August 26, 2001 11:00 pm

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

The offense needs some work. That much was apparent Saturday after Eastern Oregon Universitys preseason football scrimmage.

But coach Rob Cushman was not so much worried about his offense as he was pleased with his defense, which forced several turnovers and contributed greatly to the offensive woes.

We will fly around on defense, Cushman said. Were going to scrap and fight and use our speed and give some people some fits.

The offense scored four touchdowns Saturday, but only one of those came on a drive that didnt start at the 20-yard line or closer. The other three were in goal line or red zone situations.

Im a little concerned about the offense, but you know, thats going to come on, Cushman said.

Cushmans quarterback situation was likely decided Saturday when redshirt freshman Ruben Villa injured his right knee early in the scrimmage. Villa and Mark Hanrahan were battling for the job, but Cushman has more options with Villa at quarterback. Hanrahan, a junior, can also play the slot back; he led the team with 953 all-purpose yards last year.

I certainly dont want a quarterback controversy, Cushman said earlier last week. Wed like to go into the ballgame with a guy in command.

That ballgame comes Saturday in the season opener against Willamette at Community Stadium. The opener is a week earlier than in past seasons.

Cushmans biggest concern this week is preparing his defense for Willamettes multiple-attack offense. Its a hard thing to simulate the fly offense, Cushman said.

The coach was also pleased with his teams special teams. Kicker Gabe Minthorn had a 25-yard field goal during the scrimmage and two extra points. Punters Mike Kyle and Phil Nyby both performed well, Cushman said, and the coverage and return teams are better than last year, he added.