While it might have been Idaho’s third practice of the spring, Saturday was the first time players could put on the pads and go full contact against each other.
Players like defensive end Quinton Bradley and running back Elijhaa Penny were especially excited to finally hit their teammates and let out some excitement for the upcoming season.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been out here,” Bradley said. “Finally get to throw some people around and get after it. Everyone’s happy.”
The feelings were mutual for Penny.
“It felt good,” he said. “You know everyone on the defense, they all want to run by you and act like they tackled you. So today we actually seeing the guys who can really tackle and play defense.”
After a disappointing 1-10 record last season, the Vandals have high hopes for 2015, and with the APR sanctions lifted the team has a chance to earn a bowl bid.
Seniors like Bradley and Penny enter their final year at Idaho with high hopes. This year’s senior class has never won more than one game in a single season while playing at Idaho — and experienced a bowl ban on top of that.
With their last chance to earn a spot in the postseason, winning a bowl game is the mindset the team, and especially the seniors, have going into fall.
“Get that bowl ring,” Bradley bluntly said of his goal for his final season. “This is my last year for sure, so all we want is to end this year with a bowl ring wherever we play and move on, be happy and bring something to the (Kibbie) Dome.”
Bradley showed his excitement Saturday, by disrupting a few offensive plays in the backfield. Bradley wasn’t the only defensive player making big plays either, as safety turned linebacker Chris Edwards joined the fun, too. The senior had an impressive tackle on a running back about four yards behind the line of scrimmage, and getting there before the play even had a chance to develop.
With that said, the Vandal quarterbacks still had a decent amount of protection for most of the practice. Idaho coach Paul Petrino said he was satisfied with how both lines played throughout the practice, and said no side really had an advantage.
“I think it was kind of back and forth,” Petrino said. “That’s what you want it to be. I don’t think either side dominated. There were some times both sides kinda got after it … I’d say it was pretty even today.”
Bradley got a firsthand look at the offensive line, and said he likes what he sees so far.
“We got a lot of new people, a lot of new positions and people are getting better,” Bradley said. “Everyone is still trying out guard and tackle and where they fit at, so all with time. We’ve got the spring ball to work at it so I believe in them.”
As for the defensive line, Bradley didn’t hold back thoughts on his position group.
“We’re going to be good,” he said with a laugh and smile. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Ben Evensen can be reached at VandalNation@uidaho.edu