[Vandal] Defense Rules The Day

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Sun May 1 13:29:47 PDT 2022

>From The Lewiston Tribune
Lewiston, Idaho
Sunday, May 1, 2022

Defense Rules The Day

A surprise start at QB, big kick and Eck awards 4 scholarships at Idaho spring game

By Stephan Wiebe

EAGLE, Idaho — Several surprises abounded in Idaho’s annual spring game Saturday on a rainy day at Eagle High School.

There was the nod at starting quarterback to sophomore Gevani McCoy — a fourth-stringer to start last season. There was the defensive domination in a 61-26 victory against the offense in a scrimmage that featured just one touchdown and a unique scoring system. There was a rare 50-yard field goal by Ricardo Chavez.

But none of the surprises beat the big one dropped on the team after the game.

During the team’s Battle Axe Competitor of the Day ceremony, Idaho coach Jason Eck called up four walk-ons to share the award: tight end Alex Moore, offensive guard Beau St. John, defensive lineman Sam Brown and safety Mathias Bertram.

Eck ended his brief speech with the words “They’re not walk-ons anymore,” and the Vandal players went crazy as they swarmed their new scholarship teammates.

“That was my favorite moment since I’ve been here as the head coach,” Eck said. “We had four walk-ons who we just awarded scholarships to. Those guys really are starters right now.”

Several hundred Boisean Idaho fans braved the dreary weather to tailgate and mingle before the game, then glimpse a preview of the Eck-era Vandals.

What they saw was a solid showing by the Idaho defense, which allowed just one touchdown and one field goal in racking up an interception by Isaiah King, a safety sack credited to Leo Tamba and a smattering of other sacks, tackles for loss and three-and-outs.

The unique scoring system gave six points for a turnover, five for a safety, three for a three-and-out and one for a stopped drive. On offense, a touchdown was six, a field goal three as well as one point for every first down and 20-yard gain.

The result was the defense more than doubling up the offense.

“I thought it was a good day. It was a cumulation of 15 good practices,” Eck said. “A good win for the defense today.

“We did a good job of not giving up big plays. I think we only had two 20-yard plays all day, so we did a good job of keeping the ball in front of us.”

The offense had its moments too, leading 8-5 after the first quarter thanks mainly to Chavez’s monster field goal. A McCoy-led drive in the fourth quarter featured the longest play and a touchdown in the same drive.

McCoy hoisted up a ball for receiver Terez Traynor, who went up and snagged it in double coverage for a 37-yard gain — the longest play of the game. Then McCoy hit Jermaine Jackson for 18 yards on second-and-17 to get into the red zone. Three consecutive Roshaun Johnson runs later, the offense scored on an 8-yard rush up the middle.

“We were just trying to get some points on the board, trying to move the ball down the field,” McCoy said. “I was just trying to stay ahead of the chains, not get behind them … and just keep the ball moving.”

Eck said McCoy and fellow sophomore CJ Jordan are in a two-man battle for the starting job, with sophomore Macloud Crowton and freshman Tyler Webb fighting for the third-string spot.

Jordan started with the first-team offense for most of camp, but McCoy edged slightly ahead, enough to earn the start in the spring game.

“It’s been back and forth between those guys,” Eck said. “We gave Gevani the first group today with the ones. He’s probably a tad ahead, but it’s very close between those guys. That battle will keep going.”

McCoy had more success sustaining drives but also threw the game’s only interception. Jordan found Moore for a 30-yard gain in the first quarter for his longest play of the day.

McCoy finished 8-of-19 passing for 134 yards, and Jordan went 5-of-13 for 47.

Traynor (four catches, 64 yards) and Johnson (eight rushes, 41 yards, 1 TD) were tops at their respective positions.

Eck highlighted the defensive line — a group he wants to keep fresh by cycling through up to 10 players — as a bright spot from the scrimmage and throughout the spring. Standouts there included Tamba, Smith, Devante Keys, Nate DeGraw, Kemari Bailey and Aamarii Notice.

The defense as a whole had nine sacks on the day.

“We have good depth there,” Eck said.

After the game, the Idaho players and coaches conversed with fans before holding a youth clinic with children 12 years old and younger on the field.

Traynor was seen giving his football gloves to a young fan.

Two New Captains

At halftime, Eck announced linebacker Fa’avae Fa’avae and offensive lineman Logan Floyd were voted to be team captains by the players.

Vandal Greats In Attendance

A trio of Vandal legends were present.

Longtime NFL players John Yarno (Seahawks), Mike Iupati (49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks) and Shiloh Keo (Texans, Bengals, Broncos, Saints) came out to watch their alma mater.

Iupati, a four-time Pro Bowl honoree at guard, played at Idaho from 2006-09. Keo, a safety, played with the Vandals from 2006-10. Yarno was at Idaho from 1973-76. 

What’s Next
The players will continue lifting and training on their own until they reconvene June 2. Fall camp begins in August and Idaho opens the season Sept. 3 at Washington State.

“As soon as we get back out here June 2, it’s all gas, no breaks,” McCoy said. “Back to it.”
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