MOSCOW, Idaho – Leave the speculation on whether Idaho will return its football program to the Big Sky to social media and online message boards.
It’s time to play actual football.
Idaho ends its 2016 spring football practices at 7 p.m. on Friday with its annual Silver and Gold scrimmage at the Kibbie Dome.
The Vandals are making it a weekend-long celebration with a block party in downtown Moscow in the afternoon along with a football fan seminar and scholarship-funding banquet on Saturday.
As for the game itself, returning depth will allow Idaho coach Paul Petrino to divide his team between starters and reserves for the most part.
“Because of our depth it’ll probably be the ones against the twos,” Petrino said.
The fourth-year coach hopes to see a team befitting of building on its breakthrough 4-8 season, and one which could participate in the bowl season for the first time since 2009.
“To have real good execution with the ones, have the ones go out there and know their assignments,” he said of his expectations. “No assignment errors, play with great effort and execute real well.”
Among the heavier question marks as spring comes to a close is the progress backup quarterback Jake Luton has made while incumbent starter Matt Linehan sits out recovering from foot surgery.
The son of former Idaho quarterback Scott Linehan has taken the role of his dad, who is currently calling the shots for the Dallas Cowboys offense, as a coach while rolling around practice on a scooter.
“Matt is in all the meetings,” quarterbacks coach Charley Molnar said. “During practice he stands right next to me, he’s in my ear constantly so I know he’s locked in.”
While Petrino remains coy when it comes to whether Luton actually has an opportunity to supplant Linehan as thestarter, there are plenty of obvious competition spots on the field.
True freshman Noah Johnson graduated early from high school to join the Vandals and has garnered a starting spot on the offensive line thus far. Wide receivers and defensive backs will see a fair amount of rotation during the game, as will the running backs and defensive line positions.
“The thing about Noah, he should be getting ready to go to prom, instead he’s starting with the ones right now,” Petrino said. “He has a chance to be a really good player for us.”
Entrenched starters will also be given an opportunity to shine in new leadership roles, such as Tueni Lupeamanu on the defensive line and Jayshawn Jordan occupying a safety spot in the defensive backfield.
Idaho opens the regular season at home on a Thursday night, Sept. 1 against Montana State.
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