[Vandal] Vandals Begin Fall Practice With Sense Of Optimism

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Sat Aug 7 10:59:43 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSaturday, August 7, 2021
Vandals Begin Fall Practice With Sense Of Optimism
By Colton Clark
MOSCOW — The enthusiasm was palpable Friday on Idaho’s East Practice Field. Vandal football coach Paul Petrino termed it “one of the better first days we’ve ever had.”
“They feel really good about themselves and about our team,” he said.
Idaho opened its fall camp with an upbeat session spanning about 2½ hours. The helmets-only practice marked the return to a more traditional preseason schedule after a spring campaign that was decisively not business as usual.
Players often had been split up for practices and meetings then, and Idaho’s roster was affected by coronavirus issues in five of its six games. The Vandals nonetheless were competitive, so they’re optimistic that 2021 ends up as a breakthrough year.
There was a certain buzz circulating among Idaho’s players, an audible eagerness to finally be preparing for a full-length season with a full roster.
“It just brought back that energy we’d been missing due to COVID,” safety Tyrese Dedmon said. “Really just grooving around each other, getting used to being back in that normal routine and being able to have that brotherhood and family again.”
Because there have only been three months between the end of Idaho’s last season and the beginning of fall camp, Petrino honed in on the fundamentals and pulled back on physical exertion.
The ninth-year coach said the Vandals have “got to be smart about” taking care of their bodies on such a short turnaround.
“The message (Friday) was: We’re really going to take every period to get better at our fundamentals so we can win games at the end with our fundamentals,” said Petrino, who noted that the Vandals looked exceptionally crisp because the past season still is fresh in their heads.
“A lot of them have played here a long time, so they really understand the details. Then some of the new guys who were just out here for the first time were pretty exciting too.”
In terms of standout newcomers, Petrino highlighted Football Bowl Subdivision transfer receivers Mekhi Stevenson (UNLV) and Terez Traynor (Western Kentucky), and juco transfer Michael Graves (American River). Each of them stands above 6-foot and exhibits a solid range.
“They’re gonna be great for our offense,” Dedmon said of the new pass-catchers. “They bring a passion, a fire and the competitive nature everybody needs on both sides of the ball.”
Idaho’s receivers made a number of impressive moves while catching passes from three quarterbacks.
But it appears the competition under center will primarily be between graduate Mike Beaudry and freshman CJ Jordan. They split all of the reps in 7-on-7 drills toward the end of practice.
Their brightest moments came on well-placed deep balls down the sideline to star receiver Hayden Hatten.
Petrino plans to name a starter by Idaho’s Big Sky opener Oct. 2 at UC Davis.
Zach Borisch rotated in during other periods, yet Petrino said the converted running back will have his own package for games, rather than lining up as the starter.
Borisch is an option-style quarterback. It’s a physically demanding role, but the sophomore debuted it with poise when unexpectedly thrust into action April 10 at Eastern Washington.
“I don’t think he could play (several games in a row) like that. He’d get beat up too bad, so he’ll have a package and we’ll probably run that every game,” Petrino said. “Then the other two are battling for the starting spot.”
Regardless of their No. 1 signal-caller, the Vandals feel as if a breakthrough season is around the corner. Their first day back in a standard routine was a good start.
“As soon as we all walked out here, you could just tell there was a different kind of energy,” said center/tackle Logan Floyd, later adding: “The COVID year was a little tough on people. It’s a normal season, so everyone’s excited about that.
“I think people bought into the process of: We want to win the Big Sky, we want to go to the playoffs and try to win the (championship) there. People are realizing what we gotta do and they’re having fun while doing it.”
New offensive coordinator?
Idaho hasn’t filled its offensive coordinator post since Kris Cinkovich retired in April, and Petrino doesn’t plan on announcing any changes for some time.
“That’s something where we’re going to kinda wait and say it right before the first game, just to let everybody wonder what’s going on,” Petrino said, grinning.
Carter’s back
Aundre Carter, Idaho’s leading rusher in 2019, returned to the team after a season away for unspecified reasons. The 250-pound bowling ball wasn’t suited up, but did some conditioning work on the sideline.
“We’ve been roommates since Day 1, so it’s great to have him back,” Floyd said. “Knowing he’s carrying the ball is a good feeling. He’ll just plow over anybody.”
Petrino said it’ll be a “process” with Carter. He might not be ready until the UC Davis game.
“We’re getting him back in shape,” Petrino said.
“We’re pushing a lot of things till then (Oct. 2).”
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