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Idaho Football

Head coach Jason Eck turns up the pressure on Idaho’s youngsters at Vandals scrimmage

Idaho Vandals offensive lineman Abe Christensen celebrates with teammates during Saturday’s scrimmage at the Kibbie Dome.  (Courtesy Idaho Athletics)
By Peter Harriman For The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho – The final series of Idaho’s scrimmage Saturday featured the added motivation of winning to avoid 100-yard sprints.

It was a day for young players as Vandals as coach Jason Eck had the third offense and third defense go at it from 10 yards out to see whether the entire offense or defense would lose the competition and have to run as punishment. The first and second teams did their part, contributing a cheering section on the sidelines.

The defense looked good early with three stops for no gain and allowing only a short pass, abetted by delay of game and illegal motion penalties, and had the offense backed up on the 15-yard line on fourth down.

But a pass interference gave the offense the ball at the 2-yard line.

From there, freshman quarterback Ridge Docekal snagged a high snap and rushed into the end zone to snatch a victory for the offense.

Docekal said there was no chance he would come up short.

“I knew the stakes,” he said. “I made the effort to get it in.”

His exuberance mirrored freshman cornerback Ormanie Arnold a couple of series earlier. Arnold brought all of his 150 pounds into a pair of rattling tackles on quarterback CJ Jordan, and backed that up by breaking up a pair of passes aimed at freshman Tommy Hauser and redshirt junior Zach Borisch. It was Arnold’s first day back from a hamstring injury.

“My coach always said, ‘If you can make one play, try to make another one,’ ” Arnold said.

“We’re thin at corner,” Eck said. “If we can get (Arnold) going, that would be great.”

The Vandals are still trying to get down to two quarterbacks who could play when they open the season against Washington State on Sept. 3. Redshirt junior J’Bore Gibbs, a transfer from South Dakota State, and redshirt freshmen Jordan and Gevani McCoy are making it easy for coaches to decide the odd man out. Jordan and McCoy got the majority of reps.

Gibbs made a case for himself, however, when on first down he threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to freshman Trais Higgins, who carried it the final 20 yards.

In one drive, Jordan scooped up a low snap to gain 6 yards to the 9-yard line and found Borisch in the end zone for a score. In another, McCoy had a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alex Moore.

On another play, McCoy, who tossed across the formation to sophomore running back Elisha Cummings in the backfield, was the recipient of a throwback screen from Cummings. McCoy took it 20 yards around right end for a touchdown against the No. 2 defense.

Eck said not to read too much into who got the most reps.

“We’re still evaluating them,” Eck said.

A couple of probable starters missed the scrimmage with injuries, but Eck said graduate transfer offensive lineman Jason Hahlbeck and redshirt sophomore receiver Terez Traynor are expected back by the opener. Freshman quarterback Jack Layne was also out with an injury, but Eck also expects him back soon.

Both starting and reserve offensive lines were plagued by high and low snaps in the workout. Those may have contributed to what Eck called a solid display of 4-yard runs by Cummings, senior Roshaun Johnson, redshirt junior Aundre Carter, junior Nick Romano and freshman Anthony Woods, but a day devoid of enough explosive plays for Eck’s liking.

Woods contributed one big play. Operating behind the second offensive line, with Gibbs at quarterback, he took a handoff around the right corner and raced 35 yards to the end zone.

The final series featuring the third-team offense and defense, with repeat 100-yard sprints on the line for the loser, fired up the onlooking players.

“We just all like to compete,” cornerback Arnold said. “The offense made a great play.

“It was Vandals beating Vandals.”