With spring ball concluded and a long summer ahead of the Vandals (due to many factors) it’s time to take a glance at what looks to be Idaho’s post-spring depth chart. This is based on my observations of the program over the spring and solidified with the notes I took during the spring game on April 25.
We’ll start with the position everybody is wondering about…
1a. Matt Linehan
1b. Chad Chalich
– There are a plethora of ways this competition can be analyzed or thought about because Idaho coach Paul Petrino isn’t letting anything through his lips as to who he prefers. The numbers can say a little bit. During the spring game and also the final scrimmage Linehan attempted over 40 passes, while Chalich passed less than 30 times. During the second scrimmage it was Linehan with 52 attempts, Chalich with 32. Petrino is downplaying how much Chalich’s shoulder injury had to do with those numbers, but if it’s not that then it’s hard to say what it is. Chalich didn’t look bothered very much during the spring game when he tossed for 306 yards on only 27 attempts. Though, he was pulled once mid-drive because Petrino preferred Linehan’s height on a bootleg play. You have to like Linehan’s chances in the fall because of his measurables, but Petrino made the best point when he said that in this day and age you need at least two capable quarterbacks. Read into that what you will.
1a. Kris Olugbode
1b. Jerrel Brown
X. Richard Montgomery
2. Isaiah Saunders
– There has been little to no separation here. Olugbode and Brown have both had their moments in the spring with one not having separated from the other as Petrino said he would have liked. Right now I’d give Olugbode to ever-so-slight advantage just based on the eye test. Richard Montgomery flashed from the running back spot during the spring game with two flashy touchdowns on draw plays. He’ll also wing out to be a wide receiver at times. The picture may become clearer when Elijhaa Penny arrives in the fall.
1. Justin Podrabsky
2. Jared Klingenberg
3. Kevin Shelton
4. Eric Lemke
– This is a position that doesn’t look like it’ll get much play in the passing game in 2014, but the spring has given some love to Lewiston’s own Justin Podrabsky. He’s been involved most of the time tight ends have been in passing game and looks like he’s in line to grab a starting spot. Keep an eye on Kevin Shelton, though. The sophomore is listed at fullback and has also been used as a tight end late during the spring and received some time there during the spring game.
X – Josh McCain
Z – Dezmon Epps
Y – Deon Watson
Slot back – Richard Montgomery
4. Jacob Sannon, 5. Buck Cowan, 6. Jordan Pastras, Peter Kimble and Chris Featherstone
– The receiver picture is Petrino’s specialty and one he seems determined to make one of the deepest positions on the roster. That’ll be the case when Kenny Torrence and Jermaine Johnson arrive on campus in the fall as junior college transfers.
Dezmon Epps has shown no signs of slowing from his team-lead in receiving yards last season. Although, there was a DUI arrest Petrino will have to deal with. Petrino hasn’t specified a suspension on that situation yet.
Josh McCain, converted from quarterback this spring, has looked like a natural at the position and didn’t slow down during the spring game. At this rate he is easily a starting outside receiver.
Deon Watson has stepped his game up in year three in the program as a physical possession receiver with the ability to get down the field. He’s clearly been in the top-three this spring even though he may be the one dealing with the most competition from the junior college additions in the fall.
The name to watch during the fall will be Reuben Mwehla. The redshirt freshman from Bellevue, Wash. spent the spring dealing with an ankle injury and barely touched the field. Petrino has raved about him and he’ll only add more speed and depth to the group.
Keep an eye on Chris Featherstone in the fall. He’s impressed the most out of the walk-on receivers.
QT Nick Van Rotz
QG Steven Matlock
C Mike Marboe
SG Kato Fawkes
ST Mason Woods
Back-up line: QT Jeff Travillion, QG Cody Elenz, C Sione Maile, SG Dallas Sandberg, ST Calvin White
– As Petrino pointed out after the spring game, the second team O-Line features four players who started games in 2013. Marboe is the only player who can be solidified as a starter, though Matlock is close. Sandberg and Elenz comprised the starting “quick” side of the line last season, so I’d expect them to still get a good look. Jesse Davis is coming off of injury to compete at strong tackle in the fall. Highly touted junior college transfer Jerett Olson will join the competition as well.
DE: Quinton Bradley, Anthony Rice, Marius Burgsmueller
DT: Quayshawne Buckley, Tueni Lupeamanu
DT: Ryan Edwards, Max Martial, Matthew Neal
DE: Maxx Forde, Zach Cable
– There are still two very big (literally) additions coming in the fall when Glen Antoine recovers from his shoulder surgery and highly touted junior college signee Alfonso Hampton joins the program. That adds a lot of size inside at the defensive tackle spot, which is already deep with Buckley, Lupeamanu and Edwards. Cable has played inside at times, switching between inside and outside. This could be one of the deepest and talent position groups Idaho has had in a long time, and if used properly, will have fresh talent out on the field at all times during games. First things first, Hampton needs to academically qualify first.
SAM: Marc Millan, James Randall
MIKE: Juan Martinez, Broc Westlake
WILL: Irving Steele, Eric Tuipulotu
– There is a lot more competition to happen here and is another position where there could be some plug-and-play at different positions so that coaches can get more film on who fits better where. Steele has excelled player both inside and outside linebacker. During the spring game he seemed to be paired with Martinez (whose job he initially took) and Millan. Tuipulotu and Westlake also got significant snaps with the first team, compelling me to think that not a lot has been settled yet. That’s a good thing for this group, it’s got depth and could see in-game rotation to keep the entire front seven fresh.
LCB and RCB : Jayshawn Jordan, Delency Parham
Nickel: Bradley Njoku
Safety: Jordan Grabski, Russell Siavii
Safety depth: Doyin Sule, Tom Hennessey
Cornerback: 3. Desmond Banks, 4. Armond Hawkins, 5. Nolan Hoiness
– Russell Siavii has been a bit of a surprise late in the spring, coming on strong to relegate JC transfer Doyin Sule to the second team. He’s in competition for a regular starting spot, even when the secondary isn’t in nickel. The 4-2-5 has been used quite a bit, with Njoku taking that “Nickel” position. There will be heavy, heavy mix-ups in the secondary come August. Dorian Clark (Fr.), Chris Edwards (Jr.) and Dennis Rufus (Jr.) are likely to be given opportunities to play right away. Give credit to Jordan for his spring, he’s come on strong and has easily out-played the other corners on the team.
There wasn’t a ton of this going on in the spring, so I don’t have a great idea of where coaches are leaning here in terms of kick and punt returns. I will say this was where I saw the most of Mwehla, when he spent time fielding punts (without really taking them back, the drills were mostly for the gunners).
Austin Rehkow didn’t get reps kicking field goals or booming punts all spring, either. He spent the spring recovering from a back injury. He attempted 10 PATs during the spring game, hitting them all.
Rehkow maintains both kicking and punting duties for now, though Petrino hasn’t ruled out bringing in a kicker in the fall.
Marius Burgsmueller and Brett Ballard should be the long snappers.