MOSCOW, Idaho – Back in mid-August, a week into fall camp, Idaho offensive coordinator Steve Axman surveyed the Vandals’ collection of wide receivers and was encouraged by what he saw.
“I think we’re on our way of developing a real nice corps of receivers,” he said at the time.
Axman may have been spot-on in his assessment – if only UI’s wideouts could stay healthy.
Justin Veltung went down with a turf toe injury during the first preseason scrimmage that he re-aggravated last week. Preston Davis was lost for the season with a broken foot before Week 1. And Armauni Johnson broke his arm last week and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Of the Vandals’ top four receivers before the season, only Mike Scott – who was invited to camp as a walk-on – is available for today’s game at San Jose State (1 p.m., SWX and ESPN3.com).
“It’s hard to find a rhythm,” said Scott, Idaho’s leading receiver with 41 catches. “I don’t know if it’s because of the personnel that we have in the game and who’s in and who’s not and switching all that up. I’m not sure really what it is, but I can just play my part and do what I can.”
The Vandals (1-7, 0-4 in the WAC) are trying to shake a six-game losing streak, and much of the attention has been on the spotty quarterback play. But injuries at receiver have also factored into UI’s offensive funk.
With just 85 yards through the air from Taylor Davis and Brian Reader last week in a gut-wrenching loss to Hawaii, Idaho has plummeted to 86th nationally in passing – after ranking 10th last season.
“It’s obvious when you throw for 85 yards in a ballgame that something’s not getting done real well in that respect,” coach Robb Akey said.
The coaching staff watched Davis and Reader’s performance closely throughout practice this week and named a starter Thursday. But Akey would not disclose the decision when reached Friday afternoon.
Whether it’s Reader or Davis at QB, Scott hopes this is the weekend the Vandals finally live up to their promise on offense. The 5-foot-11 junior grew up in East Palo Alto, less than 25 miles from San Jose State’s campus.
“All my family is going to be there, all my friends,” Scott said. “It’s going to definitely be a nice homecoming playing in front of a big crowd.”