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SUU football: Defense faces new challenge at E. Washington
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Cheney, Wash. • Southern Utah stopped one of the most potent offenses in the country last week.

The Thunderbirds now get to try again.

Southern Utah, still in contention for at least a share of the Big Sky Conference championship, visits sixth-ranked Eastern Washington on Saturday night.

SUU's vastly improved defense faces another huge challenge coming off a 17-7 win over high-powered Portland State, which turned over the ball five times.

Eastern Washington averages 37.2 points and 499.3 yards per game through six games, including a 49-46 win over Oregon State of the Pac-12 in the season opener.

"We definitely have to carry some of our defensive momentum into this week," Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb said. "The thing that stands out to me as I watch [Eastern Washington] is the confidence their offense plays with. They are extremely confident in their ability to throw the ball over the top of coverage."

Excluding a 48-10 loss at Washington State, the Thunderbirds have allowed only 15.2 points per game. No team has scored more than 21 points against them.

Offensively, Southern Utah has struggled at times. But the plan this season — without three-year starter Brad Sorensen at quarterback — has been to control the ball, avoid mistakes and let outstanding defense and special teams play make the difference.

"Our game is not to just chuck the ball around and see what happens," Lamb said. "In the past, with Brad and some of our receivers, we felt we could." —

Southern Utah at Eastern Washington

O At Roos Field, Cheney, Wash.

Kickoff • Saturday, 6:05 p.m. MDT

TV • None. Radio • 91.1-FM

Records • SUU (5-2,2-1), Eastern Washington (4-2, 2-0)

Series • Eastern Washington, 4-2

Last meeting • Southern Utah, 30-27 (2012)

About the Thunderbirds • A win likely would vault them into the Top 25 among FCS schools. ... They are 3-1 on the road. The only loss came at Washington State (48-10). ... CB Tyree Mills had two interceptions in last week's 17-7 victory over Portland State. He's had four interceptions in the last three games.

About the Eagles • They're trying to win their third Big Sky championship in four years. ... They beat Oregon State in their season opener, 49-46. ... They average 37.2 points. ... Sophomore QB Vernon Adams has completed 119 of 179 passes for 1,891 yards and 21 touchdowns. He's thrown five interceptions.

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