Eastern Washington football coach Beau Baldwin calls it more of an educated guess than a gut feeling.
Regardless of who takes the snap, the Eagles’ two-quarterback system of Kyle Padron and Vernon Adams has been an unqualified success entering Saturday’s 5 p.m. (CST) Championship Subdivision quarterfinal playoff game against Illinois State at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
“It’s been an advantage for us,” said Baldwin. “Both would want every snap. I get that. But it’s made us stronger, made us a better team.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Padron is a junior transfer from Southern Methodist and will start against ISU, according to Baldwin. Adams is a 6-0, 180-pound freshman.
“We feed off each other. We compete every single day throw for throw,” Padron said. “On game day one of us is starting and the one not starting is signaling in plays to try to stay in the game a different way.
“It’s the coach’s decision. It’s not in my control. When I’m out there I try to make the most of my opportunities. When I’m on the sideline, I try to help out Vernon.”
Padron has seen action in nine of 12 games for the 10-2 and fourth-ranked Eagles. He has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,016 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
More of a running threat, Adams has played in 10 games. He has passed for 1,586 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 308 yards.
“It can make things really tough on a defensive coordinator preparing for different guys,” said Baldwin. “Both of them have been at their very best the last five games of the season.”
Baldwin, who guided Eastern Washington to the 2010 national championship, takes an analytical approach to in-game changes at quarterback.
“It’s more than just a feel,” he said. “I truly try to make an educated decision. It’s what I think will give the defense problems and help us win.”
While combining for 301.6 passing yards per game, Padron and Adams have four receivers with at least 35 catches led by the 75 receptions, 1,444 yards and 10 touchdowns of 6-foot-5 junior Brandon Kaufman.
“He’s a special player,” said Padron. “He’s got a great frame and runs pretty well for his size. If I throw it up to him, he comes down with it a majority of the time.”
The Eagles have a balanced rushing attack behind Quincy Forte (461 yards) and Demetrius Bronson (456). Jordan Talley amassed 218 yards in five games and is questionable for Saturday because of concussions.
Offensive tackle Will Post is an All-American caliber blocker.
The Eastern Washington defense features first-team all-Big Sky Conference players in linebacker Ronnie Hamlin (117 tackles) and cornerback T.J. Lee. End Jerry Ceja paces the Eagles with 14 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.
The Eagles are 6-0 at home and have played eight games decided by seven points or less, winning six.
“I think being in those close games helps us deal with adversity because every game is different,” said Ceja. “There are going to be ups and downs in every game.”