Idaho coach Paul Petrino met with the media today to preview the Vandals' spring game. And yes, this will be as close to a real game as you can have in the spring. More after the jump.
First, here's an unedited version of our preview for Friday's paper. We have some extra quotes below.
By Josh Wright
MOSCOW, Idaho – Really, it's just a dressed-up scrimmage four-plus months before the season. Yet Idaho is treating tonight's spring football finale like a “real” game, with 15-minute quarters, clock stoppage and all.
First-year coach Paul Petrino said he hopes to run 200 plays – or “as many plays as we can” – when the Vandals congregate at 6 p.m. at the Kibbie Dome. That's only slightly more than the team chugged through in its second of three scrimmages two weeks ago.
Petrino has introduced the Vandals to an intricate playbook in daily installments. He's pleased with how the players have digested it, but he said the summer months will also be crucial.
“Not just knowing the play, but knowing every little detail why the play works – that’s really what separates you from being good to great,” said Petrino, who was hired in December after working as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Arkansas.
Fans who show up or tune in to SWX in Spokane will see a team that's incremently improved, Petrino said. Newcomers Kris Olugbode and Jerrel Brown have provided a lift at running back. Linebacker Marc Millan and defensive end Quinton Bradley have caught eyes with their quickness, while Petrino said receiver Maurice Trotter has been the biggest surprise of spring.
But Idaho will likely look much different when it opens the season Aug. 30 at North Texas, particularly at the skill positions.
Incoming junior-college quarterback Josh McCain will get a long look for the starting role after neither Chad Chalich nor Taylor Davis grabbed the No. 1 spot in spring. The Vandals will run variations of the option, and Petrino said McCain is “probably” a more natural runner than Chalich or Davis.
The coach also expects cornerback Delency Parham, safety Desmond Banks and other new arrivals in the secondary to fill key holes. Without a full complement of defensive backs, UI has used receiver Roman Runner at corner and transplanted QB Austin DeCoud at safety.
On receivers: Jahrie Level has been the most consistent, Najee Lovett had the best first few practices, but “needs to learn how to play more consistent.” Regarding Maurice Trotter: “The one that’s been as good as any of them has been Maurice Trotter. … Had a real good spring.”
On surprises during spring: “Maurice Trotter would be one of them. I think he’s stepped up and made plays, And we’re still looking for that. I think you feel good about six or seven on each side of the ball, and then there’s some other spots that (guys) have to step up.”
On incoming signees who could have quick impact: “The kicker (Austin Rehkow) … he better be a great one.” The Vandals have no kickers on the roster — and no punters, either. Petrino mentioned that skill-position players have an easier time adjusting to the college game. He mentioned Delency Parham, Desmond Banks, Armond Hawkins — all defensive backs — as well as RB Richard Montgomery and LB Tony Lashley.
On defense: Marc Millan and Quinton Bradley have been the two best players during spring. “They both fly around. They’re both just playmakers. Marc always shows up in a bad attitude, hitting people and making plays and causing havoc. And Quinton has a great get-off. Getting after the quarterback all the time or hunting down tacklers from behind. And really the speed they both play with, and the playmaking ability they both have. I think those two guys are going to make a lot of plays for us on defense.”