Josh McCain practiced on Sunday despite getting banged up on Saturday, Petrino said during his weekly press conference
To keep re-enforcing the theme of the weekend, if Idaho was to roll in to Pullman on Saturday with an 0-3 record the Vandals are going to do so feeling relatively good about what they did last week.
Paul Petrino still laments the mistakes that prevented his team from winning a game it was capable winning, but still acknowledges strides have been made from the first two games.
“The bottom line in the game comes down to the three fumbles, we don’t fumble the ball we win the game,” Petrino said. “After that there was a few plays here or there on offense and defense where guys just had to step up and make a play.”
Northern Illinois scored 10 points off Idaho fumbles, once to tie to the game at seven and then a field goal in the fourth quarter which ultimately gave the Huskies the lead. Idaho fell just short of giving Petrino a signature first win against last year’s Orange Bowl runner-ups. What Idaho did do, though, was lead by as many as 14 and take the 28-and-a-half point favorite Huskies down the wire in the 45-35 loss.
“It is encouraging, at least to see, a bunch of good plays. There was great improvement from game two to game three,” Petrino said. I showed the whole team last night the opening drive where we go down and score, and the first three and out on defense. There was great enthusiasm, great fire, guys were playing with great passion. We just have to get to where can do that through the whole game.”
It will be another month before Idaho will have to leave the Palouse, with another opportunity for a statement first victory this weekend when Idaho visits Washington State.
“They’ve done a real good job, they’re probably a little bit ahead of schedule, probably going through a little bit last year what we’re going through right now, but they’re a little bit ahead of schedule,” Petrino said.
Here are more of Petrino’s comments
On playing the rivalry: “That’s kind of, let’s see as the seasons go on, who we’re playing in our conference. But I think it’s great for our program to play either them or Boise every year or every other year, that’s a good thing for the program and our fans.”
“For me the rivalry then was Boise (State), that’s the one we have to get back going here as we continue to improve.”
On the quarterbacks: Josh McCain got dinged up on Saturday but practiced on Sunday, Petrino said. The two-quarterback system helps both players, Petrino said, and that it hurt the offense in the second half when McCain wasn’t able to go back in the game when he got hurt.
“I just think it helps them. There’s just a lot of pressure on them until everybody else around them starts playing a little bit better. So it helps having them go in and out … they can stand right next to me, I can tell them some stuff to look for the next play.”
On the offensive line struggles: “There were times we just hurt ourselves.” “There were a couple drives where we were down there in good position, and one time they had a guy coming from the field and we had the call that we wanted, and we were sliding our protection, one guy missed his block and Chad (Chalich) just needs to step up and give it to our guy and it would have been an easy touchdown.”
“We moved the ball at times. I thought they played a lot better than they had in the first two games so they just have to continue to improve.”
On the 15-yard sideline penalty in the second quarter against NIU: “They gave it to me. That was just something that I disagreed with (the officials) on, I got the penalty and I can’t do that. That can’t happen again.”
Oh quarterbacks not sliding or going out of bounds: “This isn’t the NFL … they’re going to run and get every yard they can get. It’s just my philosophy. I don’t think it has anything to do with them getting worn down (in the 4th quarter)”
Petrino then made it clear he won’t be receptive to further questions on the subject of quarterback sliding.
That’s all of the more interesting tidbits from Monday. Check back for practice reports and our primer for Saturday’s Battle of Palouse.