Idaho football team puts a twist on the annual spring game

Apr. 27—MOSCOW — The Idaho football team put a new twist on its annual spring game on Friday at the P1FCU Kibbie Dome. But the results were the same, with several players making a name for themselves ahead of the upcoming season.

The Vandals' starters and key backups wore black jerseys and opposed the second and third-stringers, who donned white uniforms.

The black team won 35-21 and scored three touchdowns on its first four drives.

"I thought the black offense did a good job of moving the ball consistently," Idaho coach Jason Eck said. "I think we have to do a better job of creating some more big plays. The O-line was a little tired after one of those long drives. ... It was a good spring and (we have) some stuff to build on."

The game had four 15-minute quarters, and the white team was spotted 14 points before the start of the contest.

"I like having more of a game format," Eck said. "You get the longer drives, you get the kicking game, you get those guys out there. ... I think it was good. Any time you can make it a little more game-like for them, it's a positive."

Defense dominates the day

Idaho's No. 1 defense recorded 9.5 sacks and had a pick-6 on Friday.

The starting defense had a series where they recorded four straight QB takedowns, two of which came from junior defensive lineman Amarii Notice.

"I thought the first-team defensive line was outstanding today," Eck said. "I kind of challenged Amarii Notice, and I thought he really responded well and made two plays in the series. ... I think that's going to be a strength of our team. We have good depth there, (and there are) a lot of guys who can play."

Redshirt freshman Zach Johnson tied with Notice for a team-high in sacks (2.5). The Coeur d'Alene native gave the second-team offensive line fits. He beat redshirt freshman tackle Zach Penner one-on-one to record his second sack of the game in the second quarter.

The Lake City product is a linebacker on the Vandals' roster. But his ability to rush the passer might force him to switch positions.

"Whatever we do, we have to get him to rush the passer more," Eck said. "Maybe we can't always wait until third-and-long, maybe sometimes second-and-long if they're going to throw it more, we got to get him in. But he's doing a solid job at linebacker, but I think he can really be a difference-maker at D-end."

Eck went to the press box to talk with the voice of the Vandals, Chris King, at the start of the third quarter.

On the first play from scrimmage, his son, Jaxton Eck, notched a 26-yard pick-6 off of redshirt freshman Hogan Carmichael to put the black team in front 28-14.

"I know his mom was really fired up," Jason Eck said. "I like the way he's responded. Early in the spring, we had a scrimmage where coach (Dan) Jackson put him with the 2s. ... I think that was good coaching by Jackson because when we put him with the 2s, he played really well, and we put him back with the 1s, and he has played better in the second part of the spring."

Offense on brand

The Vandals' starting offense appeared to be in midseason form after an 18-play scoring drive that lasted 13 minutes.

Sophomore quarterback Jack Layne located redshirt freshman Mason Mini on a rollout pass for the 8-yard score to tie the game at 14-14 in the second quarter.

Layne was effective in his three quarters of action. He finished 17-of-26 for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

The Lake Oswego, Ore., native went through his reads and didn't take a lot of shots. He threw to seven different pass catchers, with most of his throws going to the tight ends or the running backs.

"He gets through his reads very fast," Eck said. "Which I think allows him to get to more checkdowns and things. ... The backs and tight ends will probably get more touches with him because if it's not quite right, he'll keep going through and find the wide open guy, and he does a great job of operating the offense."

Idaho's leading receiver was sophomore Jordan Dwyer, who had five receptions for 94 yards and a score.

Dwyer climbed the ladder for a 46-yard touchdown reception from redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Wagner for the game's final margin.

"We were waiting for that one," Dwyer said. "We ran it a couple of times earlier. We didn't get to the read, but he let it go, and I saw the ball in the air, and I just had to go get it."

Quick hits

Idaho had very few breakout runs on Friday. The event's leading rusher was redshirt freshman Deshaun Buchanan, who had six rushes for 31 yards (5.1 yards per carry).

The Vandals' No. 1 defense held the white team to 11 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Carmichael connected with redshirt freshman Seth Shook for the white team's lone score. He made the catch between Dwayne McDougle and Johnson and turned on the afterburners for the 31-yard score.

Lewiston High School product Brayden Rice was the white team's second-leading receiver with two receptions for 15 yards.

The starting tight ends and running backs made up half of the Vandals' receptions.



PASSING — Layne 17-26-0—186; Wager 3-5-0—53; Higgins 0-1 —0.

Rushing — Layne 3-26; Buchanan 6-31; Thomas 5-29.

Receiving — Dwyer 5-94; Buchanan 2-11; Higgins 1-12; Cortez-Menjivar 1-4; Hamper 3-48; Cummings 1-23; Moore 5-37; Mini 2-15.


Passing — Wagner 5-11-0—30; Carmichael 4-5-1—56.

Rushing — Williams 6-4; Matheney 5-10; Thomas 1(-3).

Receiving — Williams 1-10; Clark 2-8; Fry 2-14; Stromberg 1-8; Rice 2-15; Shook 1-31.

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, or on Twitter @TreebTalks