Who will be Idaho's field general?

WITH FALL CAMP RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER we set our focus on the 2012 Vandal football team. At quarterback two juniors - right hander Taylor Davis and lefty Dominique Blackman - spent the spring digesting Idaho's new look offense and take their battle into fall. First year offensive coordinator Jason Gesser talked to GVN at the end of spring and made it clear what he needs from his field general.

It's been almost half a decade since Idaho had a truly wide open battle at quarterback, but that is the situation the Vandals find themselves in on the doorstep of fall camp 2012. Competing for the top spot are two juniors: Taylor Davis, a fourth-year Vandal out of Anthem (Arizona) who earned playing time last fall including leading Idaho to a win over San Jose State as a starter, and newcomer Dominique Blackman, a highly-touted athlete out of Carson (California) who signed originally with Washington, spent a season at Old Dominion, and joined the Vandal program last year and redshirted the season due to transfer rules.

Both athletes have their strengths - Davis is solid throwing on the run, while Blackman has a cannon for an arm. But during spring drills neither QB rose to the top as both struggled with consistency at times.

Below, in our first primer going into fall camp, we reflect on our discussion with first-year offensive coordinator Jason Gesser about Idaho's quarterback prospects, their strengths, and what they needed to work on this summer going into fall camp.

So who will step forward and lead Idaho in 2012? We will find out in the weeks ahead.






During spring camp we noticed more rolling out and more mobility out of the quarterback position. Is that a change in the offense that Idaho fans can expect this fall?

JASON GESSER: "Well, the thing we're going to be doing is we'll have some boots, we'll have some nakeds, we'll have some waggles. We're going to spread the quarterbacks out a little bit – we're going to change the launching point. You keep them back there all the time and the defense will be like, "Hey, they're going to be here, that's where we're going to attack." But if you change your launching point -- you have play action passes, you have boots and nakeds and spread outs and rollouts and stuff like that -- you're going to be able to complicate the launching point.

"And our guys are athletic enough to be able to do that.

"That's one of Taylor's biggest strengths – being able to throw on the run. Not just off of a boot or anything like that, but just sheer scrambling out and throwing on the run. He's very, very good at that.

"Dominique is pretty decent at that too. He threw a couple nice deep balls on the run [at the end of spring camp]. He needs to be more accurate in the short game with that, but we're working on that.

"But, offensively that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to move that pocket around a little bit, not be so stagnant all the time, and create different launching points for our quarterbacks. Just keep the defense thinking a little bit, help our offensive line out some, and go from there."


How did the quarterbacks develop during spring drills and what are you expecting from both athletes going into fall camp in order for a leader emerge?

JG: "Each one possesses different things that they bring to the table. But, overall, to be a guy that we can win with – they both are progressing really nicely – but they've both got some habits they need to get rid of. Once we get rid of those bad habits, and create good habits and develop how they understand what I expect from them – for them to be an offensive coach on the field, understanding our offense fully, and understanding what I'm trying to accomplish with each called play – that's when we're going to see a true leader start to rise to the top.

"Right now, neither one has pulled away from the other. One guy will have a great practice one day, then it will be exactly flip-flopped the next day. One scrimmage it will be this way, the next scrimmage it will be that way. One drive it will be this way, then the next…

"It truly has just gone back and forth. At the end of the day, with that going on, some may say, ‘That's pretty cool you've got two guys battling it out.' But in my eyes I need to see more consistency. They both need to be more consistent with what they are doing on the field. Once they start doing that, that's when you're going to see that leadership start to emerge.

"They've both come a long way and they continue to grow, but we've got to see who's going to step out in front with this whole thing."


#12 Taylor Davis
Taylor Davis was thrown into the fire last year, playing in a three-game stretch against Hawaii, San Jose State, and BYU. How do you think that will affect him for this season?

JG: "That's going to help him tremendously. The one thing you can't teach, you can't teach experience. You can't teach somebody to go out there, take live reps, and have all the pressure on them. So that helped him out tremendously, and I think it helped to see what it's like to be a starting quarterback, to get a better understanding of the expectation that people have in him, and what he has in himself. What all comes into being the starting quarterback of the team.

"He got a good taste of that last year.

"So now he's carrying himself differently this year. You definitely see him up in the offices more this year, asking more questions, watching more film, being more intent in meetings, and being more competitive on the field. You definitely see that part of him mature and come forward, because he wants to be our starting quarterback. He's trying to do everything he can to be our starting quarterback. So, I think that was a big, big plus for him from this last year.

"I think this year one thing he has to improve upon is his overall understanding of the game. Understanding what's going on around him. Not just saying, "Here's my guy, I've got to throw it to him.' But understanding why he's going to throw it to this guy. Why is he going to be open. Because the defensive secondary rolled over into a blitz and what they're bringing – where am I hot, where is my protection. He's starting to understand the overall scheme of the game a lot better. He still has a ways to go, but he's starting to get better at that."


#3 Dominique Blackman
We know Dominique Blackman came to Idaho with a tremendous resume, ranked the No.58 QB prospect in the nation as a high school senior when he signed with Washington. What does he bring to the Idaho program?

JG: "One of Dom's strengths is that he has been in a couple different systems and he can adapt pretty easily, and he understands the game of football pretty well. He understands defenses pretty well.

"He does have some bad habits – the same as Taylor does – about how they go about doing certain things. We're working on breaking those habits.

"Dom can definitely make the big throw when he needs to make the big throw. Both of those guys can when they need to make it. What we need to get out of them more is to be consistent. Consistency with their first images, with their underneath throws, with their understanding of everything. And not always thinking, ‘Hey, I've got to make the big throw to open everybody's eyes.'

"They need to be the offensive general. They have to run this offense and they have to move the chains. They have to get completions, and then big things will come for us. Both of them are in that category now and they understand what I expect from them."


Is there a chance of a two quarterback system this fall?

JG: "That's a great question. Time will tell."




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