The sub-zero temperatures and heavy blanket of snow that punched the region in the stomach last week certainly wasn’t what Beau Baldwin would have ordered up, given the chance.
But Eastern Washington University’s third-year head football coach doesn’t think the rare, raw blast of arctic-like weather conditions had any negative impact on his team’s preparation for Saturday’s 1 p.m. second-round Football Championship Subdivision playoff game against Southeast Missouri State at Roos Field.
The No. 1 ranked, but fifth-seeded Eagles (9-2) were chased indoors by the snow and cold on Tuesday and Wednesday, before taking a couple days off for Thanksgiving. But they were able to practice on Roos Field’s red turf on Saturday.
“I don’t think it was a bad thing in any way,” Baldwin said of the two indoor practices. “We got some fast-paced conditioning done, we lifted and we did a lot of fundamental stuff before Thanksgiving.
“I didn’t feel it was a negative at all. And then we went out on the field on Saturday, just to get a feel for the conditions. Plus, we wanted to continue to do some game-day-like stuff on Saturday, just to stay in the routine, and we were able to that.”
Ninth-ranked Southeast Missouri State (9-2), which earned an automatic FCS playoff bid by winning the Ohio Valley Conference and had a first-round bye like Eastern, is a run-first, ball-control team that, according to Baldwin, is “extremely disciplined.”
The Redhawks average just over 271 rushing yards per game. Thirty of their 38 touchdowns have come on the ground.
“They have four offensive linemen who were first-team all-league,” Baldwin noted. “And that says a lot about how committed they are to running the football.
“They run the ball to win – that’s their mentality. And on top of that, they’re smart, and they don’t turn it over.”
The snow forecast for Cheney on Saturday would seem to favor the grind-it-out offensive style of SEMO, but Baldwin doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t think the snow, if it comes, is going to have a big impact,” he said. “It’s one of those things where if you get a little snow, and maybe a little slush, the field might slow down a little bit. But at the same time, both teams are on it and both teams have to deal with it.
“And, ultimately, with our grounds crew being able to get the thing shoveled off, and the surface, itself, being such a great surface, I just don’t think it’s going to have any major impact on what either team is going to be able to do.”
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