MOSCOW, Idaho — The Jason Eck era has officially begun in Moscow. The new head coach is looking to get the Vandals back to winning with his new offense and… an ax.
The Ace Man is an honor handed out daily at Vandals practice to the hardest working player.
“I think it brings out people being like ‘I want to work harder today so I can get that recognition,” today’s Axe Man winner defensive lineman Nate DeGraw said. “It’s kind of like a badge of honor. It brings more energy and more attitude to the locker room.”
“Spring ball, actually day one,” linebacker and team captain Fa’Avae Fa’Avae said when asked when the ax became a part of practice. “Coach brought it out and I was like ‘Oh, yeah! Let’s rock with that! I love that.”
The daily recipient earns bragging rights until the next practice.
“I might bring it down to lunch if I can get it from them,” DeGraw said.
The ax is a symbol of good practice, but also symbolic of the new Eck regime.
“I feel like, compared to last year, it’s definitely a lot more excitement. Just the want to be out here and want to come to get better,” quarterback Caleb Jordan said. “It’s definitely a change from last year. I mean, it’s just a good overall feeling.”
“It’s a lot different. There’s a lot more energy around the players. Guys are more excited to come to practice. More energized while at practice,” DeGraw said. “Guys are excited to see how we play together in this new program.”
A big part of the changes comes on the offensive side of the ball. Eck spent the last three years as the offensive coordinator at South Dakota State where the Jackrabbits had the 8th highest scoring offense in the FCS. He brings that same system to Moscow.
“I think they have a pretty good feel for the offense. Our style is we don’t have a lot of new plays every week. We have the same plays that we just dress up. We run a lot of different formations, different personnel groups and different motions. So, I think there’s a lot to keep building on,” Eck said. “I could not ask for more as far as the effort, the focus, how they’re trying to do what we’re asking of them. Even from when I first got here in the winter, we haven’t had any resistance. I think we have a lot of great kids who want to be good and we just got to keep showing them the way.”
The Vandals' first game of the season is an exciting one for us here in the Inland Northwest; for the first time since 2016 the Battle of the Palouse on the football field. The Vandals headed to Pullman for a matchup with Washington State on Sept. 3, 2022.
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