MOSCOW, Idaho – When Mike Beaudry gets set in the shotgun against Portland State for the University of Idaho’s homecoming on Saturday, the Vandals quarterback expects to see an array of exotic shifting.
“They do some weird stuff,” Beaudry said of the Vikings. “Positions I’ve never seen. I haven’t seen something like it before. They try to confuse you.”
That includes linebackers walking up to the line and backing off and movement on the defensive front in an effort to get 5-on-5 blocking,
That’s the Desert Swarm flex defense Arizona ran three decades ago, according to Vandals coach Paul Petrino.
But for Beaudry, this will just be a game that adds to a catalogue of a career that has been poised on the edge of going sideways for years but unerringly comes back to its axis.
Beaudry began playing college football at NCAA Division II West Florida, leading it to a national championship in 2017. Afterward, he played five games for Connecticut before getting knocked out by an injury.
The transfer portal led him to Idaho during the pandemic year and an unusual spring season with the Vandals, when he threw for three touchdowns against Eastern Washington in the opening game of a 2-4 season but was then was sidelined by COVID.
Beaudry was engaged in a nip-and-tuck competition with freshman C.J. Jordan this fall.
Both got into a 68-0 rout of Simon Fraser. Beaudry threw for a pair of touchdowns in a 56-14 loss at Indiana, and he and Jordan struggled in a 42-0 loss to Oregon State.
In practice, neither player seemed to outshine the other. But the agile Jordan, who can run and throw effectively on the move in an offense that prizes quarterback mobility, got the call as the starter in Idaho’s first Big Sky Conference game against UC Davis.
It was supposed to be a season-long designation, Petrino said, but in the first series of the first quarter, Jordan suffered a shoulder injury. Beaudry grabbed his helmet and went into the game, completing 22 of 35 passes for 255 yards in a frustrating 27-20 defeat.
Beaudry is the incumbent starter as Jordan recovers from what Petrino said is an injury that could take several weeks to heal.
“Life comes at you fast,” Beaudry said of the circumstances that put the spotlight on him again as Vandals quarterback.
Adapting while keeping the focus forward seems to be the best way to deal with it, and those are skills in the well-traveled Beaudry’s wheelhouse. Beaudry said he expected to play some in the UC Davis game despite Jordan being the starter, and he is not thrilled about the way he regained his position as starting quarterback.
Nonetheless, Beaudry believes his time with the Vandals has equipped him to take advantage of the opportunity.
An intermediate passing attack set up by a credible running game, including a quarterback who can gain yards on the ground, is Idaho’s strategy.
“This is an NFL-style offense,” Beaudry said.
It requires receivers and quarterbacks to react to what they see a defense doing in front of them. Having the chance to run it in the spring makes Beaudry more comfortable .
“I am playing more than thinking,” Beaudry said.
At 6-foot-4 and nearly 250 pounds, Beaudry is as big as any linebacker in the Big Sky. He rises to the challenge of being a running quarterback.
“I like it,” he said. “It gets you into the game.”
As late as Wednesday, Idaho still did not have starting defensive lineman Rahsaan Crawford and wide receiver Hayden Hatten available at practice. Wide receiver Terez Traynor, who had a breakout game against UC Davis with 10 catches for 131 yards, continued to stand out.
“Terez has had two great weeks of practice, Petrino said. “I hope he goes out and has a great game.”
The Vikings (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) are coming off a 20-13 road win against Southern Utah. PSU’s defense gave up only 267 yards of offense and had a fourth-quarter stop that set up the winning touchdown and another stop that denied SUU a potential late score.
History is working against the Vikings. They are 2-12 against Idaho and have never won a game in the Kibbie Dome.
A winning season and potential playoff berth remain possible for the Vandals, according to Beaudry. It took him a while to get to Idaho and regain his role as starting quarterback, but he is confident this Vandals team is where he belongs.
“Everybody wants it,” Beaudry said. “We’re working hard. We want to be there. We love each other.”
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