[Vandal] Bringing The Axe Down

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Sun Apr 3 07:43:57 PDT 2022


>From The Lewiston Tribune
Lewiston, Idaho
Friday, April 1, 2022

Bringing The Axe Down

Day 2 of Idaho practice sees improvement as coaches, players settle in

By Stephan Wiebe

MOSCOW  At the end of Idaho spring football practices, coach Jason Eck appears with a hefty
replica battle axe he awards to the  Battle Axe Competitor of the Day.

It’s the reemergence of an old tradition and a way to bring some extra energy to the group. The
award Tuesday went to sophomore defensive end Malakai Williams and Thursday’s honor went
to senior receiver Jermaine Jackson.

JJ, who’s really done a great job, No. 1, who’s come back from some injuries  I thought he
really competed well today,  Eck said after his second practice as Idaho’s new boss.  Had a big
screen for a third down, had a play-action for a big play. He definitely earned it today.

A collection of cheers erupted from the huddled Vandals when Jackson hoisted the axe at the
Kibbie Dome’s East Field.

This thing is heavy. I’m just honored,  Jackson said.  I appreciate coach for blessing me with
this one and we just gonna keep moving.

Upbeat music blared from speakers on the sideline as coaches shouted instructions and players
bounced between drills. Players wore helmets but no pads during a crisp and breezy spring
afternoon on the Idaho campus.

Eck made sure to hit every position group as the Vandals rotated between position drills,
individual drills, 7-on-7 plays, special teams and 11-on-11 plays.

It was good. I thought we took a step forward from the day before,  Eck said.  We’re putting
more stuff in today. I thought the guys responded well back and forth.

The defense had a couple blitzes that got us early and the offense hit a few screens in the last
period on third-and-1 to convert some first downs.

Some of Eck’s standouts from the day included defensive linemen Kemari Bailey (who had a
fumble recovery for a touchdown), Nate DeGraw and Ben Bertram; defensive backs Marcus
Harris and Wyryor Noil and receiver-turned-tight end Alex Moore.

The play of the day might’ve gone to cornerback Awan Parker. The senior bobbled an
interception off of Zach Borisch along the sideline before grabbing the elusive ball as he was on
his back on the ground right in front of all his defensive teammates, who understandably went
wild.

At quarterback, the team again rotated evenly through all six players on the roster, although
sophomore CJ Jordan started first for most of the drills, followed by Borisch and the others. The
other quarterbacks competing for spots on the depth chart include sophomores Gevani McCoy,
Macloud Crowton and Nate Cisco and freshman Tyler Webb.

Eck said a big priority for him and his 10 assistants this spring will be constant evaluation. The
staff has 96 players they need to get familiar with  a task that will be accomplished across the
team’s 15 spring practices and the April 30 spring game in the Boise area.

(We’re) evaluating our own depth chart and seeing where guys should be. Are there any guys
that need to be moved around to use them best?  Eck said.  And evaluating what our own
strengths and weaknesses are. What do we do well? What do we need to work on so that we can
set ourselves up to win games in the fall?

Time will tell.

Of Note

Several notable Vandals were present but not dressed for practice, including receiver Terez
Traynor, cornerback Josh Jones and defensive lineman Coleman Johnson.  The first full-padded
practice is expected to be Saturday.

Quote Of Note

"It’s the energy. It’s carried over. You can feel it when we’re out there. Everybody is flying
around. Everybody is competing, everybody is hooping and hollering. It’s a lot of fun to be out
here."    senior tight end Connor Whitney
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