| March 17, 2018

Football: Defending the Pass

April 11, 2016

Idaho’s passing game was dominant during Saturday’s scrimmage at the Kibbie Dome.

Sophomore quarterbacks Jake Luton and Gunnar Amos combined for nine touchdowns through the air. The duo averaged 19.3 yards per completed pass, totaling 50 attempted passes and 608 passing yards during team activities.

The numbers are both a positive and a negative for the Vandals. While the quarterbacks found open receivers time and time again, the Idaho secondary was kept on its heels for most of the practice.

Senior cornerback Jayshawn Jordan was at the forefront of the secondary. Jordan made it difficult for the offense to succeed in short passing situations.

The senior also made several key tackles on bubble screens, reducing the yardage gained by the offense.

Jordan also helped out on blitzes and recorded a tackle for a loss in the backfield.

Jordan’s highlight play of the scrimmage came just inside of the left tackle. Jordan jumped in front of the pass and took the interception 39 yards for a touchdown. He ended the day with 6 tackles.

Senior Khalin Smith also recorded an interception against Luton, but a whistle from a referee ended the play before Smith had a chance to return the pick.

Senior defensive back Kahshan Greene and freshman Thomas Sedrick each knocked down passes during the scrimmage. Greene batted down a short pass to the outside, while Thomas swatted down a ball intended for senior Callen Hightower.

Sophomore Calvalry Pugh forced a fumble near the middle of the field that the offense quickly recovered.

Despite some strong individual efforts from the defensive backs, the secondary had difficulty when it came to deep coverage. Luton and Amos often found open receivers down the middle of the field on deep post routes.

Many of the defensive miscues appeared to occur during a zone coverage. Cornerbacks and safeties often gave the receivers too much space, allowing them to find soft spots in coverage. This led to several passes and big yardage gains for the offense.

Many deep passes, especially late in the scrimmage, resulted in touchdowns. The number of passing touchdowns increased once the secondary began to show signs of fatigue. Jordan and senior safety D.J. Hampton were the most targeted defensive backs on deep passing routes.

Early in the scrimmage, Jordan and Hampton let junior wide receiver Reuben Mwehla split between them for a touchdown.

In the second half, Hampton and Jordan were beat on two separate occasions for long touchdowns. The second was a deep pass that tight end Deon Watson hauled in for a 67-yard touchdown. Watson recorded nine catches, 216 yards and four touchdowns on the day.

Safety Jordan Grabski saw some action for the Vandal defense and ended the scrimmage with four tackles. Late in the scrimmage, running back Aaron Ducksworth beat him to the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown rush.

Idaho head coach Paul Petrino acknowledged the injuries sustained by secondary, but said many players are stepping up to the challenge. Petrino specifically praised the efforts of Jordan and junior cornerback Desmond Banks during spring practices.

Brandon Hill can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill  

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