest emphases for the Eastern Washington football team this spring is developing timing between quarterback Vernon Adams and a new set of receivers.
At the annual Red & White game on Saturday afternoon, the improvement in that area was on display, as Adams threw for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Eagles lost its top three receivers from a year ago to the NFL – Brandon Kaufman, Greg Herd and Nicholas Edwards all signed with teams as undrafted free agents on Saturday. Adams, who shared quarterback duties last season, will have to develop a rapport with a young group of receivers. The quarterbacks and receivers have been putting in extra time in order to get their timing down.
There were times on Saturday when Adams looked out of sync, but he was also in tune with the receivers at times.
"We've been probably challenged more than ever with a new group of wideouts and them developing timing in 20-25 mile per hour wind," head coach Beau Baldwin said. "That adds to the challenge. It's never an excuse, but it makes it that much tougher. Tuesday we had a little bit calmer day and I was able to see we were timing things a little bit better."
The winds were gusty at times on Saturday, but Adams was still able to complete 9-of-15 pass attempts. Backup Anthony Vitto completed 10-of-15 attempts, but did not find the end zone through the air. Freshman Jordan West went just 5-of-10, but threw a pair of touchdowns.
While Cory Mitchell made what was perhaps the play of the day, bringing down a jump ball in the end zone for a touchdown, freshman Cooper Kupp made the biggest mark of any receiver.
Kupp caught eight balls for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Showing an ability to work with multiple quarterbacks, Kupp caught touchdown passes from both Adams and West.
"We're putting in extra work," Kupp said. "All the receivers and quarterbacks get together. We know we need to be on our game all the time. With the new receivers coming up and Vern getting to know how we run routes, what speed, what type of speed we have running routes. That's going to be fundamental in being successful."
Eastern Washington still has three more spring practices before moves into the summer portion of training, which does not consist of any organized team activities until fall camp.
It's a safe bet that the quarterbacks and receivers will organize their own workouts, though, striving to develop a rhythm and rapport before the season opener.