Michael Harrington and Steven Wichman have battled for the starting quarterback job at the University of Idaho throughout spring drills and fall camp.
What’s a few more days?
“Not yet,” Holt responded Monday when asked for the umpteenth time if has decided on the starter for Thursday’s opener against Washington State. “We’ll figure it out in a couple of days. Nothing’s holding us back; we’re just taking our time.”
Neither Harrington, who started every game last season, nor Wichman, who has a stronger arm but doesn’t know the offense as well, have created enough separation to make this a clear-cut decision.
“They’re both doing better,” Holt said. “It’s not a tough decision; we’re just making sure they get all the reps. We don’t need to name a starter today, that’s just for you (media) guys. We’ll have a starter by Thursday. You guys don’t have to worry about anything.”
Harrington has started twice versus the Cougars, but has yet to direct a scoring drive. In the 2003 season opener at then Seahawks Stadium, he was 15 of 34 for 162 yards with three interceptions in a 25-0 loss. Last year, Harrington was 12 of 18 for just 66 yards with one interception in a 49-8 defeat. Idaho scored on a touchdown pass from Brian Nooy to Ryan Heacock in the fourth quarter. Vandal quarterbacks were sacked six times in the two games.
Both quarterbacks figure to play Thursday, but Holt hasn’t met with his staff to outline the process.
Holt wouldn’t be the first coach to hold out on publicly announcing his starter until the last minute. Washington’s Tyrone Willingham on Monday declined to identify his starting quarterback for UW’s opener versus Air Force. When Idaho opened last season against Boise State, BSU coach Dan Hawkins refused to name his starter publicly. In pre-game warm-ups the public address announcer at Bronco Stadium told the crowd Jared Zabransky and Mike Sanford were both starters. Zabransky eventually got the nod.
UI receivers Christan Populis and Wendell Octave are both from Louisiana and many of their family members had to evacuate prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.
“My parents left Sunday and made it to Houston,” said Populis, who lives in Boutte, about 15 minutes from New Orleans. “We have no idea about our house. I tried to call everyone down there, but all the circuits are busy and I can’t speak to anyone.”
Octave is from St. James, which is roughly midway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
“He said he can’t get in touch with anyone either,” Populis said. “I think some of his family went to Houston as well.”
Nate Nichols has emerged as the starter at outside linebacker, but Josh Bousman and Robert Davis could see significant time, Holt said.
Elsewhere, Holt preferred to answer in generalities when asked if starters had emerged in several position battles.
At defensive end and cornerback, Holt mentioned four names at each position (cornerbacks Jason Martin, Reggie Jones, Herb Cash and DeAngelo Ramsey, and ends Mike Bonelli, Charles Campbell, Ben Alexander and Josh Shaw). Ramsey could see time returning kicks.
“We’ve got guys to choose from (at corner) which is good because of all the open offenses were going to see,” Holt said.
Guard Desmond Clark, bothered by recurring migraines, practiced Sunday and should play Thursday.
“We’re changing medicines trying to find something that can work for the young man,” Holt said.
Student tickets available
There are 300 student tickets available for Thursday’s game through the UI ticket office at the Kibbie Dome. Cost is $23 per ticket. Students must show their Vandal card.
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