ISU football: Bengals back on the field to start fall camp
POCATELLO — The past four months have been a chaotic clutter for Idaho State football, but Friday’s fall debut appeared to go off without incident.
From Mike Kramer’s abrupt retirement and subsequent hiring of Rob Phenicie to head coach in late March, to the seemingly endless personnel shuffle that continued with Steve Fifita’s driving under the influence charge last week, the ISU football program has been embroiled in unsteadiness.
The team didn’t show it Friday in practice No. 1 of fall camp at the ICCU Practice Fields.
“They were like that yellow lab on the first day of pheasant season,” Phenicie said. “They were pulling at the chain. They were ready to go. It was fun, exciting. Glad to be back.”
Friday’s practice had its share of missteps and mistakes that come with new coaches, summer rust and new surroundings. But most of the team appeared to start the fall where the spring left off.
Friday’s session lasted around 90 minutes. Players wore helmets but no pads and did their usual position work mixed with minimal seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. Tucker Louie-McGee’s interception of Tanner Gueller highlighted the 11-on-11 session.
“Every year, the kids go out and throw on their own and they have an idea on what to do,” Phenicie said. “But you take a day or two to beat the summer out of them, in terms of all the bad habits that they develop during the summer. Alignments and just little details of assignments.”
First- and second-team drills seldom included freshmen or incoming transfers. Offensive linemen Skyler Phillips, Chase Collins and Chris Miedema missed practice to attend the wedding of former teammate and fellow O-lineman Christian Diehm. They are expected to practice Saturday.
Nikko Taylor, who started at defensive tackle for the Bengals last season, has been added to the staff as a graduate assistant. He and defensive coordinator Spencer Toone worked with the defensive line Friday to fill Fifita’s absence.
Britt Maughan, former head coach at Snow College who is on ISU’s staff as a volunteer assistant, coached the safeties — Toone’s usual position group.
“That was his original assignment anyway,” Phenicie said of Maughan. “Now, he’s just going to take them until we adjust.”
Other coaches making their 2017 ISU debut included offensive coordinator Matt Troxel and cornerbacks coach Kam Yancy. Troxel was ISU’s offensive coordinator last season and has been with the Bengals since 2012, but took a coaching job at the University of Montana in January. He returned to ISU in April after Phenicie took over the program.Yancy was hired this summer to replace Stanley Franks, who announced he took a coaching job with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League on the final day of spring ball.
Idaho State’s fall camp continues Saturday at 1 p.m. on the ICCU Practice Fields.
“It’ll be hot, and they’ll get tired,” Phenicie said. “But we will be in our rhythm a little bit better.”