GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Cal Poly attempted five passes last Saturday in beating North Dakota 35-17 at the Alerus Center. By contrast, there's a decent chance Eastern Washington will throw five times on its opening possession when the No. 7 Eagles host UND on Saturday on the red turf in Cheney, Wash.
Cal Poly's offense throws the ball 17 percent of the time on average, while Eastern Washington will put it through the air 52 percent of the time.
That means the UND defense will be in for a quick adjustment.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge," UND safety Erik Mersereau said. "We have our work cut out for us, but we're kind of looking forward to the task. We've been tested, but not to the extent we'll see this week."
The Eagles, who are averaging 309.5 passing yards per game, have a new look under center. EWU started the season with Southern Methodist transfer quarterback Kyle Padron, but the Eagles have since gone to redshirt freshman Vernon Adams, who was named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Eagles to a 32-26 comeback victory over Montana, which knocked the Grizzlies out of the national Top 25 for the first time since 1998.
Adams, a 6-foot, 180-pound speedster from Pasadena, Calif., completed 25 of 41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Montana. Adams, in his second career start, was 13-for-21 for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Adams, who UND has compared to shifty North Dakota quarterback Marcus Hendrickson, had a team-high 54 rushing yards against the Grizzlies.
"It's going to be a tough task," UND defensive lineman Devin Benjamin said. "It's one of the most efficient passing games in the country."
Adams' top target is Brandon Kaufman, who has had at least 100 yards in all four games this year. He is second in the country in receiving yards per game.