We didn’t know how long Idaho was going to go today, considering the handful of high school juniors on hand Saturday afternoon at the Kibbie Dome. The Vandals hosted a junior day following the scrimmage, but that didn’t hinder Petrino from running another scrimmage with multiple games worth of snaps in.
The Vandals went 143 snaps during its third scrimmage of the day, staying balanced with 72 passing attempts and 71 attempts on the ground (including sacks and quarterback runs).
Paul Petrino wouldn’t commit to which side of the ball won the day, but to us it was pretty clear that the defense owned the day.
Vandal quarterback and running backs only trekked into the endzone 11 times. Three-and-outs forced by the Idaho defense were as common as scoring plays from the Idaho offense.
It’s in stark contrast to the first two scrimmages of the spring when the offense lit into the Idaho defense, which included amassing over 1,000 yards during the second scrimmage.
“We came in expecting to do that, so when we started doing it, it made everyone happy. We made the offense feel like they couldn’t do nothing,” defensive end Quinton Bradley said. “We were tired of the offense scoring so much, I kind of felt like it was pitted against us sometimes.”
So the defense did something about it.
The offense set up 25 yards away from the endzone to start the scrimmage and saw some success, scoring four touchdowns in the early period, but mostly had to deal with the front seven bringing the pressure.
“I wanted to have one period today on the 25 yard line where it was all pressure, you know the defense just blitzing on every single down, hitting their gaps, and stopping the run,” Petrino said. “I was even calling a couple runs that really weren’t ours, that other people are going to run against us and I thought they did awesome in that period. That period right there the defense came up, made some big stops, that’s something that we haven’t been doing all the time so that was a positive, that was good.”
Then the ball was moved back to the offenses’ 35-yard line, where the offense completely stalled at first. It took a handful of possessions before the offense was able to muster a scoring drive. Interceptions, missed deep balls, drops and pressure in the backfield led to the defense continually one-upping the offense — Most of the stalls were turnover on downs.
The offense began to pick it up, specifically hitting the ball down the field. Chad Chalich’s shoulder looked healthy on a 62-yard touchdown down the middle to Dezmon Epps. Matt Linehan connected with Deon Watson for a 37 yard gain down the right sideline before going left corner of the endzone on the very next play for a score with Watson.
Eleven touchdowns were scored when it was all said and done, but the defense remained stiff enough to be able to say that they generally had the better day.
“Overall I was happy with it because we kind of needed a scrimmage where the defense would come out and I still wouldn’t say they won because there was (11) touchdowns but there was a lot of plays,” Petrino said. ” … Probably, by far the loudest hitting it’s been, there was some big hits all day long so that was really good to hear.”
Notes and quotes
– The secondary stuck out today. Specifically Desmond Banks who made a couple of nice plays. His nicest was stripping Josh McCain on a deep throw down the sideline. He led the defense with three pass breakups.
– On that note, Petrino lauded the spring that Jayshawn Jordan is having. Jordan has staked a place atop the cornerback depth chart along with Delency Parham with his play this spring. He had another interception this scrimmage along with two pass breakups.
– Irving Steele is a starting linebacker for the Vandals as it stands now. He’s with the first team defense at left OLB and is with Marc Millan during Nickel packages. He had 14 tackles today and it wasn’t because running backs were getting to the next level.
– Quinton Bradly is good at this pass rushing thing. Chalk him up for three sacks and a day of harassing poor Chad Chalich. He was the reason Idaho’s defensive line was so good during this scrimmage. It wasn’t just him. Sophomores Tueni Lupeamanu and Zach Cable contributed to the push inside. With veterans Quayshawne Buckley and Ryan Edwards also in the mix, this defensive line is a scary proposition if Glen Antoine and Alfonso Hampton are to be factored in during the fall.
“Tueni, he a monster,” Bradley said. “I didn’t expect that from him, every scrimmage, every practice he’s always making plays inside, he’s going to be a big contributor this year.”
– While Petrino won’t say as much, the eye test seems to be leaning very slightly toward Matt Linehan in the quarterback competition. He threw a comfortable deep ball and has good velocity on intermediate throws. Having the statistical advantage is one thing, but Linehan just looks like the stronger more comfortable player. He has his moments as a gambler, throwing into coverage or in the case of Bradley Njoku’s interception, throwing it right to the defender.
The caveat with this is that his competition, Chad Chalich, is not 100 percent healthy. Chalich’s throwing shoulder is still clearly bothering him, especially when he throws on back-to-back days. Taking that into account, Chalich is still holding his own in this competition because he’s missing on some throws that normally one would expect him to make.
If Linehan is going to close out the competition, he will have to do it over a healthy Chalich come the fall.
– The wide receiver position is really deep, but you knew that already. Josh McCain had a modest day (and some bad drops) to finish with 96 yards on 4 receptions. Deon Watson stepped into the limelight today with 150 yards on 9 receptions. He was a nice compliment to leading receiver Dezmon Epps. The depth chart is going to be deep when Reuben Mwehla returns from his ankle injury and Richard Montgomery becomes comfortable in his receiving role.
– The offensive line picture is becoming clearer. Petrino affirmed my observations that three positions seem fairly solidified. Mason Woods has staked out his claim at strong tackle, though Jesse Davis should factor into some competition in the fall. Steven Matlock has played well enough to earn a spot at quick guard. Dallas Sandberg, Cody Elenz and Nick Van Rotz could fight him for that spot in the fall. Senior Mike Marboe is the center and that shouldn’t change barring injury.
The strong guard and quick tackle positions are up for grabs. Petrino said the goal is to get as much film as possible on all of his offensive line contenders at the different spots on the line so he can see who his five best are. Kato Fawkes, Dallas Sandberg and Sione Maile seem to factor into the competition at strong guard. Jeff Travillion, Cody Elenz and Nick Van Rotz seem the most likely candidates for quick tackle.
“We want to get as much film of all of them at different spots because it’s really going to come down to the five best and there’s a couple of them that can play both guard and tackle so we need to get them on film to look,” Petrino said.
The Vandals will practice Wednesday and Thursday at 4 p.m. The annual Silver and Gold scrimmage will take place 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Kibbie Dome.
And now, some more quotables
Chad Chalich on his shoulder health: “It’s just a little sore today just from throwing all day yesterday and then throwing today. It’s just what I have to go through and make throws … throwing deep balls it’s going to be tough. I have to make plays at throw at quarterback and I have to fight through it.”
Matt Linehan on what he’s seeing from himself after watching film: “I think most importantly I have to be balanced in the pocket, I have to feel the pocket a little bit better and have that presence that comes with experience too … I have to be able to read the defense, see what the defense is doing, I think I’ve been doing that a little bit better but I still have a lot to improve on.”
Wide receiver Dezmon Epps on how the offense overcame a sluggish start: “It’s all about making a stitch. We were bleeding on offense, it’s one play, all we need is one play to get us back rolling. All I have to do is make one play with me being a captain, that’s my main thing is getting us rolling again. I just need one big catch.”
Wide receiver Deon Watson on the progression of the secondary: “I see these guys everyday, I compete against them, we have our fair share of battles. Day to day I see it getting better easily. I think the confidence is there, I think it’s a little technique, working on their weaknesses and they’re definitely helping me work on my weaknesses, it’s a good relationship.”
Quinton Bradley on his partners on the defensive line: “It’s just fun because I don’t want to lose nobody anymore, and every year I’m losing another upperclassman and then I’m an upperclassman. I just cherish and miss everybody so I’m going to play hard while I got them right now.”
Petrino on the separation between quarterbacks: “I have to watch it on tape, I doubt it. They’re both playing good, they both made some silly mistakes today. Overall they’re both doing some really good things, I don’t know for sure, I need to watch it on tape but I wouldn’t walk off the field thinking there was any separation.”
Final official statistics
Chad Chalich: 13-29, 195 yards, 1 TD 0 INT
Matt Linehan: 27-43, 364 yards, 5 TD 2 INT
Jerrel Brown: 28 rushes, 121 yards, 2 TD
Kris Olugbode: 14 rushes, 64 yards, 1 TD
Isaiah Saunders: 14 rushes, 46 yards, 1 TD
Richard Montgomery: 2 rushes, 13 yards, 1 TD
Dezmon Epps: 10 catches, 156 yards, 3 TD
Deon Watson: 9 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD
Josh McCain: 4 catches, 96 yards, 2 TD
Richard Montgomery: 4 catches, 47 yards
Buck Cowan: 5 catches, 40 yards
DE Quinton Bradley: 5 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 sacks
OLB Irving Steele: 14 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
CB Jayshawn Jordan: 7 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 INT
S/CB Bradley Njoku: 11 tackles, 1 INT