LEWISTON – Freshman quarterback Gevani McCoy left no doubts as to why he was named Idaho’s starting quarterback after his performance against Washington State last Saturday.
He completed 65% of his passes for 212 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Barring an injury, McCoy seems likely to hold onto the job – putting him on a small list of Idaho freshman quarterbacks to start a majority of games in a season. In the past 16 years, the Vandals have had three freshmen start more than six games.
The last player to do it was current Vandals receivers coach Matt Linehan.
Linehan also fell in his first start, dropping a 38-31 decision on Sept. 6, 2014, to Sun Belt Conference foe Louisiana-Monroe. He finished 26 of 47 with 324 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Linehan was 221-for-339 passing for 2,540 yards, 11 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his first year.
His record as Vandals starter that year was 1-11, his only win a 29-17 decision Oct. 18, 2014, against New Mexico State. He went 5 for 5 for 34 yards but ultimately got injured, forcing Chad Chalich to step in to the game.
Chalich also started seven games as a freshman in 2013 before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury.
He had the best statistical Week 1 performance on the small list of freshman starters, going 19 for 27 with 230 yards and a touchdown. Idaho, however, lost the opener 40-6 to North Texas.
He also had just one victory as a first-year starter, going 1-6 overall. Chalich’s lone win was a 26-24 victory Sept. 28, 2013, against Temple, where he finished 26 of 43 for 310 yards. He added 106 yards rushing, making him one of only five Idaho quarterbacks to run for more than 100 yards in a single game.
He finished his freshman year 113 for 194 for 1,224 yards and five touchdowns, including a string of 152 passes without throwing an interception.
Before Chalich, it was Nathan Enderle. Enderle helped Idaho win its first bowl game in 11 years against Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009. Before that, he played his first game against top-ranked USC.
Enderle finished 16 of 34 for 155 yards and no scores in a 38-10 loss on Sept. 1, 2007.
He played in nine games his freshman season and was 132 of 298 for 1,787 yards, 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Enderle finished that season 1-8 as the starter, his one win a 20-13 victory Sept. 8, 2007, against Cal Poly. He only went 7 for 22 with 101 yards and a score. Later that season, in a 42-35 loss to Northern Illinois, Enderle threw for 423 yards, still a top-10 single-game performance in program history.
Other freshmen who started six or more games for the Vandals include two UI Hall of Famers in Doug Nussmeier and Ken Hobart, who is built eerily similar to McCoy. Two of those guys have won a bowl game and three have played in the NFL.
McCoy’s performance against the Cougars could be considered one of the best Week 1 performances out of a freshman quarterback in almost two decades.
The bar isn’t too high as far as freshman seasons go for Idaho quarterbacks.
If McCoy plays to his potential, he could have one of the most successful freshman seasons from a UI quarterback.
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