There was little out of the ordinary for the Vandals on Friday night, it was the usual names who’ve stood out all spring were also the ones who stood out during Idaho football’s spring game. Though, we learned a little about where second-year coach Paul Petrino may be leaning in terms of his depth chart.
Starting with the quarterbacks: Redshirt freshman Matt Linehan looked impressive working the middle of the field. He had good velocity on the ball and made very few mistakes, finishing with two touchdowns. Sophomore Chad Chalich overcame the shoulder fatigue he’s been dealing with during the spring and tossed two touchdown passes himself.
The two split time among the first and second teams, with Linehan spelling Chalich on a couple of occasions mid-drive. Once because Petrino liked Linehan’s height better on the bootleg play. Another because coaches messed up the rotations, Petrino said.
For those hoping for Petrino to point out clear separation between the two, you’re in for a long summer. Petrino sees the competition carrying well into fall practices, even eluding that both have good opportunities in seeing playing time in 2014.
“They’ve both had good springs and it’s going to be a battle, and I think it’s good going into to summer going in as a battle, it’ll make them both work so much harder to try and beat each other out,” Petrino said. “In this day and age in football with some of the pass rushers that they have out there, if you can have two quarterbacks who are really good that’s good because you could lose one of them like that. The more reps we can get them both, we get them both better, then we’re in good shape.”
Now, some other quick notes:
– Junior Kris Olugbode and senior Jerrel Brown split time with the first team at running back. The two combined for 166 yards on 24 carries. Petrino has said he’d like one to separate from the other, though that might have to wait until the fall when junior college signee Elijhaa Penny joins the fray.
– There was a moment of breath-holding when senior quarterback-turned-wide receiver Josh McCain left the game with an ankle injury. He was on crutches and with ice wrapped over his left ankle when we went in for interviews, although Petrino said he was fine. If it’s nothing serious, McCain, Deon Watson and Dezmon Epps are close leading the fray as the top three pass-catching targets.
– The offensive line picture seems to be coming along, though Petrino wants more tape and more tinkering in the fall. The spring game first team line was, from left to right: Nick Van Rotz, Steven Matlock, Mike Marboe, Kato Fawkes, Mason. On the second team it was Jeff Travillion, Cody Elenz, Sione Maile, Dallas Sandberg and Calvin White.
– Jayshawn Jordan is having a good spring and solidified that on Friday night. He and Delency Parham are the top two cornerbacks coming out of the spring. Except heavy competition for positions in the secondary in the fall.
– Austin Rehkow is recovering from a back injury and was not able to attempt any field goals or punts. He was limited to attempting extra points after every touchdown and converted on all of them.
– Defensive coordinator Ronnie Lee used a platoon at linebacker in the second half of the scrimmage, mixing in Eric Tuipulotu, Juan Martinez, Broc Westlake, James Randall, Irving Steele and Marc Millan. Randall seemed to line up in Marc Millan’s SAM/pass rushing position. Tuipulotu had the hit of the game, forcing a fumble on the goal line.
– Sophomore safety Russell Siavii continued to get looks in Idaho’s first-team nickel package. Siavii led the game in tackles with 11.
– Welcome back, Quayshawne Buckley. The senior defensive tackle, who found out mid-spring that he had an extra year of eligibility remaining, led the game in tackles-for-loss with 3, which included 2 sacks.
– Scat-back Richard Montgomery had a strong day, looking impressive on two draw plays which he turned into touchdowns. He also had the first touchdown of the scrimmage, a receiving touchdown on a wheel route.
Now, here’s every coach and player comment from the post-game
Idaho coach Paul Petrino
On what he liked and didn’t like from his quarterbacks
“They’ve got to be ready to get the ball out of their hands and not take all those hits. This guy over here (Quinton Bradley) would have sacked them a few more times than probably credited for. They need to get the ball out of their hands, but they both understand the offense so much better than last year. Do a good job of getting us in the right place in the running game, and it’s going to be a heck of a fight and a competition and that’s a great thing for our football team. Because I feel like we’ve got two really good quarterbacks and that’s good, that’s where everything really starts.”
On if he pulled Chalich mid-drive because of his shoulder
“No, had nothing to do with that. One drive I wanted to run naked to the left and Linehan’s taller, I thought they were going to come up the field so he can go like that and that’s exactly what happened. And the other drive they got screwed up on their rotation, they were up wrong.”
On the biggest difference between this spring and last spring
“But you can see, I’ve seen it all spring. First of all we’re so much faster, our whole team is so much faster, our whole team works so much harder. You could hear the hitting, you can just sit out there and hear it, and you know we’re a way better football team. It’s exciting, it’s an exciting time right now. I think the attitude and the effort and just the feeling that you have as a team is awesome and it’s exciting to go out on the practice field every day. You can coach, you can teach, you don’t have to worry about just talking about effort and attitude. You just coach technique and that’s a good thing.”
On if ‘His guys, my guys’ talk has been squashed this spring
“We’re a unit right now, we’re a fist, I think we’ve all came (together). We worked hard all off-season doing a lot of different things to come together, and I feel like we’re really close right now and that we have all summer to get even closer. But I think we’re a very tight unit right now and we just have to keep doing that, keep getting closer. That’s just something that we all have to work on, as coaches, as players, we’ve all got to come closer and I think that’s happening.”
On if there’s any noticeable separation between the two quarterbacks
“Not as I walk off the field, not before I watch the tape. But just the whole picture of work this spring, they’ve both had good springs and it’s going to be a battle, and I think it’s good going into to summer going in as a battle, it’ll make them both work so much harder to try and beat each other out. In this day and age in football with some of the pass rushers that they have out there, if you can have two quarterbacks who are really good that’s good because you could lose one of them like that. The more reps we can get them both, we get them both better, then we’re in good shape.”
On how set the offensive line is
“A little bit, there’s still a couple guys that worked with the other unit, just because they’ve worked together. What I wanted to do the last two weeks was work groups together because it’s hard if you always move them around. I would say there’s probably three spots that are still wide open, to be honest with you. But I just wanted to work those two groups together. But, it’s wide open and we have another JC guard coming in too, there will be all kinds of competition.”
On the performance of the defensive front
“Yeah, I think the first team defensive line has a chance to be pretty special. We just have to keep working hard and keep improving. And then, I think the skill players on offense maybe make the O-Line look better a couple times but we have to keep improving there. I think we have a chance to be real good both places. Quarterback, O-Line, D-Line, if you want to win championships that’s kind of where it all starts. Right now, the future looks bright, because I think we have a chance to be good at all of those spots.”
On the performance of Richard Montgomery
“He looked fast, he made some big plays. We worked him a lot this spring to learn the receiver position so he could play both, and some of the runs we hand him the ball on, that’s natural for him. He got a lot better at receiver this spring. But you got to get the ball in his hands, we’ve got to make sure we get the ball in his hands more because of his speed. His speed, that’s the biggest thing that excites me about our team right now is that we’re so much faster. That’s how you have a chance to make big plays on both sides of the ball.”
Defensive end Quinton Bradley
On if the ‘Akey’s guys, Petrino’s guys’ stigma is with the team this spring
“That stigma if it was there, it’s gone.”
On the performance of his fellow D-Linemen
“You saw Zach (Cable)? Three sacks. (Ed note: Cable was officially listed with one sack). It was good all around, you finally got to get some three and outs and get off the field so you feel more fresh. I was impressed, I’m proud, I’m just ready for the season.”
Quarterback Chad Chalich
On how he felt he did
“I felt I did some good things, but there’s always areas to improve on. It’s a team game, our offense did a great job getting involved on the field, and the defense did a great job at stopping us. You know it’s a team game, as a whole unit, as an offense, we did a great job.”
On being pulled mid-drive for Matt Linehan
“It’s just something we have to do, coach is going to put me and Matt in situations to really succeed, so you know, it’s just something that coach wants to do. He’s going to make the right decision.”
On what he needs to do over the summer to get better
“Get in the training room, get my arm right, go up and watch film, watch the spring game, see areas where I can improve on. And just go out every day and just work on things I need to improve.”
On how the team feels this year compared to last spring
“It’s night and day, there’s so much more energy, guys are just fired up, ready to get after it. I think we’re all ready to start winning. It’s been a while, so really we’re ready to turn it around and start winning.”
Quarterback Matt Linehan
On throwing 46 passes
“It’s nothing new with these scrimmages throwing 50 plus passes, it’s nothing we’re not used to at this point with all those reps we’ve been taken. Today was way shorter than those scrimmages. You do those 190-plus play scrimmages, get those crazy reps in the offense and l’m reps in the offense. The throws today I’m not concerned about, it was nothing like those scrimmages, I was ready for it.”
On if his spring game was how he expected
“There was some things I didn’t see (coming), I’m going to go into the film room and take a look at what I need to improve upon. But for the most part we’ve been doing the same stuff all spring, spring game we came out prepared, for the most part, the defense was doing what we were supposed to be ready for. We did a lot of good things today, but go back and watch the tape and see where we can improve.”
On what he feels he needs to improve on before looking at the film
“Just got to work, seeing the defense, making my reads. Being consistent, be balanced in the pocket, stepping into my throws, not fading away from my throws. Get better with my reads, I think that’s something I can improve upon over the summer.”
Running back/wide receiver Richard Montgomery
On what he wants to improve on over the summer
“Looking forward to the fall, that was a great job, there’s always stuff I can get better. There’s some areas I want to work on most, like getting north and south instead of just running sideline to sideline, and I want to put on a little more weight so I can be able to take these tackles, and keep going in between the tackles instead of just keep trying to run outside.”
On how it feels to hear Petrino say he needs to get the ball in Montgomery’s hands
“That brings a lot of confidence in my game because the coach believes in me, the staff believes in me, so it’s on you to make the play when it’s time to make the play. So I’m just preparing myself to make a play every time when they tell me it’s my time.”
Wide receiver Deon Watson
On Idaho’s depth at wide receiver
“It’s pretty great, we’re not solely dependent on one person. The depth is crazy, even Jacob Sannon is out there getting some pretty good reps. (Dezmon Epps) is a given, you know he’s going to ball out. And Josh, you could swear he’s been playing receiver forever. We all look good, it’s all love. It’s great when you have depth, not only fatigue wise but you know you can rely on each other.”
On what the receivers are doing to assist Richard Montgomery and Josh McCain transition to the position
“We’ve been in the spot for a little bit longer and I know Josh has been in the playbook for a while, every now and then we’ve got to help them with plays and schemes, I mean, for switching right away, they’ve picked up right away. They don’t need too much help.”
On which quarterback he might prefer
“It’s a win-win situation for us. Like I always say, they’ve got different styles of play but they’re both great quarterbacks … You really don’t notice at all (which quarterback is throwing). As long as that ball’s up in the air, that’s what you notice.”
On how close the team has been
“I mean, we don’t bond like other teams do. We usually bond over throwing up and running quite a bit, that’s a different way of bonding but it’s a stronger way. We’re going to hit the weight room hard, condition hard and come back”
On how he feels about his game going into his redshirt sophomore season
“I feel like I have a lot more confidence in the way I play. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m not the fastest guy out there, but I do like to take pride in being a physical receiver who’s going to go get the ball when my name’s called.”
Full statistics from media relations
(Number) Name Comp Att Yards Long TD INT Pass% YPA
 Chalich 16 27 306 69 2 0 59.3% 11.3
 Linehan 30 46 373 61 2 0 65.2% 8.1
Total: 46 73 679 69 4 0 63.0% 9.3
[Number] Name Rec Yards Long TD Avg.
 Epps 11 121 23 2 11.0
 Watson 9 160 17 0 17.8
 McCain 4 80 18 0 20.0
 Montgomery 4 80 61 1 20.0
 Pastras 3 25 12 0 8.3
 Cowan 3 31 13 0 10.3
 Brown 1 6 6 0 6.0
 Sannon 9 142 69 1 15.8
 Saunders 2 14 13 0 7.0
 Podrabsky 2 20 12 0 10.0
Total 48 679 69 4 14.1
[Number] Name Rushes Yards Long TD Avg
 Brown 14 86 14 2 6.1
 Chalich 9 -18 9 0 -2.0
 Linehan 4 1 7 0 0.3
 Olugbode 10 80 36 2 8.0
 Coman 2 -2 0 0 -1.0
 Saunders 16 5 3 0 0.3
 Montgomery 4 83 61 2 20.8
Total: 59 235 61 6 4.0
Siavii 11, Lashley 8, Buckley 7, Steele 7, Hennessey 7, Peterson 7, Jordan 6, Millan 5, Forde 5, Sule 5, Hawkins 5, Westlake 5, Tuipulotu 4, Banks 4, Edwards 3, Douglas 3, Njoku 3, Parham 2, Bradley 2, Vielma 2, Randall 2, Wells 2, Cable 1, Burgsmueller 1, Martial 1, Grabski 1, Epps 1, Martinez 1, Neal 1
Tackles for Loss:
Buckley 3, Forde 1, Cable 1, Burgsmueller 1, Jordan 1, Rice 1, Edwards 1, Westlake 1
Buckley 2, Cable 1, Burgsmueller 1, Rice 1, Edwards 1,
Pass Break Ups:
Banks, Rice, Martial, Grabski, Jordan, Burgsmueller, Douglas, Njoku
False Start +5, Holding -10, Block in the Back -10, Defensive Pass Interference +15, Offside +5