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Sports >  Idaho football

Idaho football shows its ability to rush the passer during preseason scrimmage

Aug. 11, 2022 Updated Thu., Aug. 11, 2022 at 5:57 p.m.

Gevani McCoy, one of four Vandals competition for starting quarterback, warms up before Thursday’s workout at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Gevani McCoy, one of four Vandals competition for starting quarterback, warms up before Thursday’s workout at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Peter Harriman For The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho – Following the first scrimmage of the preseason Thursday, the Idaho Vandals are not where they want to be when they meet Washington State in the season opener for both teams Sept. 3.

Maybe they can’t even see it yet, but at least they have an idea of what they do well and what they either need to improve or to hide from the Cougars.

The 80-plus-play workout disclosed a team that can get after the passer, can run, and has three quarterbacks and eventually perhaps four who can deliver big throws to capable receivers.

But the Vandals are not large across the defensive front and may struggle against physical teams that like to run. Luckily, coach Jason Eck said, Idaho doesn’t play the Big Sky Conference’s most potent rushing games this year, Montana State and Weber State.

“(But) we’ve got to do a better job of eliminating those 5-yard runs on first down,” Eck said.

Running backs Roshaun Johnson, Aundre Carter and Elisha Cummings are key contributors for the Vandals.

On the offensive side of the line of scrimmage, Logan Floyd, Abe Christensen, Elijah Sanchez, Beau St. John and Jason Hahlbeck protected passers and opened lanes for running backs throughout the scrimmage. But the efficiency of the blocking up front fell off noticeably when the second and third lines played.

“We’ve got six offensive linemen who are good Big Sky linemen,” Eck said. “But we need to keep developing guys.”

The Vandals are no closer to picking a starting quarterback than they were at the start of preseason camp, Eck said. Idaho could open the season playing two.

“I’m not opposed to playing two,” Eck said. “But we’ve got to narrow it to two.”

C.J. Jordan, Gevani McCoy, J’Bore Gibbs and surprising freshman Jack Layne, from Lake Oswego, Oregon, all drew attention in the scrimmage. Jordan found Terez Traynor in single coverage and delivered a 45-yard strike to the 5-yard line. He then threw across his body to hit tight end Alex Moore in the end zone.

McCoy and Moore linked up on a 16-yard completion across the middle.

Gibbs threaded a 40-yard completion between two defensive backs to Jordan Dwyer, and Payne threw a pair of touchdowns, to Travis Jerome and Trais Higgins, respectively. The throw to Higgins on third-and-goal at the 6-yard line concluded the scrimmage.

Gibbs also threw an interception near the goal line that Kyrin Beachem returned 65 yards, and Layne lost his helmet and the ball when he took off running and was rocked at about the 5-yard line by cornerback Jordan Velasquez. He lost the ball a second time on a fumbled snap that linebacker Jake Kindel recovered.

As Idaho continues camp, Eck said it needs to dial up the pressure on quarterbacks.

“We need more two-minute situations. That’s the great separator of quarterbacks,” he said.

The defense get pressure on every QB, especially working against the second and third offensive lines.

Juliano Falaniko, a transfer from USC who opened camp as a linebacker but has been moved to defensive end, won the daily practice award, largely because of his pass rushing.

Eck said he was pleased in general with the pressure defenders applied. Linebacker Hogan Hatten and defensive lineman Aamarii Notice had a sack in the same series against reserve offensive linemen. Earlier, Hatten forced a Jordan fumble that fellow linebacker Sully Shannon returned 25 yards for a score.

Eck said Idaho’s tradition of stellar linebacker play looks to be in good hands. He singled out starters Fa’Avae Fa’Avae, Mujeeb Rufai and Notre Dame transfer Paul Moala as leading the way for the linebackers in the scrimmage.

The Vandals completed the workout without losing anyone to injury.

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