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Sports >  Idaho football

Idaho Vandals’ offense flashes at scrimmage with spring game approaching

By Peter Harriman For The Spokesman-Review

The investor’s mantra – past performance does not predict future result – may be a cautionary tale for Idaho fans anticipating the Vandals’ kicking off against Washington State to begin the 2022 football season Sept. 3.

Much can happen between now and then.

“I’m glad it’s not till September,” Vandals’ coach Jason Eck remarked with a smile Saturday.

However, a sunny, mid-50s April morning that foreshadowed conditions Idaho could see in Martin Stadium four months from now, offered plenty to anticipate as the Vandals concluded their on-campus spring scrimmages. Idaho has a week of spring workouts remaining, culminating in a spring game at Eagle April 29.

The offense flashed early with back-to-back touchdowns on two series, and the defense caught up by stoning a fourth-and-1 running attempt at the 5-yard line as the defensive line got a decisive push, and senior linebacker Fa’Avae Fa’Avae applied the finishing touch.

“That was a big stop. It was good to see,” Eck said. “The number one defense played pretty well.”

Fa’Avae moved from weakside to middle linebacker this spring and embraces the position change.

“The scheme is definitely different. There are a lot of blitzes designed into it. I like it.”

Idaho targeted tight ends consistently through the scrimmage, and redshirt sophomore Alex Moore responded with a pair of touchdowns.

“He has showed up every day this spring,” said Eck. “In three scrimmages, he’s got four touchdowns.”

Junior safety Sean McCormick, who broke up a pass and made an interception, also caught Eck’s eye.

“McCormick had a good day. He’s been running with the second group. He has entrenched himself as our third safety,” Eck said.

The offensive line has developed cohesion throughout spring workouts, and Eck said seniors Logan Floyd, Beau St. John and Jason Hahlbeck have emerged as standouts. But Eck ruefully acknowledged the centers did not star Saturday. Quarterbacks C.J. Jordan, Tyler Webb, Gevani McCoy and Macloud Crowton had to be alert to field low snaps.

“We’ve got to improve on our snaps. It’s got to be like breathing. You want it natural,” Eck said.

Idaho’s new coaching staff has installed most of what it had hoped to on both offense and defense, according to Eck.

On offense, “there’s some two-back stuff we want to put in. But you don’t want to overload people.”

Despite having to overcome injuries to cornerbacks this spring, the defensive backfield has also adjusted to a defensive philosophy that involves less off-ball technique than the Vandals played in the past.

“We don’t want to be backpedaling all the time. You want to make sure you’re aggressively challenging teams,” Eck said.

Vandals’ kickers didn’t miss Saturday, and Eck said both Logan Prescott and Ricardo Chavez are likely to play regularly in the fall.

“They’re both very good, and they can both do all three things: field goals, kickoff and punt. We’re probably going to end up with both of them being involved.”

Going into the final week of practice before the spring game, the depth chart is taking shape.

“We’re close to finalizing our evaluations,” said Eck.

For players like Fa’Avae, who expect to be major contributors next fall, spring practice has been a venue for taking on those responsibilities. “I definitely have to be the quarterback of the defense,” he says.

In rising to that challenge, Fa’Avae is supported by advice from former teammate, 2021 first-team All-Big Sky Conference linebacker Tre Walker. Fa’Avae had an opportunity to visit with Walker at Idaho’s pro day March 28.

“He told me to step up and be that guy.”

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