Idaho Vandals’ young offensive line developing
MOSCOW, Idaho – Mike Marboe was speaking generally when he said the Idaho offense started from scratch this football offseason. But his comment seems especially apt for the offensive line, a unit he now anchors – after a mere 12 starts at center.
Marboe will be a redshirt sophomore in the fall, and he welcomes his role as mentor to the herd of new faces he’s worked with this spring.
Yet he knows in most programs, he would be considered one of the newbies. Not a veteran who shoulders major responsibility.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys,” Marboe said Saturday after the second scrimmage of spring. “I’m not even that old. I’ve played one year. You’ve got to grow up. It’s hard. When you get thrown to the fire, you’ve got to grow up and be a man about it and come into your role.”
Attrition and injuries have forced first-year offensive line coach Gordy Shaw to mix and match inexperienced linemen this spring. The Vandals lost three starters from last year and they’ll be without five injured tackles/guards in Friday’s Silver and Gold game in the Kibbie Dome.
Coach Robb Akey said all five – including Guy Reynolds and Jordan Johnson, both of whom played last year – are expected back in the fall. Nonetheless, the injuries have left UI with nine healthy linemen as it wraps up spring camp.
With the Vandals unable to field a full first and second team, redshirt freshmen left tackle Cody Elenz and Dallas Sandberg have taken almost every snap in practices and scrimmages. Sandberg, in fact, has played all five positions.
“My first spring here I had to take every rep like Dallas and Cody are doing …” Marboe said. “So I feel their pain and every time out there today I just told them to keep fighting.”
Marboe, a 6-foot-2, 303-pound business major, grew up in Wenatchee in a family steeped in Idaho football. His father, Scott, played for UI, as did his uncle and cousin.
Marboe graduated from Wenatchee High early so he could enroll at Idaho a semester before most freshmen signees. This is his third spring camp, and Akey is seeing signs of him maturing into a leader.
“He’s working at that, yes,” Akey said. “And that’s something I like and I’ve been paying attention to with him.”
Outside Marboe, guard A.J. Jones is the only other returning offensive line starter. But Marboe believes the Vandals could have their best offensive line in three years, even with the uncertainty that comes with new personnel, a new line coach and new scheme.
“I think we’re all going to be on the same page the whole time,” Marboe said. “It will be a great season for us, I think. There will be a lot of improvement over where we were the last two years.”
QB battle unresolved
Dominique Blackman started Saturday’s 90-minute scrimmage with a series of precise throws. Taylor Davis ended the scrimmage throwing well. And at different times, each struggled.
The juniors have been in a tight battle for the Vandals’ starting quarterback job, and the competition remains unresolved. Davis was 13 of 20 for 132 yards Saturday, while Blackman was 11 of 16 for 83 yards.
Both QBs slung nice throws that were either dropped by receivers or batted away by defensive backs.
“There was some opportunities to make plays on the ball in the passing game that we didn’t make,” Akey said.
First-year wideout Najee Lovett, who had four catches for 72 yards, said Davis and Blackman seem to go back and forth on a daily basis. “Every day is neck-to-neck to me,” he said.
Idaho’s spring game starts at 6 p.m. Friday. Admission is free. … Backup tight ends Justin Podrabsky, a Lewiston High grad, and Jared Klingenberg left the scrimmage with injuries, both after hauling in catches. Podbrasky went down with a right knee injury and Klingenberg, a redshirt freshman, injured his right shoulder.