Idaho working to replace offensive standouts, defense remains solid ahead of spring game

Apr. 25—MOSCOW, Idaho — Spring football is always an imperfect evaluator.

It never accounts for transfer portal additions or subtractions in May or for freshmen and transfer players joining the team in August.

Yet as it approaches its spring game Friday at 6 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome, the University of Idaho has managed to learn some things this spring without any big setbacks.

First of all, the Vandals, who reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last season, had 91 players out for spring ball in a show of enthusiasm for the direction of coach Jason Eck's program.

Second, the number of players has allowed for frequent live scrimmages, which has highlighted the depth on offense and defense.

Finally, while Eck was disgruntled about the number of soft tissue injuries that kept team members on the sidelines rehabbing with trainers, heading into the final week of workouts the Vandals have not suffered any season-ending injuries.

The Vandals do have to replace a number of talented players .

The most notable is All-America receiver Hayden Hatten, along with wide receiver and kick returner Jermaine Jackson; quarterback Gevani McCoy, who transferred to Oregon State; running back Anthony Woods, now at Utah; kicker and punter Ricardo Chavez; and cornerback Marcus Harris.

Idaho will have no senior starters on offense in the fall, Eck points out. The only group on either side of the ball anchored by seniors is at safety, where Tommy McCormick and Kyrin Beachem return. But 10 of 14 members of the two-deep defense from last season are back, which was reflected in the frequency with which the defense dominated this spring.

Idaho quarterbacks Jack Layne, Jack Wagner and Hogan Carmichael all had their moments to shine this spring.

Redshirt sophomore Jordan Dwyer has stepped up as a likely successor to Hatten, backed by redshirt freshman Mark Hamper.

And Cameron Pope staked a claim this spring to follow Chavez as Idaho's kicker with his reliable accuracy in scrimmages and with a 49-yard field goal that cleared the crossbar with room to spare.

For several years, the Vandals have gone with an offense versus defense format in the spring game.

But this year, because of the number of players taking part and depending on the results from the final week of workouts, Eck was hopeful he and the assistant coaches could agree to split the team into two separate squads and have an actual game.