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Vandals’ offense glimmers

The last true scrimmage of fall camp for the Idaho Vandals was as one-sided as any in fall camp. The offense piled up yards through the ground and the passing game, and they did so in huge chunks. Read on for details.


Josh Wright

MOSCOW, Idaho – Robb Akey was shuffling through last-minute preparations for Sunday’s scrimmage with part of his staff when he decided to vocalize a hunch.

“I’ve got a feeling that one side of the ball is going to get after the other today,” the Idaho football coach predicted.

Sure enough, it was UI’s offense that dazzled for much of a mild, breezy afternoon at the team’s outdoor practice field. And much to Akey’s liking, the Vandals flaunted expertise in a bit of everything – a capable power ground game, quarterbacks who efficiently managed simulated two- and four-minute drills and a diverse receiving corps with big-play potential.

Six wideouts/tight ends snared passes of 20 yards or longer on Sunday, helping Nathan Enderle and Brian Reader complete a combined 11 of 14 passes.

Last season Idaho had one bankable receiving target, H-back Eddie Williams, and a mix of wideouts whose performances were spotty. Williams, a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference performer last season, hauled in 54 receptions, twice as many as the team’s No. 2 threat, Preston Davis.

With Williams gone to the Washington Redskins, Akey identified five targets – tight end Daniel Hardy and receivers Eric Greenwood, Maurice Shaw, Max Komar and Davis – who have consistently flourished in fall camp.

“That makes me feel like when teams do some things to deal with our running game, we can distribute it a little better in the throwing game,” Akey said. “That has me feeling better about things.”

The burden of replacing Williams won’t fall on just one player. Yet Hardy seems ready to produce as the Vandals’ designed H-back, a hybrid position that mixes tight end, fullback and receiver.

The junior has added nearly 40 pounds and two inches to his frame since coming to Moscow from Anchorage, Alaska, and he’s shown a keen ability to extend the defense with deep receiving skills.

“You can’t replace a guy like Eddie Williams,” said Hardy, now 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. “Obviously he got drafted by the Redskins. He’s making plays there. We just want to follow in his footsteps.”

Hardy equates the Vandals’ tight end group to the club’s running backs. At both positions, UI will lean on a reservoir of talent instead of riding one key figure.

Besides Hardy, Idaho will use seniors Peter Bjorvik and Kevin Small, and perhaps true freshman Taylor Elmo of Yakima. Akey said his staff has been so impressed with Elmo’s athleticism that the defensive aides want him to shift to defensive end and the offensive coaches have demanded he

stay at tight end.

“Right now, I’m leaving him at tight end because that’s a little more what his comfort zone is and what he’d like to play,” Akey said.

NOTES – With the start of classes today, Idaho will begin one-a-day practices, effectively signaling the end of fall camp. … The offense’s field day on Sunday came against a short-handed defense. Safety Shiloh Keo was held out for much of the day with a minor calf injury and defensive tackle Michael Cosgrove didn’t scrimmage while recovering from having “about 900 pounds come down on his back” in Wednesday’s scrimmage, Akey said. Cosgrove practiced Saturday and appears to be OK. … Idaho is awaiting clearance from the NCAA on defensive lineman Henry Asuega, who hasn’t been on the field since camp started. Akey said he expects the NCAA to give Asuega the green light sometime this week.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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