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Sports >  Idaho football

Idaho football energetic on first day of spring practice

UPDATED: Tue., March 29, 2022

By Peter Harriman The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho – On Idaho football coach Jason Eck’s first day of spring practice, the dedicated football fan might have picked up on the painstaking attention to playing with leverage and taking proper angles the Vandals’ new staff stressed to the players.

“We have a lot of good teachers on the staff,” Eck said. “But it’s not what we know as coaches. We’ve got to get the players to do it.”

However, even a casual fan who saw the Vandals at work last season and again Monday would have noticed a couple of notable changes. Courtesy sound track alternating between urban contemporary and country, Idaho practiced with music booming across the field.

“It’s nice to get a little energy going with music at practice,” Eck said. “We’ve got to play at Montana this year. We better be able to operate in loud noise.”

There was also no missing the fierce-looking implement he wielded at the conclusion of practice, a silver battle ax like the ones the Vandals’ fifth-century namesakes employed to wicked effect. Eck plans to award it to a player after every practice. Sophomore defensive end Malakai Williams was the first recipient. “He was in the backfield a lot,” Eck said.

The players were in shorts, jerseys and helmets and did not tackle, but in 11-on-11 periods, an energetically shifting defense had the advantage early as the Vandals ran plays at a lively tempo. Sophomore cornerback Arnell Walker and junior linebacker Hogan Hatten each made interceptions.

“The defense was very good in the first segment. They were really locked in,” Eck said . “The communication was good. They were making the calls. Offense takes a little longer to click.”

By the end of the two-hour session, though, wide receivers Jermaine Jackson and Michael Noil had secured catches while tightly covered, and sophomore tight end Jake Cox and sophomore wide receiver Jalen Grable each caught touchdowns from sophomore quarterback C.J. Jordan.

“C.J. had a couple of nice plays on third downs,” Eck said.

“I was excited to get out there with the guys again,” said Jordan, who had an impressive debut against Southern Utah last spring. He went 16-of-27 passing for 183 yards in three quarters and rushed for 38 yards before being lost for the remainder of the season with an injury.

Idaho has a half-dozen quarterbacks on the spring roster, and Eck said he wants to distribute practice repetitions to all of them in early workouts. But he plans to decide on depth at the position by the spring game. In any event, on the first day, Jordan took the initial reps and seemingly the majority of them.

“I felt a lot more comfortable at the end of practice,” he said. “I felt good about it.

“I’m one of the younger guys, but I have to take a leadership role, motivate myself and know my role as a leader of the offense and the team.”

He added he appreciates the candor in Idaho’s new coaching staff.

“It’s more organized overall,” he said of the approach to practice. “The coaches straight up let us know what we have to do on the field to be better and how to prepare off the field. Small details are super important to us. They’re very important on every play, every down.”

Eck said he was pleased with Idaho’s first spring workout under his leadership.

“The energy was good today. With energy and effort, you give yourself a chance. We’ve got some details to clean up. But we’ve got tape to teach from.”

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