[Vandal] [Bulk] Vandal Optimism Likely To Linger
robiegruss at aol.com
robiegruss at aol.com
Sun Aug 16 07:25:32 PDT 2020
>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSunday, August 16, 2020
Vandal Optimism Likely To Linger
When pandemic does allow Vandals to play, they’ll feel good about their odds for success
By Colton Clark
Now through more than 15 preseason walk-throughs — and a multitude of agility drills, Zoom teleconference meetings and lifting sessions — the University of Idaho’s football team feels prepared, maybe even more so than usual.
It might be hard to be optimistic so soon after the Big Sky Conference put the kibosh on 2020 fall sports, but what’s done is done. Might as well find some positives, right?
“Mentally, I think our guys are super far ahead,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of his team, which will continue to work out as though this autumn were spring camp. “And we’ve had all kinds of agilities. So I think we’re in as good a shape as we can be in.
“They’ve had a great attitude … I’m just very excited about them. I think it’s gonna end up being a chance to be a really good football team.”
Bearing the most importance, of course, is sorting out the situation at quarterback.
With Petrino’s son, Mason, having graduated after two years as starter; and with Lewiston’s Colton Richardson missing the year to regroup physically and mentally, the Vandals will lack experience at the Big Sky’s most touted position.
The presumption this offseason has been a three-man race between UConn graduate transfer Mike Beaudry, Union High (Vancouver, Wash.) rookie CJ Jordan and Mercer Island (Wash.) product Nikhil Nayar,a 6-foot-5, 227-pound redshirt sophomore who’s the only of Idaho’s signal-callers to have playing time in Silver and Gold.
Nayar appeared in garbage time in 2018 at Florida, and in a game-manager role after Richardson went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter of the Vandals’ eventual 45-21 homecoming win on Oct.19th of last year.
Thus far, he’s 4-of-10 for 32 yards, with one rush for 6 yards against the Bengals.
During Petrino’s conference call with reporters on Thursday, the eighth-year coach indicated the additional few months of preseason practice will permit steady installation of the offense into the new QBs’ mental catalogs.
“It’s just gonna give them that many more (reps),” Petrino said. “I think it’s been a great advantage for them. I think those two quarterbacks both have a chance to be really special and do a lot of good things for us.”
Beaudry, who’s predicted by most couch analysts to claim the job, has the QB prototype look, plus some. If he does come out No. 1 on the depth chart, he’ll almost certainly be the physically largest starting QB in the Big Sky.
He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 255 pounds, but Petrino said in the spring that he “doesn’t look it.” The Floridian high school star — who’s originally from Saskatchewan — is lean, with broad shoulders and a hardy chest.
His career has been plagued by injuries, but he boasts a ton of collegiate experience, a cannon for a right arm and, said Petrino, veteran decision-making. Beaudry was a Division II All-American and record-setter for national runner-up West Florida before sitting out all but one game of the 2018 season with injury.
Beaudry only played significant minutes in three 2019 games as a first-year Husky, because of injuries.
He threw for 503 yards on 64 percent (53-of-83) with a touchdown and two picks, and added a short rushing score.
Jordan, a three-star dual-threat QB, measures at 6-3, 190 pounds. In 19 starts on his prep career, he’s completed 125 of 230 passes for 2,013 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight picks, adding 643 yards rushing and seven scores. He prepped at Jefferson High and Clackamas High (both of Oregon) before transferring to Union for his senior year, during which he led the Titans to a 4-3 record, but sustained a season-ending meniscus injury in Week 8.
Many among the Idaho fan base have jumped aboard the Jordan bandwagon — it’s not often the Vandals ink a QB with such a high ceiling, and it’s not often Idaho recruits such versatility at the position. Jordan had 18 other D-I offers, per 247sports.com, including six from the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks.
On Thursday, Petrino also entertained the subject of rookie offensive linemen contending for playing time. Californian hogs Nate Azzopardi and Elijah Sanchez were both “huge gets” in recruiting. Azzopardi, at 6-3 and 275 pounds, and the 6-5, 290-pound Sanchez had their names dropped during Petrino’s Zoom interview.
“Those guys both have a chance to be studs, and the more and more reps they can get, and the more mental work they get that way, that helps them greatly,” he said.
Petrino’s staff is in part known for developing O-linemen through early playing time. In fact, two current starters — tackle/center Logan Floyd and guard Matt Faupusa — have been cemented in the trenches since their true freshman years.
Petrino proceeded to mention a handful of other newcomers he believes have legitimate opportunities to earn in-game action.
“We knew we had a really good recruiting class, it was ranked fifth in the country (by 247sports),” Petrino said, “and after watching them all in agilities, and being around them, you can see it was probably even higher than that. That makes (the season’s postponement) even more disappointing, because they were so positive and so upbeat about what could happen.”
Speedy junior college transfer receiver Jermaine Jackson “is gonna be really special,” said Petrino, who told the Tribune in the spring he could see the junior offensive flex player “turning some heads.”
>From scrimmage, Jackson totaled 975 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, earning all-state nods at receiver and kick returner while playing for one of the nation’s best jucos, the College of San Mateo (Calif.).
The 5-7, 165-pound Oakland native appeared in a highlight on the Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U,” catching an out route and taking it 30 yards for a score against Laney College of Oakland.
Coeur d’Alene safety Colbey Nosworthy, Nevada-born safety Tommy McCormick and Eagle High linebacker Derek Tommasini could help shore up the defense, Petrino noted.
In the spring, he pointed to incoming safety Arnell Walker as a player who might surprise fans in what’s become a thin secondary, which has lost three notable players to transfers since the 2019 season ended.
“Those are all young guys that really have a chance to help us and do great things for us,” Petrino said. “The more reps they get mentally right now, the better off they can be.”
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