MOSCOW, Idaho — On Idaho football coach Jason Eck’s first day of spring training, the devoted football fan may have noticed the meticulous attention to playing with leverage and taking the good angles that the new Vandals staff pointed out to the players.
“We have a lot of great teachers on staff,” Eck said. “But that’s not what we know as coaches. The players have to do it. »
However, even a casual fan who saw the Vandals at work last season and again on Monday would have noticed some notable changes. Courtesy soundtrack alternating between urban contemporary and country, Idaho practiced with booming music across the pitch.
“It’s good to have some energy with the music in practice,” Eck said. “We have to play in Montana this year. We better be able to operate in loud noise.
Nor was he missing the fierce-looking tool he wielded at the end of the training, a silver battle-axe like those the namesakes of the fifth-century Vandals used to perverse effect. Eck plans to award it to a player after every practice. Second-year defensive end Malakai Williams was the first recipient. “He was in the backfield a lot,” Eck said.
The players wore shorts, shirts and helmets and didn’t tackle, but in the 11-on-11 periods an energetically shifting defense had the advantage early on as the Vandals played at a brisk pace. Sophomore cornerback Arnell Walker and junior linebacker Hogan Hatten each made interceptions.
“The defense was very good in the first segment. They were really locked in,” Eck said. “Communication was good. They made the calls. The offense takes a bit longer to click.
By the end of the two-hour session, however, wide receivers Jermaine Jackson and Michael Noil had gotten catches while tightly covered, and sophomore tight end Jake Cox and sophomore wide receiver Jalen Grable had each caught touchdowns from second-year quarterback CJ Jordan.
“CJ had some good plays on third downs,” Eck said.
“I was excited to get back with the guys,” said Jordan, who had an impressive debut against Southern Utah last spring. He passed 16 of 27 for 183 yards in three quarters and rushed for 38 yards before being lost for the remainder of the season to injury.
Idaho has half a dozen quarterbacks on the spring roster, and Eck said he wants to hand out practice reps to each of them in early practices. But he plans to decide the depth at the position by the spring game. Anyway, on day one Jordan took the initial reps and apparently the majority of them.
“I felt a lot more comfortable at the end of practice,” he said. “I felt good there.
“I’m one of the youngest, but I have to take on a leadership role, motivate myself and know my role as the leader of the attack and the team.”
He added that he appreciates the candor of Idaho’s new coaching staff.
“Overall it’s more organized,” he said of the practice approach. “Coaches let us know directly what we need to do on the pitch to be better and how to prepare off the pitch. The little details are super important to us. They are very important in every game, in every try. »
Eck said he was pleased with Idaho’s first spring training under his guidance.
“The energy was good today. With energy and effort, you give yourself a chance. We have a few details to clean up. But we have a tape to teach from.