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Qbs, Defense Stand Out In Final UI Scrimmage But Tormey Says ‘We Have A Long Way To Go’ Before Opener

The toll of two-a-day drills on hot August days was showing as the University of Idaho football team went through its final scrimmage of the two-a-day period.

But coach Chris Tormey still saw plenty of good as the Vandals gear up for their Aug. 30 opener at Air Force.

First, the quarterbacks, while not quite as crisp as they were during the first scrimmage, threw for 456 yards. Second, the defense was sharper, which was a factor in the 48 percent (26 of 54) completion percentage by the four quarterbacks. Third, there were fewer penalties, turnovers and mental blunders.

“I thought we were sluggish offensively, compared to last week,” Tormey said. “But the defense played a part in that. We were tackling better and made fewer mental mistakes.”

Any enthusiasm over the team’s progress, however, is tempered by a Western Athletic Conference team looming just seven days away.

“We’ve gotten a week better, but we’re about where we were last year after the second scrimmage,” Tormey said. “We have a long way to go before we’re ready to play Air Force.”

Tormey’s areas of concern are centered around the development of the offensive line, which is blending three new faces in with returning starters Crosby Tajan (left tackle) and Bill Verdonk (center), and the defensive front, which is working to replace Ryan Phillips (New York Giants) and Barry Mitchell (Atlanta Falcons).

“We’ve come a long way in the offensive line, but we still have inexperienced players there who need some game time,” Tormey said.

He sees the same progression on defense, where Tim Wilson (tackle) returns and Garner Moody (tackle) is back after missing 1996 with an ankle injury.

“The defensive line has come a long way, but we’ve got a lot of improvement to make in the next three to four weeks,” Tormey said.

Brian Brennan, who has secured the starting quarterback job, completed 9 of 19 passes for 133 yards and Ed Dean, who has been putting steady pressure on Brennan, completed 13 of 24 for 249 yards but was intercepted once.

Joel Thomas, used sparingly, continues to be a steady force. In addition to carrying the ball six times for 51 yards, he caught one 9-yard pass. Depth in the backfield is solid with the presence of junior Jerome Thomas and freshmen Anthony Tenner and Laki Ah Hi.

Possibly the most depth lies in the receiving corps. While starters Antonio Wilson and Deon Price had sub-par days, Ryan Prestimonico, who is penciled in to start at the inside receiver position, caught two for 54 yards. Matt McElravy and Vern Benard had impressive outings with McElravy pulling in six passes for 83 yards and Benard three for 83 yards.

, DataTimes

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