Now entering the third week of spring football practice for the Idaho Vandals, the depth chart is starting to come into focus. The Vandals scrimmaged last Saturday and will scrimmage for the second time on Saturday at 10 a.m.
I took notes on what I thought the depth chart was on Saturday and attended practice on Wednesday to check notes and make final observations.
Obviously the competition is fluid at a lot of positions and subject to change, but it all has to start somewhere.
So here's what I got.
1. Matt Linehan, So.
2. Jake Luton, RFr.
3. Gunnar Amos, Fr.
Outlook: Matt Linehan's winter working out with Tony Romo seems to have paid dividends. Linehan has looked the better quarterback in the competition with Jake Luton, displaying an ability to throw outside the pocket during his five-touchdown performance last Saturday. That doesn't mean it's totally over for Luton. He'll have the rest of spring and all summer to close the gap. Linehan has displayed the touch and command of the offense necessary to take control of the job. Luton has displayed a golden arm and good pocket presence, though needs to work on decision making and touch on his throws before he can make it a competition. He'll have plenty of time to do it that over the summer, which is what coaches are going to wait for before declaring a starter. Amos is not in the picture to start, but has progressed well over the spring. His role in the offense is more as a runner and taking advantage of his athleticism. Kareem Coles will join the competition in the fall with his athleticism and powerful but raw throwing arm. He has an opportunity to be the third-string quarterback and appear in special formations.
1. Elijhaa Penny, Sr.
2. Aaron Duckworth, So.
3. Isaiah Saunders, So.
Doug Coman, So.
Outlook: It will be the Elijhaa Penny show in 2015. He dropped nearly 20 pounds in the offseason to get down to 225 pounds. He's still an in-between the tackles and pound-it-out running back, though he's added the ability to elude defenders to his set of skills. Behind him, Aaron Duckworth will provide speed and perimeter ability. Although he is recovering from an injury he sustained in the first scrimmage (complete speculation based on what I saw: concussion). Isaiah Saunders has similar skillsets to Penny and is the third string running back. Spokane's Jack Bamis and the speedy Calvary Pugh join the competition in the spring. Pugh has a good opportunity to fill in the Richard Montgomery role.
1. Dezmon Epps
2. Jacob Sannon
3. David Ungerer
4. Jermaine Johnson
5. Rueben Mwehla
6. Callen Hightower
Outlook: Dezmon Epps is without a doubt Idaho's top receiver. He's demonstrated in every single practice and during the scrimmage, getting open with ease and developing a clean rapport with every quarterback. The question is where exactly where he will play. Epps has lined up in the slot quite a bit, which makes sense because it's game over if he can get numerous matchups with linebackers and safeties. Jacob Sannon has been singled out for a breakout year during his junior season, demonstrating such during the scrimmage and practice on Wednesday making defensive backs look silly with his moves and his physicality at the point of catch. David Ungerer is getting quite a bit of time at outside receiver opposite of Sannon in order to get him on the field at the same time as Epps. He'll have to develop his ability to fight off the press at the line of scrimmage, if he can do that his speed and ability to catch the ball will be put to good use. Petrino is hoping to get a lot of play out of 6-foot-4 senior Jermaine Johnson. Johnson has displayed a good ability to streak down the field, but securing the catch has turned out to be a major problem for him. Mwehla has the speed coaches desire, running the correct routes is his issue. Hightower is depth, who could easily break into the top of the second team if Johnson and Mwehla's problems persist.
Starters: Steven Matlock, Jordan Rose, Dallas Sandberg, Mason Woods.
Competition for fifth starting position: Andrew Erbes, Calvin White, Devin Wintz, Kato Fawkes (Currently injured).
Outlook: This group is still a work in progress. The offensive line on Wednesday had Steven Matlock at center, Calvin White at strong tackle with Andrew Erbes at strong guard, Dallas Sandberg was at quick guard with Jordan Rose at quick tackle. I wasn't able to find out why Mason Woods wasn't in there, but he is a good bet to play strong tackle. White has played quite a bit of quick tackle throughout the spring. It seems coaches want to see what Rose is capable of at tackle. Sandberg is definitely a guard while Matlock is safely entrenched at center, although he can play guard if need be. Erbes is in competition for the guard spot opposite of Sandberg and would likely only garner a starting role if Rose pans out at tackle. Calvin White is the best bet at the moment to take the fifth spot if Rose pans out at guard.
1. Deon Watson
2. Trent "Buck" Cowan
3. Will Schmidt
4. Calvin White. Sort of.
Outlook: Deon Watson's move to tight end has looked good early He's shown a renewed confidence in the passing game. His ability to block well will ultimately be his key to success at the position. Calvin White has a No. 84 jersey to enter in goal line situations.
1. Jake Manley
2. Will Schmidt
Outlook: It's tough to gauge depth behind Manley but if he's not in the formation it's likely that a tight end like Schmidt will be doing the duties.
DE: Tueni Lupeamanu - Zach Cable
Nose: Ryan Edwards - Glen Antoine
DE: Quinton Bradley - Kaylyn Ayers
BUCK: Leonard Hazewood - Kevin Shelton
Outlook: There won't be a lot of competition for the starting spots, the three best players on the line are on the first team. The competition is for who will getting looks in the rotation behind them. Kevin White is also in the picture to get snaps at defensive end behind Cable and Ayers. Hazewood is the stand-up defensive end, known as the Buck. His main role is moving around the formation to find the best lanes to rush the passer.
OLB: Marc Millan - Jack Tate
MLB: Broc Westlake - Ed Hall
OLB: Chris Edwards - Kaden Elliss
Nickel: Armond Hawkins
Outlook: Armond Hawkins is occupying a safety/linebacker hybrid role known as a nickel. He can move all around and be versatile, from preying the line of scrimmage to stop the run to lining up in the slot to cover a receiver. I'm not sure how permanent this is, since it's his first week at practice. If needed I'm sure he will get snaps at cornerback. Kaden Elliss filled in nicely for Chris Edwards, who is out with an ankle injury, during the scrimmage with 19 tackles. Though he saw the field less this week with Hawkins back in the fold.
CB1: Kendrick Trotter - Isaiah Taylor
CB2: Jayshawn Jordan - Dorian Clark
CB5: DJ Hampton
SS: Jordan Grabski - Jordan Frysinger
FS: Russell Siavii - Desmond Banks
Outlook: The competition is still hot at cornerback. Kendrick Trotter has solidified himself as the No. 1 and Jayshawn Jordan seems a safe bet to line up across from him until Dorian Clark can keep receivers from beating him over the top.
Austin Rehkow will maintain the kicking and punting duties for the third consecutive season. I'm still waiting to see more kick and punt returning drills to get a grasp on the returners, although I know Rueben Mwehla will definitely be in the mix.