When Eric Barriere was thrust into the starting quarterback role in a game at North Dakota last November, it was a trial-by-fire scenario for the then-freshman.
Filling in for All-American Gage Gubrud, who was suspended one game after a violation of team rules, Barriere wasn’t asked to put up the Gubrud-like numbers but to play clean and efficient.
He passed for a modest 130 yards and ran for 55 in a defensive gem, a 21-14 EWU win in Grand Forks. That outcome helped give the 6-foot, 195-pound speedster the confidence he exhibited in a 55-17 thrashing of Southern Utah on Saturday at Roos Field.
A three-star recruit out of La Habra High in Inglewood, California, Barriere has continued to develop under offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder, and against the Thunderbirds, he looked like the dual-threat star he was in high school.
With Gubrud out with a foot injury Saturday, Barriere ran around Southern Utah, his shifty 85-yard touchdown scamper evoking memories of former EWU star QB Vernon Adams on the red turf. He was slinging it accurately, too, connecting on 13 of 21 passes for 238 yards and a score, and no turnovers.
“It’s crazy how much my confidence has grown,” Barriere said. “I just went out there and played the game I love.”
What does his brand of athleticism do for the Eagles’ already explosive offense?
“It brings a lot,” he said. “I showcased a lot of my ability. I can throw and run around and move. It give the team a good feel.”
Hayes takes advantage of first start
Dehonta Hayes is one of the reasons the EWU defense is so deep.
Hayes, making his first start, was all over the field, tallying 11 tackles to help hold its third consecutive Big Sky Conference foe to a meager 17 points.
He believes EWU’s fast and experienced defense is starting to get the respect it deserves.
“Since the spring, we’ve been hungry to show the type of defense we really are,” Hayes said. “ People say we are more of offensive team or whatever, but we are showing that we are defense and offense.”
His head coach, Aaron Best, is also excited about his show-stopping defense.
“It’s a commendable effort by (defensive coordinator) Jeff Schmedding and his assistant coaches,” Best said. “They do a marvelous job. When you believe in something, it may not happen the next minute or the next day, but it’s going to be believed over time. We have enough talent, commitment and dedication, and coaches who coach their tails off and know what they are doing.”
Penalty woes continue
EWU ranks in the bottom third of FCS teams in penalties.
In six games, the Eagles have tallied 45 penalties for 437 yards, including eight for 65 yards against Southern Utah. Two penalties wiped touchdowns off the board.
A penalty also wiped a touchdown off the board at Montana State last week.
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