Second year Idaho coach Paul Petrino wanted to make it clear at the start of spring that there was no more ‘his guys, my guys’ when referring to players recruited by former coach Robb Akey.
That culture shift has shown through 14 practices this spring, with the focus being more on repetition, forming a depth chart and making fundamental improvements. This is in contrast to last spring, when Petrino and staff were finding where guys fit and trying finding out who was going to buy in — something that carried over into the fall.
“You can just tell in the locker room and on the field that it’s a different team,” redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Linehan said.
Emphasis has been on repetitions. Through three scrimmages the Vandals have run nearly six games’ worth of plays. Friday’s Silver and Gold spring game should present more of the same.
The team went through a full padded practice on Wednesday before going light on Thursday with no pads. On Friday evening the Vandals will have a short warm-up period before getting into scrimmage action.
“Sometimes in practice it’s scripted and you chalk every single play. The game is more just called up and roll, and hopefully you don’t have many mistakes. Any time they can just go out and play a whole bunch of football and have it not be scripted, that’s good for us, because it gives us more reps of just improving,” Petrino said.
The spring game will be broadcast on SWX. There will be no radio. We’ll be Tweeting all the action from Vandal Nation.
Here are some notes and quotes from the practice I attended on Wednesday:
– Kicker Austin Rehkow will only get limited work on PATs and won’t be punting. He is recovering from a back injury.
Petrino on wanting to take three days off after the last scrimmage: “I really wanted to take some time to make sure we got the scrimmage watched and graded and everything evaluated from that instead of hurrying up and going on Monday and then tomorrow is the last, no padded practice, so it’s not a whole lot. It’s kind of a hard day today, get ready tomorrow and then scrimmage on Friday.”
Petrino on the importance of the game for Matt Linehan and Chad Chalich, competing for the starting quarterback position: “I think it’s real important, I think everytime they step on the field it’s important. I think it’s a chance for them to get better, a chance for them to step forward, had another real long blitz period today, that’s something that’s real important for them. There’s not a day they step on the field that isn’t important for them, anytime you can make a game day kind of atmosphere and they’re out there on their own I think that’s always important. Just the more experience they get the better.”
I had the opportunity to talk with linebacker Irving Steele, who has been impressing since arriving on campus this spring from Ellsworth Community College. Steele has notched a starting spot, mostly at middle linebacker, but has played WILL and pairs with Marc Millan in nickel packages.
On what Paul Petrino asked out of him: “He basically told me to come in and be a leader, be a captain right away. It wasn’t really challenging because I’m all about competing. I figure I’d come in with them starting, I compete as good as I know I can play, get bigger and stronger, I’ll be in the starting group in no time.”
On how the current linebackers have taken to him: “Those guys are great, I thought coming in since I was looking to take someone’s position I thought they were going to be like ‘I can’t help you with this.’ But Marc (Millan), Juan (Martinez) and Eric (Tuipulotu), they’re great guys, and also Broc Westlake, they’re great guys. They help me out with everything, they help me study film, they tell me what I got, they help me get me in my stance and I respect those guys a lot. Because I know a lot of guys coming in, if you coming in to take someone’s position they’re going to look at you like ‘he’s my enemy’ but we all brothers.”
On the kind of linebacker he is: “I think I’m a sideline to sideline linebacker, I really just like to tackle, I’ve been tackling all my life since I was seven years old, I just like to get to the ball and make the play, I just like to tackle.”
And here’s quarterback Matt Linehan
On his comfort-level in the offense: “So much more. I just feel like when I go to the line I’m not ‘what am I doing, what am I doing.’ I’m going up there confident, I know my reads, I know my check downs I know where everything is. Better than what I knew last year, I still have to learn a lot, so much more comfortable under center than I was last year.”
On if there are any nerves for his first spring game: “As long as I’m prepared, I think preparation is the most important thing. As long as we come out prepared I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of nerves because we have to know what we’re doing. If we come out prepared and ready to go I don’t think the nerves will be there.”