EWU finishes 6-5, Kupp wins BSC Offensive MVP


Photo contributed by goeags.com

Cooper Kupp runs for the end zone.

By Riley Baker, Staff Writer

After a Big Sky championship in the 2014 season, the Eagles were looking to come back strong in 2015. Despite losing a few key pieces from the year before, including quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. who transferred to the University of Oregon, there was still optimism regarding the season.

With quarterback Jordan West at the helm to start the season, EWU began with back-to-back losses to Oregon and the University of Northern Iowa. They bounced back, winning the next six in a row to be 6-2 with three games remaining but dropped their final three games to diminish any chance of making the playoffs.

Although the Eagles did not make the playoffs, there were still positives from the season.

“It was an interesting year. I think we showed a lot of resiliency,” coach Beau Baldwin said. “We saw some things that were good, but we also saw some things we have to look harder at.”

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp had a career year. He had a Big Sky record 114 catches this season, combined with 19 touchdown receptions and 1,642 receiving yards. In addition to receiving numerous passes, Kupp also received the Big Sky Offensive MVP award.

“It is a great honor to be named MVP of a conference that has so many strong teams and players,” Kupp said of winning the award. “I’m very thankful to be surrounded by players and coaches who push me to be my best day-in and day-out.”

Coach Baldwin praised Kupp saying, “He is one of the smartest and most mature student-athletes I’ve been around, and the best football player I’ve ever coached.”

Kupp is a top candidate for the Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Player of the Year award which will be announced in January 2016.

Besides Kupp, there were several more top performers from the season as nine players were named to the All-Big Sky Squad. First team selections included Kupp, as well as offensive guard Clay DeBord and offensive tackle Aaron Neary.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne and defensive end Samson Ebukam were named to second team, while defensive tackle Matthew Sommer and safety Todd Raynes were named third team. Outside linebacker Jake Gall and offensive guard Thomas Gomez were both honorable mentions.

Throughout the season, the Eagles’ offense loomed large, averaging 478.5 yards a game ranking eighth in the FCS. They led the nation in passing offense averaging 353.3 yards a game.

The defense, however, struggled allowing an average of 476.4 yards and 39.4 points per game.

“We came into the year with a newness at quarterback … Jordan [West] ran with that and I thought did really well,” Baldwin said of the team’s season. “We had a lot of youth on defense that kept getting better and better as the year went on.”

Overall, coach Baldwin is staying optimistic and looks to work hard going into next season.

“It’s a special group. You get used to going to the playoffs and winning titles, so it’s hard to finish with some losses at the end of the year,” Baldwin said. “There were times we weren’t as on point as we need to be. To do that, it takes that grind in the off-season. We have to hit a reset button on how important each week and each play are.”