Head Coach <b>Tom Cable</b>'s third season in Moscow is underway, and the first scrimmage of Fall is in the books. Although several athletes were unable to participate in this afternoon's scrimmage, most of the returning starters, along with junior QB <b>Brian Lindgren</b>, were in full form. We were able to glimpse into some of the changes that have been made since last season, and saw a number of young athletes working their way up the depth chart.
The first scrimmage of fall is in the books, and several key positions appear to still be battling for starting jobs. The most visible battles appear to be on defense, where much of the backfield is still testing different player combinations. The injuries sustained in the days leading up to this scrimmage were relatively minor, but 15 players overall were unable to suit up this afternoon. The most noteworthy absentees were junior tightend Michael McCoy, who continues to recover from off-season hernia surgery (a specific return date is unknown), and senior running back Blair Lewis (ankle).
As expected, the linebacking corp continues to look like a veteran group. James Staley, Patrick Libey, and Jordan Kramer ran with the first team defense and looked sharp. No exotic blitz packages were run, but this group broke on the ball well and were in position to make plays. Chad Kodama, Jordan Lampos and Mike Anderson ran with the second unit most of the day, and also looked strong, headlined by Chad's interception and deep return.
|Jason Jones 6-4, 330, Jr|
The defensive front appears to still be in heavy competition for starting duties, but this group applied good pressure most of the afternoon. JC transfer Jason Jones is as big as advertised, and got alot of reps with the ones, as did junior Brian Howard. This group did a great job clamping down in short yardage situations. Redshirt freshman DE Mike Bonelli applied solid pressure from both ends, and sophomore Brandon Kania and junior Kody Kraus each recorded a sack.
|Mike Anderson, 6-2, 238, RS-Fr
||Jordan Lampos, 5-10, 238, Jr|
The defensive backs are seeing most of the depth chart getting reps with the 1s, 2s and 3s. Neither of the cornerback jobs appear to be solidified. Senior Sergio Robleto (last year's starting strong safety) has really stepped up his game this year. Sammy Ruben has been getting alot of reps at free safety. Sophomore Simeon Stewart and redshirt freshman Nate Nichols have looked good in drills. Today, it was Robleto, Ruben and Stewart who were the most vocal, and all 3 were definitely putting some big hits on the receivers and running backs.
At cornerback, JC transfer Darryl Williams intercepted a pass while Nicq Hale worked with the number 1 defense. For a redshirt freshman, Brandon Mascorro does not look intimidated on the field at all, and looked comfortable running the defensive scheme. Senior Ed Rankin missed practice Friday to attend a wedding, but was back with the team Saturday and played well.
|Darryl Murphy, 5-11, 185, Jr|
|Nicq Hale, 5-10, 171, Sr
||Sergio Robleto, 5-10, 187, Sr|
Looking back on Coach Cable's decision to have junior quarterback Brian Lindgren play in every game last season continues to pay dividends this fall. Having started in 3 games last year, he comes into this season with the experience of a returning starter, not just a very talented backup. He led the offense to a touchdown on its first drive of the scrimmage, and did a great job protecting the ball. He had only a couple incompletions on the afternoon, no interceptions, and threw a touchdown pass. Redshirt freshman Michael Harrington appeared to have a good day throwing the ball as well, but the battle with sophomore Adam Mallette for backup duties continues.
|Orlando Winston, 6-0, 187, Jr|
Its difficult to tell who is moving to the front of the list with respect to the receivers, but junior Orlando Winston looked good today. He's also hit the weights this offseason, and it shows. Senior Josh Jelmberg continues to be a steady target. Senior Kurt Gregg, a first year player who's been a member of the University of Idaho track team the past 3 years, definitely looks like he could become a threat as the season progresses.
Running backs Gerstner, Shaw and Peoples all ran with the first string offense today, and both Peoples and Gerstner piled up the most yards. It will definitely be interesting to see how this unit is implemented during the season when senior Blair Lewis returns. This is a diverse group, with each player having a distinct running style.
As far as the fullbacks, it was good to see sophomore Willie Sipoloa back in the mix after his injury last season. He looked strong in the backfield, as did senior Kevin O'Connell, the workhorse of the group.
|Josh Jelmberg, 6-1, 193, Sr
||Kurt Gregg, 6-3, 193, Sr|
Junior JC transfer Kelly Nead originally joined the Vandals this spring to help the defensive ends. But with the depth we have at that position, and the needs we have at tightend (as junior Mike McCoy continues to recover from his off-season surgery), Kelly has been moved to help a position that is critical to Idaho's offense. At 6-4, 252, plus his experience playing the position at Ricks College, he's a natural fit at tightend. True sophomore Luke Smith-Anderson (6-5, 250) started 3 games last season and played well today, leading all receivers with 72 yards on 5 catches.
The offensive line continues to impress. With Outland Trophy candidate junior Matt Martinez at center, and returning All-Conference tackle junior Jake Scott at weak tackle, this should be a solid group. The only new face on the line is senior strong tackle Josh Jelinek, a converted defensive linemen who returns to the position he was originally recruited to play at Idaho. Its not clear how the rest of the depth chart is shaping up, but this is a big group from top to bottom.
|Kelly Nead, 6-4, 252, Jr
||Luke Smith-Anderson, 6-5, 250, So|
The highlight of the day had to go to junior Cedric Thompson, an elusive runner who returned a kickoff today for a touchdown. Its difficult to judge just how fast a runner really is on a grass playing surface, but we'll suffice it to say he's right up there with the fastest guys on the team.
|Cedric Thompson, 5-8, 175, Jr|
Junior punter Ryan Downes had an admirable performance this afternoon (although the snapper battled the winds blowing at Ryan's back). The same can be said for the kickers (Keith Stamps nailed an impressive 50 yarder). The punt and kick returners, however, had their struggles judging the ball as it carried in the gusty winds (winds famous in Moscow) all day long.
|Ryan Downs, 6-5, 224, Jr|