Idaho football: Akey likes what he sees so far - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Idaho football: Akey likes what he sees so far

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MOSCOW, Idaho - The Idaho Vandals opened up spring football on the Palouse Thursday afternoon, taking the first step toward putting last year's dismal season behind them.

The Vandals are coming off a two-win season as Robb Akey enters his third year as head coach.  Despite last year's disappointing outcome, he's confident things are starting to look up in Moscow.

"It was good for a first practice," Akey said in a news release.  "I like the spirit that they had out there.  I liked the way they flew around out there.  They worked their tails off."

It'll take a lot of work to turn things around for the Vandals.  Their two wins a season ago came against Idaho State (42-27) and New Mexico State (20-14), both of which were at home.  They began the year with a 0-70 loss at Arizona, and also included a 14-46 drubbing by LA Tech, a 10-45 loss to Boise State and a 17-49 performance against Hawaii in the last game of the season.

The Vandals will undoubtedly need better performance all-around, but might do well to focus on the quarterback position.  Nate Enderle, Justin Morales and Brian Reader are all expected to compete for the starting job.  Enderle has two years experience under his belt, although he missed five games due to an ankle injury.  Morales got a year of experience as a redshirt.  And Reader is a JC transfer who spent a redshirt freshman year at Arkansas.

As for receivers, Akey pointed to the first-day performance of Dewey Hale and one-time defensive back Maurice Shaw, both of whom hauled in impressive grabs from all three quarterbacks.

Building an offensive line may be the Vandals' toughest challenge, given the graduation of center Adam Korby, who started every game of his four year career in Moscow.  They'll also need to find replacements for tackles Billy Gates and Kris Anderson.  Coach Dan Finn will begin with Mike Iupati, who comes back after having shoulder surgery, and who will play a solid role at left guard.  Seniors Irv Stevens and Bryce Sinclair are also expected to play key roles on the offensive front.

Spring practice continues through April 24.  Akey said that will be plenty of time to give him an idea about what needs to be done in fall before the new season begins.

News of Note:

Rob Christoff joined the U of I coaching staff as the linebacker coach, the team announced this week.  Christoff began coaching the defense at Linfield in 1996 and has since moved on to Colorado, Cal State Northridge and Saint Mary's College.  His next move was to Montana State for seven seasons (linebackers coach, defensive coordinator), followed by Idaho State (linebackers coach) and finally Boise State.
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