|Spring football begins Tuesday|
Continuity. In staff, in schemes, in the intangibles.
That alone is invaluable to the University of Idaho Vandals and head football coach Robb Akey as they head into spring drills.
"Last spring," said Akey, who was hired in December 2006 and who had his staff assembled in January 2007, "you saw a whole bunch of football players checking out a whole bunch of new coaches and vice versa ... seeing what each other is all about.
"The thing I’m excited the most about is, this spring this football team is going to get to run the same offense, defense, special teams that they ran last year. That hasn’t happened for any of these kids. None of these kids have been able to run the same offense, defense, special teams going into spring ball that they played in the fall. I think that’s awesome."
With their knowledge of the game intact, Akey wants to see refinement in what they do and how they can transfer their winter conditioning to the playing field.
"I don’t care how many different plays we put in," Akey said. "I want to see us get better at blocking and tackling and shedding blocks. The fundamentals of football. Take care of the character of the game. Get good at playing physical. We’re going to be paying a lot of attention to individuals making themselves better."
Expect some interesting position battles to unfold. At quarterback, sophomores Nate Enderle and Quin Ashley will be put to task. At receiver, a host of players, all of whom showed flashes last year, will be under scrutiny to see who will emerge as the go-to guy.
There are some givens. Senior center Adam Korby is back along with junior guards Mike Iupati and Adam Juratovac, senior tackles Kris Anderson and Billy Bates, senior tight end/H-back Eddie Williams, and sophomore running back Deonte` Jackson.
Defensively, tussles are bound to take place as the linebacking corps is reconfigured after the graduation of David Vobora, Brandon Ogletree and Jo`Artis Ratti. The good news there is sophomores JoJo Dickson, Justin Allen and Jonathan Faraimo, and senior Andrew Blevins are back with game experience and redshirt freshman Andre` Ferguson shows potential.
In the secondary, cornerback Stanley Franks and safety Chris Smith have graduated. On the plus side the team MVP Shiloh Keo, a junior, is back at strong safety and senior Breyon Williams returns at corner. Up front, seniors Josh Shaw and Taylor Rust return with considerable game experience, while sophomores Fono Sekona and Jonah Sataraka, and senior Marcus Pedro should figure into the mix.
"The guys are out there," Akey said. "I want to somebody to show me they can be a factor.
"I want to see who can prove to me they can play in the WAC."