Chris McGinnis-Parker, left, and the EOU offense will try to hang with the No. 14-ranked offense in the country Saturday against Rocky Mountain College. (Observer file)
EOU looks for third straight upset when it travels to play Rocky Mountain
The bye week couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Eastern Oregon University football team.
After a dreaded 0-4 start, the Mountaineers picked up back-to-back upsets over then No. 3-ranked Carroll College and then No. 21-ranked Montana Western.
After the week off, EOU returns to the field Saturday in Billings, Mont., where it squares off against No. 12 Rocky Mountain College at noon.
“When you come off two wins over top-20 schools you want to get right back at it,” EOU head coach Tim Camp said. “We had a good four days of practice last week. I gave them two days off. We came back out (this week), they’re ready to get on that bus.”
The Mountaineers (2-4 overall, 2-3 Frontier Conference) will have their hands full again this week, as the Battlin’ Bears (5-1 overall, 4-1 FC) are No. 14 in the nation in total offense per game at 447 yards.
RMC likes to make a living through the air, where the team is ranked No. 6 in the nation in total pass offense with 1,959 yards (326 yards per game).
That air raid attack is led by senior quarterback Bryce Baker, who has thrown for 1,773 yards and 15 touchdowns this year. He has connected with seven different receivers at least 10 times.
“We want to force them to try and run it,” Camp said. “At one point in time they were the No. 1 passing offense in the country. But we’re ready for all aspects of what Rocky will bring.”
The Mountaineers faced another pass-heavy team earlier this season in Southern Oregon. EOU came up up on the wrong end of a 73-20 ballgame after SOU quarterback Austin Dodge threw for 355 yards and six touchdowns.
Camp said Dodge and Baker have varying skill sets.
“I think they’re two different types of players,” Camp said. “I think that Baker can pull it and run. Austin will wait, wait, wait and throw the ball. For their aerial attack, they’re similar. Everybody in this conference is basically running the same routes and same schemes. Some just do it a little better than others.”
Camp said the best way to prevent Baker from hooking up with his playmakers is by getting pressure on the quarterback.
“Our best pass defense is the pass rush,” Camp said. “We have to try and get to him early. We have some pressures designed just for Rocky Mountain which have always been able to hit in the past. We’ve had success against Rocky.”
EOU has won the last two matchups against the Battlin’ Bears, including coming back from a 10-0 halftime deficit last year to win 28-24.
The Mountaineers will look to make it three straight wins this season and three straight in the series when they kickoff Saturday.
The game can be listened to live on 103.1 FM, or streamed online at myeasternoregon.com.