Justing Veltung, Idaho's marquee receiver, is back at practice and participating in individual and position workouts. That's the good news for Veltung and the Vandals. The bad news: Veltung has yet to be cleared for contact drills in practice. He said it “looks iffy right now” that he'll play on Saturday vs. North Dakota (2 p.m., Kibbie Dome).
Read on for more about Veltung and Preston Davis, Idaho's other top wideout.
It's been nearly a month since Veltung went down in the Vandals' first scrimmage of fall camp with a turf toe injury. A day after he was hurt, coach Robb Akey said he hoped Veltung would be back in 7-10 days. But turf toe injuries have a tendency to linger, and that's exactly what happened in this case.
The problem in Veltung's case is that he can't accelerate and cut at full speed while running routes. In other words, his explosiveness isn't back yet. Which is a major issue for the 5-foot-11 junior.
“Right now I can jog and cut and do all that, but as soon as I try to explode — which is everything to me — I can’t really use all my speed,” he said after Wednesday's practice.
Is Veltung frustrated by how long it's taken to recover? “Yeah, it’s real frustrating,” he said. “I feel like I’m so close but I’m just not there yet. And I’ve just been watching practice for close to a month now. So it’s probably the most aggravating thing I’ve been through since I’ve been at Idaho.”
The absence of Veltung and Davis last week clearly had an effect on quarterback Brian Reader and the Vandals' offense in a 32-15 loss to Bowling Green. Reader was 19 of 43 with an interception and two fumbles. He looked out of sync most of the game with the receivers who were filling in (with the exception of emerging threat Mike Scott), and Veltung quickly noticed that the offense didn't have the same confidence it showed in camp.
“We looked good coming out the first drive,” he said. “We marched right down and scored. And then as soon as a little bad thing happened, it was like a domino effect. Everyone’s heads just went down. We weren’t really playing as a team, how we played like during camp. I didn’t think we were all one, going for the same goal. And once that happened, we just started pointing fingers or everyone’s head went down.”
Davis, meanwhile, is a senior who tore his ACL last spring and seemed to be finally recovered before injuring his foot a week before the opener. He could miss another three to four weeks.
The setback came after offensive coordinator Steve Axman said it looked like Davis had a “new lease on life” with how he was peforming in camp.
“You can see it in his face — he’s just mad,” Veltung said of Davis. “He’s just disappointed. There’s nothing he can do. He’s just going to try to get back as soon as he can.”