This week Idaho welcomed several athletes back onto the gridiron, including senior tailback BRIAN FLOWERS. With two-a-day practices in full swing, the team is getting back into the rhythm of full contact drills. And Saturday marked the first full pads scrimmage of the season...a scrimmage dominated by the Vandal defense.
WEEKEND KICKING REPORT:
The first part of Friday's afternoon practice again was focused heavily on kickoff coverage. No wind to speak of, and Vicente Rico
was consistently knocking the ball 2 yards deep into the endzone. We're certainly not the final authority on kicking expertise, but at this stage we'd say T.J. Conley
looks good punting, Tino Amancio
definitely shows the most consistency with PAT/FG attempts (and we mean this in the most appreciative way possible…he is remarkably consistent and accurate from all distances), and Rico looks solid in kickoffs. From our vantage point Rico gets a bit better distance than Amancio, although Amancio can reach the goal line as well and seems better at spotting his kicks if the coaches call for that action. Time will tell. Conley and Amancio were both booming the ball as punters. Much more consistent thus far in the Vandal kicking game in all regards.
IDAHO WAS WITHOUT
it's top three runningbacks (Brian Flowers, Deonte Jackson
and Jayson Bird
) for Saturday's scrimmage. That should change this week as Flowers gets back into the rhythm of fall drills after missing the first few days of camp. Bird suffered a concussion in a contact drill earlier in the week and Jackson suffered an ankle injury during drills. Neither is expected to be out extensively at this time, but this will be an ongoing situation. In their absence, sophomore Devon Sturdivant
and true freshman Corey White
performed admirably during the scrimmage. Although Flowers was in light dress, he is definitely looking ready for the season to begin, and appears to have added a little bulk since last fall.
Friday night true freshman linebacker Joseph Dickson
and true freshman safety Quin Ashley
were held out of contact drills (Ashley on crutches). As stated in our last report, both of these two freshmen have been particularly impressive. As long as they are healthy, we expect them to see playing time this fall.
TEAM LEADERSHIP AND UNITY
continues to be demonstrated daily. After practice Friday, junior offensive guard Mike Iupatti stayed out to work with some of the defenders. We've never seen anyone so willing to stay on the field working and helping teammates as Iupatti is routinely demonstrating right now. Senior linebacker David Vobora
is pretty much the same. Something else also stands out -- Iupatti is incredibly quick for his size. One of the things he was doing after practice was coming out of a 3-point stance to pick up an outside rush by a D end. His ability shuffle to his left was incredibly quick. During practice we saw one play where he pulled and took on senior middle linebacker Joartis Ratti
. The battle was a standoff, but Iupatti more than did his job.
SENIOR LINEBACKER JOSH BOUSMAN
has moved up to the rush DE/LB position and is backing up fellow senior Ben Alexander
. From our vantage point, despite the position change Josh continues to play his heart out - enthusiastic, supportive, and has a great attitude. These are exactly the kinds of traits one would expect and hope for in a fifth year senior. He will be difficult to contain with his speed off the edge.
THE VANDAL DEFENSIVE LINE
is getting big in a hurry this fall...and without doubt the need for increased size has been well documented. Inside Idaho
can count on warhorses Siua Musika
and Josh Shaw
for strength and experience. It's when these two come out of the game, as well as simply providing more size around them, where the biggest need was this off season. Along with the move of grayshirt freshman Bryan Wilson from tightend over to defensive end/tackle, as well as the anticipated return of JC transfer Marcus Pedro
, the Vandal line has begun rebuilding its ranks. At 6-2, 280-pounds, Wilson definitely has the size to do some serious damage on the line in the years ahead, and has the agility to play either as a defensive end or tackle.
Also added to the mix of new players making noise is true freshman defensive tackle Fonomanu Sekona (6-2, 295), who may work himself into a starting role immediately. Fellow freshman Michael Cosgrove
, at 6-4, 250-pounds, has plenty of frame to be a force in the years ahead, while redshirt freshmen Jonah Sataraka
(6-2, 280) and Aaron Lavarias
(6-3, 250), as well as Idaho native Derek Weiting
(6-1, 245) are working into the 2-deep rotation. Also on the defensive front is grayshirt freshman Jonathan Faraimo
, who worked with the linebackers in the spring and makes the move to defensive end this fall.
We also want to acknowledge freshman walkon Paulati Sevelo out of Anchorage, Alaska. At 6-1, 280 he has the size to work into a role on the Vandal defensive front in the years ahead.
GoVandals.net SALUTES FRESHMAN
cornerback Eric Hunter
for his work at the top of the Vandal cornerback depth chart so far this fall. Against all odds the walkon redshirt freshman remains Idaho's top cornerback, working the field opposite senior phenom Stanley Franks
. It is too early to know how the depth chart will shake out this fall, especially as JC transfers Breyon Williams
and T.J. Taylor
return to full health and improve their grip on the system, but the youngster has demonstrated some skills at the position. He still has plenty to learn from Franks and the Vandal coaching staff, but he has proven to be a fast learner while being fast on his feet.
Stanley Franks (6) and Eric Hunter drop back into a coverage drill|