Update: Aug. 4
As we anticipated, Petrino said last week that this job will an open competition. He said of the competition: “I think out of spring ball Chad came out as the leading quarterback. He’ll start out as the guy people got to beat out. I think Taylor Davis continued to improve and got better as spring went on.”
“Anytime you recruit a JC guy (in Josh McCain) you recruit him with a chance to start, so it’ll just be a competition, so we’ll find out. I think Matt Linehan will be a good quarterback for us here in the future, he’ll probably redshirt. It’s a good situation when you have a couple guys you think will be real good players, it’ll be a competition throughout.”
Previous primer ———
Idaho had three quarterbacks when Paul Petrino took the head coaching job. It took him all of two months to double that number, and his reasoning was simple — The more quarterbacks you have on roster the bigger your chances of hitting on a winner. Since, as he puts it, if you don’t have that quarterback then you aren’t going to be successful.
But there was one player specifically who Petrino had his eye when he stepped into the job, Josh McCain.
“I was going after Josh from the get go. There was a time in the recruiting process where I wasn’t sure if we were going to get him, to be honest with you,” Petrino said on signing day. “I made sure we got Anthony (Neyer) because he’s smart, understands the game, he’s accurate. So I made my odds higher to make sure we end up with a good quarterback.”
Petrino landed his junior college quarterback target about a week before signing day.
Neyer, who enrolled in January, ended up flopping in spring practice, falling far behind No. 2 quarterback Taylor Davis. But it’s McCain who is expected to enter fall practice and challenge redshirt freshman Chad Chalich for the starting job, if not come in immediately as the favorite.
McCain comes from DeAnza College where he led the team to an 8-3 record, tossing 32 touchdowns in 11 games and rushing for 626 yards.
This would probably be a good time to mention that Petrino and offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich spent the spring transitioning Idaho into a read-option attack.
“I’m sure anyone who’s watched him on Youtube or Hudl, he’s this generation’s double-threat, Johnny Football type of quarterback,” Petrino said. “He’s got a chance to be a real special player for us. He can run, he can throw it, he can throw it on the run, he extends plays and makes big time plays.”
Those highlights show speed, change of direction, shiftiness and a powerful arm from the to-be junior. The numbers also suggest consistency issues, however. He was held under 50-percent completion in five of his 11 games and 12 of his 16 interceptions came during DeAnza’s losses.
Stiff competition should still be expected from Chalich, who rarely seemed out-of-sorts running his high school offense during spring ball. Chalich was instinctive when making runs, hitting the holes, and making reads down the field while on the run.
All indications are that entering the fall Petrino has done what he intended to do — Making his odds higher of finding the right guy.
Quarterbacks at a glance
Departed players: Logan Bushnell, Dominique Blackman
Returning players: Taylor Davis – Sr., Chad Chalich – RFr.
Incoming players: Josh McCain – Jr., Anthony Neyer – Jr., Matthew Linehan, Fr.
Other roster note: Redshirt freshman Austin DeCoud spent the latter part of freshman practice running with the safeties. He struggled with accuracy during the first couple of scrimmages prior to the move.
Our projected depth chart
1. Josh McCain
2. Chad Chalich
3. Taylor Davis
4. Anthony Neyer
There’s nothing to suggest that it won’t be an open quarterback competition when fall camp kicks off, but the coach who recruited the player also tends to play a factor and for McCain that’s the current head coach. It’s also hard not to connect the dots with a dual-threat quarterback and an option offense. But that’s what scrimmages will be for. The second consecutive fall of quarterback controversy is coming to a Kibbie Dome near you.