Practice notes through Thursday, post-scrimmage analysis, new WR impressing

9 Aug

Jahrie Level catches a TD at El Camino CC (Courtesy of El Camino CC)

It’s been a week now since Idaho football kicked off fall pre-season practice. Since Thursday’s opening practice the team has gone through its first couple of practices in full pads, had a couple two-a-days and played the first of three scrimmages. The scrimmage took part last Saturday afternoon in the Kibbie Dome, and was the first chance that coaches had an opportunity to really evaluate the two quarterbacks competing for the starting job.

Statistically, Dominique Blackman had the edge throwing four touchdown passes and 181 yards on 16 completions out of 21 attempts. Taylor Davis was 6 for 14 with 75 yards. Reps between the two haven’t fluctuated much from the start of fall camp, though it would be hard not to think that Blackman hasn’t at least created some separation in the competition. There is a long way to go in the competition with Akey not likely to name a starter until after the third scrimmage on Aug. 16.

The real storyline from the scrimmage is more than just the two quarterbacks. The entire offense clicked with all five quarterbacks leading touchdown drives, with significant contributions at the skill position spots from Junior College transfers.

RB James Baker ran for 50 yards on 6.25 yards per carry. Baker, who transferred from a JUCO in Florida, looks like he could be well on his way to becoming the starting back. Ryan Bass is currently out sorting through academic eligibility issues, and will certainly be in the picture to get significant carries when he gets back. The two backs present different skill sets and could compliment each other well.

At the wide receiver spot Mike Scott led the way, as expected, with five catches for 85 yards. Behind Scott, Najee Lovett hauled in six catches for 59 yards, while Jahri Level had four catches for 42 yards.

Level, a late summer scholarship signee from El Camino College in Los Angeles, has been steadily turning heads through the first week of practice as an outside target presenting shiftiness and speed after the catch. Tentatively it seems that he has worked his way in to the top four or five of the receiver depth chart. Mike Scott and Justin Veltung are well entrenched as starters, with Lovett and Level right there in the next tier. Robert Hatchett III is another player to watch in the WR conversation.

Depth charts for the rest of the team are also started to become more clear post-scrimmage during Wednesday’s practice.

The first team offensive line remained, from left to right: RS Fr. Cody Elenz, RS Fr. Dallas Sandberg, RS So. Mike Marboe, Sr. A.J. Jones and Jr Jordan Johnson.

We had another chance to talk with defensive coordinator Mark Criner about how the defense is shaping up. He said that No. 22 James Randall has made the permanent change from safety to starting Mike linebacker until Sua Tuala re-joins the team. Criner plans to rotate in five different players at the three different spots, with Rob Siavii, Homer Mauga and Conrad Scheidt being rotated among the outside backer positions.

It was harder to get a read on the starting defensive line with the rotation that Criner was working at that spot. Maxx Forde, Quayshawne Buckley and Vince Keener look like they are going to be heavily involved in that rotation. Look for senior DE Benson Mayowa to be involved in that starting unit as well.

In the secondary, No. 7 S Trey Williams is really impressing in the spot next to Gary Walker. Williams made a great play during Wednesday morning’s practice jumping a Justin Veltung sideline route to pick Dominique Blackman on a play that probably would have been a defensive touchdown in a game situation. It could be hard for Criner to take Williams off the field for Thaad Thompson.

Solomon Dixon remained the starting corner opposite of Aaron Grymes, with Dion Bass and freshman Jayshawn Jordan working with the second team. Christian Whitehead jumped in on some first team reps for Dixon later on in practice, though Criner said that was more to give guys rest.

Check back later tonight for video.

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