Idaho’s third football scrimmage of the fall was probably the least eventful to thing to come out of the Vandalsphere on Thursday, but still it was played and the optimism brimming from it could/should give some Vandal fans a reprieve from independence and Big Sky madness.
The story of the afternoon was undoubtably the running game, that had been relatively non-existent for most of the fall, springing to life with 174 rushing yards and five touchdowns. In the previous scrimmage, Vandal running backs only contributed 33 yards of offense on the ground.
“I might have mentioned ‘hey, make sure we don’t forget about the running game,’” coach Robb Akey said. “It was a conscious part of what we wanted to get accomplished today.”
Senior Ryan Bass was an incredibly welcome sight for the offense, as he made his presence felt from the very first series en-route to 68 yards on 11 attempts. It was apparent from the get go that the offense was going to establish the run early and often. Bass touched the ball more than anybody else on the first drive, which set up him hurdling in to the endzone from one yard out for the touchdown. Bass consistently showed shiftiness and big play ability, with the offensive line doing their part in opening up gaping holes (Insert RB coach Wayne Moses/Red Sea joke here).
Bass finished the day with 68 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. James Baker had 22 yards on six carries, with back up Todd Handley racking up 68 yards on 7 carries, including a 55 yard touchdown run.
“Runningbacks probably had the best day off the offense today. Not trying to be cocky, but we had a good day,” Bass said. “The O-Line did a great job of blocking, they did all their assignments right.”
That first team offensive line that was creating gaping holes appears to be set with redshirt freshmen Cody Elenz and Dallas Sandberg on the left side, sophomore Mike Marboe at center, and Dominique Blackman’s blindside being protected by senior A.J. Jones at right guard and junior Jordan Jefferson at right tackle.
More notes on the scrimmage after the jump:
- QB Dominique Blackman seems like he is getting a good grip on the offense. There are things that will need to be tightened up as the fall goes on, such as deep passing accuracy and making crisp throws in the red zone, but his short quick passing game ability affirms that this coaching staff probably made the right decision naming him the starter. He finished 14-21 with 114 yards during the scrimmage.
- RB James Baker didn’t have as impressive numbers as Bass but it doesn’t mean he didn’t have a solid scrimmage. It’s looking more and more like Baker is going to be an important part of the Vandals first team offense, especially on the goal line and on passing downs with his blocking ability. Baker will probably see the field a lot on third downs. Todd Handley and Justin Parkins will be in the picture immediately behind Bass and Baker should injuries or academic situations creep back up.
- Najee Lovett had a solid game, catching four balls for 38 yards. He and Jahrie Level seem pretty established with Justin Veltung and Mike Soctt as the top tier depth chart wide receivers. Idaho used quite a bit of formations that got four receivers out on the field at the same time, and it will be interesting to see where those players are mixed and matched. Veltung and Lovett are shifty, yard after catch type receivers. Level will provide a stretch the field ability. Scott fits in anywhere you put him.
- Somebody put out an amber alert for Vandal tight ends. Taylor Elmo has sat out most of the spring sorting through his academic situation, while Michael LaGrone had to sit out after a having his back stepped on “by a size 13 cleat,” Akey said. Justin Podrabsky and Clayton Homme each had receptions in the scrimmage.
- Offensive lineman Ben Westrum was carted off the field later in the scrimmage. Akey said it appeared to be an ankle injury.
- The starting defensive line is pretty set. Maxx Forde and Vince Keener are on the outside with Quayshawne Buckley and Jesse Davis on the inside again, but this “starting” group is as tentative as it gets. Steady rotation will be required for the line to be successful. Benson Mayowa will undoubtedly be in the picture when he returns to the team. DE Marius Burgsmueller, DT Dontae Scott, DE Quinton Bradley and DT Karel Kearney are mixing it up with the second team, which means they’ll be competing to be in the rotation mix.
- Scott had a cool moment when a batted ball fell in to his arms for an interception around mid-field. The big defensive tackle was able to make it 36 yards before he was caught from behind.
- MLB James Randall suffered a broken ankle last Tuesday at practice that will threaten the rest of his season. Matthew Willis will step in his place at back-up middle linebacker. Su’a Tuala remains the starter there, with Homer Mauga, Robert Siavii and Conrad Scheidt rotating among the outside backer spots.
- S Trey Williams seems like he has broken through as the starter next to Gary Walker. S Thaad Thompson and CB Solomon Dixon should still be involved in certain packages. Keep on eye on freshman CB Jayshawn Jordan, he ran with the second team most of the fall and can see the field covering slot receivers in situations where teams go four and five wide.
- K Trey Farquhar didn’t disappoint this time around. He comfortably nailed a 51 yarder.