[Vandal] Vandals Plan To Have Deeper Roster

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Thu Mar 25 07:44:25 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoThursday, March 25, 2021
Vandals Plan To Have Deeper Roster
Idaho was down 9 key players March 6th, and will be without ‘3 to 4’ on Saturday
By Colton Clark
The University of Idaho football team expects to be short-handed this weekend, but not as severely as it was the last time out.
Vandals coach Paul Petrino said Tuesday that Idaho likely will be without “three to four” starters when it hosts Southern Utah at noon Saturday in the Kibbie Dome — those absences attributable to the school’s COVID-19 protocol.
Idaho, with its depth chart depleted, was outmatched down the stretch in a 27-17 loss at home to Big Sky foe UC Davis on March 6.
The Vandals were missing nine key players. They started four freshmen on their offensive line.
“We came up a little bit short, but there were some freshmen that played a whole bunch of football that maybe wouldn’t have in any other circumstance,” Petrino said. “Those guys got all kinds of experience and played pretty darn well. ... Guys gotta step up. We knew it was going to be a year like that.”
Two days later, Idaho revealed that its football program had been bitten by the coronavirus after mostly avoiding the pandemic in the fall. The Vandals’ season was shelved for two weeks, and their game originally scheduled for March 13 at Northern Arizona was eventually shifted to April 17.
“In the UC Davis game, we were missing quite a few players, but with the protocol, we had enough people to play, so we played,” Petrino said. “They set rules, so you go by them."
“It causes you heartburn. But it’s a different world. It’s a different year. No one can explain a pandemic. You live by the rules, and obviously you still worry about it when you’ve gotta line up and play with all freshmen in your offensive line. But that’s just what you do: You go out there and play.”
Idaho (1-1) plans to welcome back two O-linemen against the improved Thunderbirds (1-2), Petrino said, but “we’ll be missing a few good players” elsewhere.
Notable Vandals who were surprisingly absent March 6th after starting in Week 1 included: the team’s two best O-linemen in juniors Logan Floyd, a tackle, and guard Matt Faupusa; Conner Whitney, a third-year starter at tight end; Jalen Hoover, a cornerback and fourth-year secondary starter; senior tackle and defensive captain Rahsaan Crawford; sophomore safety Jaxon Woodward and senior punter Cade Coffey, a former All-American.
Petrino indicated Big Sky/Football Championship Subdivision teams must have 53 players — scholarship or non-scholarship — available to play games during this condensed spring season. In the fall’s Football Bowl Subdivision season, multiple conferences required 53 scholarship players to be present for contests.
A certain amount of depth is mandatory among position groups too. For instance, Petrino said, the Vandals can’t play without a quarterback on their roster, or at least seven O-linemen, four defensive linemen, etc.
“This whole year’s kinda shown that everything can be gone in a blink of an eye, and I think this spring season has really opened our eyes to that,” Whitney said Tuesday during a news conference — meaning he’ll certainly return Saturday. “We definitely have some extra motivation we’re playing with. Every chance we get to go out there, we’re more excited, we’re a little more motivated.”
When asked whether Idaho’s quarterback position will be affected for the game, the eighth-year coach kept mum.
Graduate transfer Mike Beaudry has shown flashes of dexterity and spurts of inconsistency. His backup is true freshman CJ Jordan — a product of Portland, Ore., who Petrino said has exhibited an upside in practices with his speed, pocket elusiveness and strong arm.
“Every quarterback brings a different thing to the table. We’ve devised a scheme for whoever we’ve got back there,” Whitney said.
The Vandals have been permitted some individual drills with cleared players during the past two weeks. Petrino said Idaho’s typical game-week preparation for Southern Utah hasn’t been interrupted.
“It’s great to play another game,” he said. “That’s the way our guys gotta look at it: Every chance you get to play a game this year is a great opportunity. We can’t take it for granted.”
Added senior safety Tyrese Dedmon: “I feel like we’re fully engaged. There might be a little bit of kinks, but I feel like it’s nothing too major. I don’t feel like we lost a step. We look really good at practice.”
Petrino, Whitney and Dedmon agreed this season’s uncertainties have forced Idaho’s newcomers to adapt quickly to the pace of Division I football. The additional live-action experience should come in handy down the road.
“Everybody knows that at any given moment, it could be your moment to play,” said Dedmon, who was joined in the secondary by true freshman safety Tommy McCormick versus UC Davis. “Some people come in with the redshirt mentality, but now they have to play. ... Like, ‘I could possibly play next week, so I need to take things seriously.’ As an older guy, we’re all holding each other accountable, helping out the young guys, so if they do have to play, they’ll be ready.”
IMPRESSIVE ROOKIE — When asked which newbie has taken considerable strides this season, Petrino first thought of Greyson Harwood, a Rupert, Idaho, native who has been the first-string center since early in Idaho’s Week 1 win against Eastern Washington. Harwood took over for juco transfer Chad Bagwell, who sustained a lower-body injury in the first quarter of that game. Fellow true freshman Nate Azzopardi, from California powerhouse Junipero Serra, has been locked in at quick guard since the preseason.
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