Spring UPDATE #1

The first two weekends of spring drills are in the books and the second "Dennis Erickson Era" is in full swing. While sophomore wide receiver LEE SMITH and the rest of the Vandal offense works to absorb Erickson's playbook, the defense has had the early upper-hand. Position battles rage on both sides of the ball as redshirts and mid-year JC transfers stake their claim to numerous depth chart slots.

GENERAL OVERVIEW … There was a huge crowd lining the field for the scrimmage Saturday, including a large number of high school players, coaches, and a growing number of Vandal fans at these practices. The weather went from pleasant to inclement, with many of the fans in attendance moving inside to watch the practice/scrimmage from the weight room. Overall, the practice was very intense, particularly when the team scrimmaged. The complete overhaul of intensity that former head coach Nick Holt and his staff infused in this team the last couple years was definitely there. But there was also a lot of teaching going on as well as the new offensive staff works to implement as much of the playbook as possible this spring session. Among the most impressive Saturday was the instruction by offensive line coach Gregg Smith, an O-line coach at all of Dennis Erickson's coaching stops in college (Idaho, Washington State, Miami, Oregon State, etc) and the NFL (Seattle and San Francisco). It's a veteran staff, and it shows.


QB BATTLE … It's well-documented that an intense battle is brewing for the backup quarterback position this fall. Returning starter Steve Wichman, a senior who earned JC Gridwire All-American honors before transferring to Idaho last season, has looked very much the entrenched leader (as one would expect a WAC Player of the Week from last season to look). The backup battle, however, will likely rage well into fall, particularly when the second of two touted high school signees, Jon Tobin (6-4, 210-pounds) joins the team. Early this spring redshirt sophomore Chris Joseph (6-4, 214) has looked solid, and Saturday he led the #2 offense in the team scrimmage. Battling Joseph this spring has been high school signee Nathan Enderle (graduated from high school a semester early and enrolled at Idaho in January), a 6-5, 210-pound prospect with a strong arm out of Nebraska. This battle won't be over anytime soon, so stay tuned for further updates this spring and fall.


TRENCH WARFARE … Despite the losses of senior offensive lineman Hank Therien (6-7, 320, a 3-year starter) and junior Desmond Clark (6-3, 300, started as a true freshman), the Vandals are working to fill the void with a young but talented group that was recruited over the last three recruiting classes (the offensive line was a recruiting focus in '04 and '05). Back this season are two 3-year starters in left tackle Nate VanderPol (6-6, 314) and left guard Jade Tadvick (6-5, 315), plus 11-game starter last season Adam Korby (6-2, 295, sophomore) at center. At right tackle Kris Anderson (6-3, 295), a 9-game starter last season (at guard and tackle), sits atop the depth chart, while last year's Scout Team Player of the Year, redshirt freshman Adam Juratovac, has seen significant time with the #1s at right guard. Also battling for starting duties is junior Marcis Fennell (6-2, 310, has started a games in each of his first two seasons at Idaho) and Billy Bates (6-5, 275, started two games last season at left tackle as a TRUE freshman before an injury ended his season), plus numerous youngsters redshirted and grayshirted last season. With Therien and Clark this would have easily been considered one of the deepest units on the team, but without them several capable athletes will be required to step-up and fill the void.


INSIDE SLANT:

Billy Bates On Saturday the talented hoss out of Beaverton, Oregon worked with the #2 offense at left tackle. Senior Nate VanderPol, a 3-year starter for Idaho, worked with the first unit but Bates will be pushing Nate all season.

Kellen Beam Former Gonzaga Prep tightend Beam, a tall 6-7 prospect, bulked up (currently 260-pounds and growing), moved to tackle last year during his gray shirt season, and Saturday was working at right tackle with the 2nd unit offense. He comes in as a freshman with a redshirt year still available.

Stanley Franks The speedy JC transfer has come in this spring and immediately impressed…so much so that he's working with the starting defense at cornerback already.

Siua Musika He's been a starter at nose guard since the day he stepped on the Idaho campus, but is out this spring recovering from an injury suffered at the end of last season.

Adam Juratovac Last year's Scout Team Player of the Year (offense), Juratovac is entrenching himself at right guard for the Vandals. The redshirt freshman suited up the latter part of last season (redshirt year), and looks to be ready to go now.

Jaron Williams Having worked the last two years behind 1st Team All-WAC middle linebacker Cole Snyder, Williams ran with the #1s Saturday at MIKE and looked impressive.

Mike Iupati Mike was reportedly seen at practice Saturday (as an observer), and VV.com has learned that Mike expects to complete his eligibility this summer. The trench warrior is enormous (estimated to be in the 300-pound range), although it is still unclear whether he'll work the offensive or defensive side of the line.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE … Aside from the players listed below, Saturday's scrimmage saw generous substitutions all around including junior RB Rolly Lumbala with a couple nice runs; sophomores Tracy Ford and Gavin Smith are getting plenty of carries; senior Keith Greer is seeing action at TE and looking good, along with Luke Smith-Anderson. Major substitutions at wide receiver, with receivers all over the place. From our notes, the following were first teamers:

LT - #68 - Nate VanderPol
LG - #50 - Jade Tadvick
C - #72 - Adam Korby
RG - #62 - Adam Juratovac
RT - #65 - Kris Anderson
TE - #45 - Luke Smith-Anderson
QB - #8 - Steve Wichman
RB - #44 - Jayson Bird
WR - #1 - Wendell Octave
WR - #86 - Lee Smith
WR - #81 - Deangelo Ramsey


FIRST TEAM DEFENSE … Same as with the offense, there were generous substitutions with the defensive unit. This is a unit with a lot of Division I experience under their belt, and basking in the continuity on the defensive staff despite the head coaching change a couple months ago. Hence, they've had the upper hand early in fall drills.

DE - #98 - Josh Shaw
NG - #92 - Ryan Davis
DT - #84 - Alex Toailoa
DE - #58 - Ben Alexander
SAM - #31 - Josh Bousman
WILL - #40 - David Vobora
LB - #11 - Jaron Williams
CB - #6 - Stanley Franks
CB - #8 - Reggie Jones
SS - #49 – D.J. Dykes
FS - #16 - Tone Taupule




REMAINING SPRING SCHEDULE

WEEK 2
Tuesday, April 4th - Practice (4PM)
Wednesday, April 5th - Practice (4PM)
Friday, April 7th - Practice (4PM)
Saturday, April 8th - Practice (10am)

WEEK 3
Tuesday, April 11th - Practice (4PM)
Thursday, April 13th - Practice (4PM)
SATURDAY, April 15th - SCRIMMAGE (11AM at Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene)

WEEK 4
Tuesday, April 18th - Practice (4PM)
Thursday, April 20th - Practice (4PM)
FRIDAY, April 21st - SILVER AND GOLD SPRING GAME (7:00 PM)



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