CHENEY — The Eastern Washington quarterbacks have had a lot thrown at them this year.
It seems to be sticking.
New sets and plays — some destined for Saturdays and some for the garbage can — have been learned and relearned.
“It’s been really good at this point compared to last year, and we’re jelling pretty well,” quarterback Anthony Vitto said after practice Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff early, but so far everybody is picking it up really well,” Vitto said.
That includes starter Vernon Adams, redshirt freshman Jordan West, true freshman Conner Richardson and Vitto, who hopes to get on the field but only under the best of circumstances.
“I just want to compete the best I can,” said Vitto, a fifth-year senior from Simi Valley, Calif.
“If something happens to Vernon — God forbid that — I hope that I won’t slow down the offense, and that we’ll pick up where we left off,” Vitto said.
Vitto has been there before: No. 2 behind Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011, but threw only a handful of passes that season.
Last year he spent Saturdays on the sidelines, third on the depth chart behind Adams and Kyle Padron.
But the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Vitto has enjoyed “probably his best camp ever” this year, head coach Beau Baldwin said. “That can be tough when you’re a senior and not projected to be the starter.”
“Right now he’s our number two, and if something were to happen to Vernon, I would feel absolutely confident in Anthony,” Baldwin said.
At this point, West, a 6-5, 215-pounder from Maple Valley, Wash., is third on the depth chart. “It’s starting to slow down for me,” West said.
“The young man wants it, and he has the tools,” Baldwin said.
The newcomer is true freshman Conner Richardson, a 6-2, 220-pounder from Burien, Wash., who arrived in Cheney earlier this summer to “get a feel for the offense a bit.”
Good thing, because Richardson ran a wing-T offense in high school. Nevertheless, “Conner is doing a great job so far,” Baldwin said.
Regardless of who’s at the controls, Baldwin said, he wants them to be “QB smart” when they run in the open.
“When I say QB smart, I want you to threaten teams, but you can threaten teams without taking 10 hits that you could have controlled,” Baldwin said.
“A little discomfort now will pay off later in the season,” Baldwin told his players at the end of Tuesday’s practice. To that end, Baldwin said practices have been a bit more physical than last year’s, and players have seen more game situations at the end of practice.
“It’s more realistic to what you’re going to face in a game – at the end of practice, when you’re tired – than at the beginning,” Baldwin said.