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Akey sees progress in Idaho QB candidates

Idaho coach Robb Akey enters his sixth season with Vandals. (Associated Press)
Idaho coach Robb Akey enters his sixth season with Vandals. (Associated Press)

MOSCOW, Idaho – A third of the way through spring camp, Idaho’s quarterback duel remains far from settled. Still, coach Robb Akey is seeing hints of progress from Dominique Blackman and Taylor Davis.

Even if the improvement is not always on the field.

“I’m in the meeting room with these guys,” Akey said, “and we’re going through where you’re going to go with a play, what you’re going to do with a check. There’s a lot more than just getting a ball delivered on a play that (is involved with) playing quarterback.

“They’re getting a good feel for it.”

During a 90-minute scrimmage Saturday morning inside the Kibbie Dome – the first of the spring – Davis and Blackman both showed promise and a good bit of rust. Davis completed 6 of 15 passes for 88 yards and Blackman was 8 of 11 for 108 yards and the only two touchdowns of the day.

Blackman, a 6-foot-5 left-handed transfer who sat out last year, was on the field for two fumbles on QB-center exchanges. Davis, who started three games in 2011, had two TD passes on the first drive negated by penalties.

With the offense often failing to cash in on opportunities, place-kicker Trey Farquhar made 5 of 7 field-goal attempts (two from 40-plus yards).

“They’re both great quarterbacks,” receiver Mike Scott said. “As far as the battle, it’s kind of day-by-day. One day one guy will have a little better of a day than the other guy. And some days it will be a head-on-head battle. It’s kind of like of coin toss.

“But the thing I like about that is how they’re battling. They both show that they really want that position, and it comes down to who makes the least mistakes.”

Saturday was the fifth of 15 spring sessions for the Vandals, and Akey said neither quarterback has separated from the other. Third-string QB Logan Bushnell also took limited snaps during the scrimmage.

UI has shielded Blackman and Davis from the media since the start of spring practice.

Bass bounces back

A year ago at this time, running back Ryan Bass had major expectations. The high-profile Arizona State transfer declared he wanted to get 20 carries a game and be the starting tailback in his first year at Idaho.

But Bass battled injuries and a puzzling stomach ailment last season that sidelined him for much of the end of the year. In seven games, he had just 44 rushing attempts.

For the first time since August, Bass said he’s fully healthy and is excited to be the most experienced member of UI’s reshuffled tailback group.

The senior-to-be had just 15 yards on eight carries Saturday, but he said the coaching staff has been “taking it easy on me.”

His sickness, which he described as “really serious,” struck him in fall camp last year. He couldn’t shake it through the whole season, during which time he lost 15 pounds.

“It affected everything,” Bass said. “I had no energy. I could never eat.”

Bass hasn’t experienced symptoms recently, and he’s resolved to do “less talking and more playing on the field.”

“This is most definitely my group to lead,” he said of the tailbacks. “I’m just trying to lead by example and work hard everyday.”


Mike Levenseller, UI’s yet-to-be-named receivers coach, was on the sideline Saturday. He’s been serving as a consultant before joining the program officially. … Offensive lineman Jordan Johnson has been out since March 24 with an ankle injury. Akey hopes to have him back this week. Three other linemen are not participating in spring camp. … With the O-line limited, defensive tackle Jesse Davis saw time blocking for the field-goal unit.