Vernon Adams Jr. will be facing his old team this weekend and will be going against a defense he should be familiar with. Eastern Washington will have a few new faces on the defensive side of the ball- five freshman could potentially start on Saturday against the Ducks. Before we start looking at the 2015 Eagle defense, here is a recap of how they played in the 2014 season:
Points allowed per game: 31.4 points
Total yards allowed per game: 441.8 yards
Rushing yards allowed per game: 175.4 yards
Passing yards allowed per game: 266.4 yards
Samson Ebukam and Matthew Sommer will anchor the defensive front. Ebukam, a Portland native (David Douglas), led the team last year with 7.5 sacks and was named to the Big Sky Conference Preseason All-Conference Team. He will need to force a lot of pressure on the Ducks to give the unproven secondary a chance to stop Oregon's receivers. Not only did Ebukam put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he also led the team in tackles for loss with 12 last season.
Sommer played in 14 games last year and recorded 24 total tackles. The junior isn't a pushover, standing at 6'4" and weighing 310 pounds. He also received some preseason honors, Sommer was named to the Third Team Big Sky Conference Preseason All-Conference Team.
The Eagles are expecting big things out of redshirt freshman, Alex Kacmarcik. He was named the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year last season. Eastern Washington coaches aren't the only ones who recognize Kacmarcik's skills, he was voted the Big Sky Conference Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Miquiyah Zamora is the returning leader in tackles heading into this season. Last year, Zamora had 102 tackles, which was second behind Ronnie Hamlin. Zamora has a lot of experience and is a one of the co-captains for the 2015 season.
Todd Raynes will lead the secondary this season. The 2015 co-captain had three interceptions and forced a fumble last year. Eastern Washington's defense forced 19 interceptions last year and will be incorporating some new faces in the defensive back unit. It will be hard to replace Tevin McDonald, a 2014 All-American, but freshman Mitch Fettig will have little time to digest his new starting role.
X-Factor: Chemistry and tackling
Whether it is Vernon Adams Jr. getting on the same page with his receivers or Eastern Washington's defense gelling, chemistry will be key for both teams first games. It doesn't matter who the team is, every team across the nation will have some missed tackles because of the new season. Eastern Washington will learn they have to flush their mistakes because of Oregon's fast pace.