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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Idaho’s quarterback picture three practices in

Through Saturday the Vandals have hit the practice field three times, and only in pads once on Saturday. 

It's hard to read too much into the quarterback competition until scrimmages and ultimately the spring game. But I've seen enough in team drills to make some early assessments. 

I was able to talk to quarterbacks coach Bryce Erickson about where the quarterbacks stand and got some good stuff. 

 

Matt Linehan
Redshirt sophomore
6-foot-3, 210 pounds. 

Last season: Linehan started 10 games last season though didn't maintain a consistent season. He was sidelined against New Mexico State after a concussion and was benched for large portions of the Arkansas State and San Diego State contests because of chronic turnover problems. Linehan gave the ball away five times against the Red Wolves. Still, Linehan was the first quarterback to lead Idaho to 30 or more points in multiple games since Nathan Enderle in 2010. 

Spring outlook: Linehan spent part of his winter in Dallas working out with his father, former Idaho quarterback Scott Linehan, who is the passing-game coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. Four-time Pro Bowler Tony Romo also offered up some advice. Linehan has by far looked the best quarterback through the first three practices. He's sharp on his accuracy, has as much zip on the ball as you want, throws on the run very well and clearly has the respect of the offense in the huddle. However, we won't see if Linehan can consistently take care of the football until he can show it scrimmages and during the spring game. Until then, the gap between Linehan and Luton won't grow. 

What coach Erickson says: "He knows he’s coached to focus on what he’s taught here and any little extra stuff he can get from his dad and Tony (Romo) is great. Matt’s work ethic in general, his off-season work ethic, he got stronger in the weight room, which has helped him speed wise. He’s gotten faster, his arm strength has gotten better." 

Jake Luton
Redshirt freshman
6-foot-6, 220 pounds

Last season: Luton arrived at Idaho from Marysville-Pilchuck, where the game plan was to run the ball, then run the football and then after that, you run the football some more. The Tomahawks rarely put the ball in the air. That is until Luton took the reigns of the starting quarterback job, and even then the Tomahawks only aired it out only 10 to 15 times. Luton barely became the first Tomahawk quarterback in over two decades to surpass 1,000 yards passing. So, he spent 2014 redshirting, digesting the playbook and working on his throwing mechanics. 

Spring outlook: Cannon. Rocket. Powerful. These are just some of the things being said about Jake Luton's right arm. It's the most golden arm in the quarterback competition. There's no doubt that Luton is capable of making any throw in the playbook, and that's been displayed through the first three practices. What coaches need to see if Luton can be accurate, add touch to his throws, take control of the huddle and is able to read defenses. There's little doubt that Luton has enough talent to stick with Linehan for the starting job through the fall. But again, it'll go down to scrimmages and the spring game before we can really assess where Luton is at. 

What coach Erickson says: "The more reps he gets the better he is going to become as far as knowing where to go with the football. We know he can make the hard throws and rifle it, but he’s got to have some arm talent and make the different touch throws. When he has a shallow cross to take it off a little bit and continue to work on his accuracy. Being that he was a pitcher he gets a little over extended sometimes, so he needs to do a good job of getting his back foot under his back hip. That will get him upright and he’ll get more accurate."

Gunnar Amos
Freshman
6-foot-1, 185 pounds

Last season: Amos was a senior quarterback at Coeur D'Alene and continued where Chad Chalich left off, leading the Vikings to a high volume scoring attack. But much like Chalich, Amos didn't get very many Division I looks at quarterback. Idaho originally recruited Amos as a defensive back, but Amos committed with the opportunity to compete at quarterback. 

Spring outlook: Amos isn't in the picture to be the starter, but that doesn't mean he isn't important to Idaho's plans right now. Quarterback depth is critical, which means Idaho will want to develop Amos as much as it can throughout the spring. It will take some time. Amos comes from a good football background (his father is the CDA coach) and has been applauded by coaches for his work ethic and intelligence. He's also very physically raw. He'll need to grow into a Division I type quarterback frame and develop his throwing strength. He's had difficulty making all of the throws during the first three practices, but what's been very evident is that Amos is easily the most athletic of Idaho's three quarterbacks.

What coach Erickson says: "We kind of threw Gunnar into the fire and he’s done a great job. He’s athletic, he’s still got a lot to learn, but he’s a great kid and he’s phenomenal away from football. He’s a great kid and puts in a lot of effort."



Sean Kramer
Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.





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