Idaho's backup QB has a chance to take over the starting spot

Michael Harrington wants to be his own man, but he doesn't mind comparing himself to his famous older brother sometimes.

Joey Harrington entered his redshirt sophomore season at Oregon as the backup at quarterback. He replaced his good friend A.J. Feeley at midseason and never looked back.

Michael Harrington enters his redshirt sophomore season at Idaho as the backup at quarterback. Will he beat out two-year starter Brian Lindgren, his good friend?

'When your time comes, that's when you don't want to let it go,' Michael Harrington says.

Idaho coach Tom Cable says Harrington and Lindgren entered training camp last week on equal terms. That says something about Harrington's progress, because Lindgren threw for 2,763 yards and 19 TDs and completed 63 percent of his passes last year.

'We want to make sure through this whole thing that they get the same number of reps, the same opportunities,' Cable says. 'I've said all along it will come down to who can lead this team.'

The 6-4, 194-pound Harrington gained on Lindgren in practice last year, then threw for 219 yards on 20 of 35 passing in the season finale against New Mexico State, as Lindgren sat out with a broken right collarbone. Harrington threw two TD passes and two interceptions, the second coming with 1:45 left in Idaho's 35-31 loss. The game before, he threw four picks in eight minutes against Arkansas State.

Harrington, a 2001 Central Catholic graduate, followed the season with an impressive spring.

'Brian's the starter, and it'll take more than a couple plays for me to win the job,' he says. 'I have to outplay him on a day-to-day basis to take his job.'

Harrington and Lindgren live in the same apartment complex in Moscow, Idaho, and they play golf and hang out together. 'Brian is definitely my mentor. I would say he's one of my best friends,' Harrington says. 'But when we get on the football field, it's different. There's one job, and we both want it.'

Harrington describes Lindgren, a senior from Walla Walla, Wash., as 'a levelheaded, cool guy' who makes smart plays. Harrington has the stronger arm.

'I'm more of a risk-taker willing to throw the ball downfield,' he says. 'He'll create an 80-yard drive with 20 plays. I may take two plays.'

The Harrington brothers talk often, sharing notes on the West Coast offense, which both Idaho and the Detroit Lions run.

'I've got to show I can run the offense, which means maybe throwing a 2-yard check to a running back and passing up something risky downfield,' Michael Harrington says.

Idaho played a brutal schedule last year and finished 2-10 overall, 1-5 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Vandals open this season Aug. 30 against Washington State at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. They also play Washington again. 'I've got to be honest,' Harrington says. 'I think we're going to be good.'

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