|Spring is here!|
MOSCOW, Idaho – Spring football begins Thursday for the University of Idaho Vandals and coach Robb Akey is approaching it with his usual exuberance.
“We get to kick it off,” Akey said as he addressed the media Wednesday. “We get 15 opportunities. I need guys to go out there with the attitude, ‘I’m going to make myself a better player today.’
“We have from tomorrow until April 20 to gain as much ground as we can to make ourselves the best football team we can be by April 20 so that we’re ready to hit another off-season in the summer and another fall camp before we hit our fall season.”
Akey was the first to acknowledge determining the starting quarterback is foremost on everyone’s minds – and there may or may not be an answer by the time spring drills end.
“No guy is in the lead right now,” said Akey, noting he expects a lively competition between Taylor Davis and Dominique Blackman – both juniors. “We’re going to give them both a great deal of opportunity. If it plays itself out by the end of spring, great. If not, that’s OK, too.”
Whoever the quarterback is, protection will be paramount, which leaves the two returning starters from the offensive line – Mike Marboe and A.J. Jones, with hefty leadership roles. There are plenty of big bodies to fill the gaps created by graduation with part-time starters Jordan Johnson and Guy Reynolds figuring into the equation along with Brady Lisoski, Nick Von Rotz, Cody Elenz and Dallas Sandberg. Come fall, Kyle Salm and Spencer Beale will have recovered from off-season surgeries and will be a part of the mix.
“That’s very important,” Akey said. “It’s as important as who the starting quarterback is going to be.”
Defensively, Akey sees a veteran group from front to back and across the middle. And he likes what he sees.
“That group can hit the floor running,” he said. “Our defense improved a lot as time went on (last season). I’d like to see us take some more strides there.”
Jesse Davis, Maxx Forde, Vince Keener and Benson Mayowa all have experience at defensive end, while QuayShawne Buckley, Karel Kearney and Dontae Scott all spent time on the interior of the line. At linebacker, Robert Siavii is back after a year off with injury and joins fellow returners Conrad Scheidt, Homer Mauga and Su`a Tuala and a host of promising newcomers.
In the secondary, three-year starters Aaron Grymes and Gary Walker are back along with Dion Bass, Tracy Carter, Bradley Njoku, James Randall and Trey Williams – all with varying degrees of experience.
And in the special teams, All-American punter Bobby Cowan returns for his senior season as does kicker Trey Farquhar – one of the most productive kickers in school history.
“I like the attitude this team has carried through the winter,” Akey said. “I’m anxious to get it out on the field and develop it more as a team; as playmakers. We need to define some roles.”
The Vandals will practice at 3 p.m. on March 22, 23, 27 and 29, and April 3, 5, 10, 12, 17 and 19, and at 10 a.m. March 24 and 31, and April 7 and 14. The annual spring finale is April 20 (at 6 p.m.) with the Robb Akey Golf Tournament April 21.
Season tickets go on sale April 9. Contact the UI ticket office at 208-885-6466 or go to www.GoVandals.com or order yours.
Idaho opens the 2012 season at home Thursday, Aug. 30, vs. Eastern Washington. Kickoff is 6 p.m.