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Chalich, Vandals show toughness in spring game

Spring football is over for the Idaho Vandals, and overall Paul Petrino said it was a success. His quarterbacks stayed healthy — despite taking a constant beating — and the same players on offense and defense stepped up over 15 sessions. But he was most impressed by how his team got tougher, something he could see in the way players got themselves off the turf after getting hit. 

We have our spring game story below, as well as lots of quotes to pass along.


****

My unedited story is below and you can find stats here. But first, here's what Petrino and Chad Chalich had to say:

PETRINO

Overall thoughts: “You saw some of the same guys on defense that had been dominating did it again today. Seemed like Chad (Chalich) had a big game. … It’s too bad that Kris (Ologbode) had such a great spring and played hard all spring — kind of sad that he wasn’t out there today. Took a beating as the spring went on.

“I just think overall we got better. Overall we kept improving. We got tougher, and I felt like we improved.”

On going with the ones versus the ones late in the scrimmage: “We lost a few guys. It was dang near ones-on-ones anyways. So I just (said), let’s got all the way ones-on-ones. Defense won one and the offense won one. It was kind of good to see, and there were lots of good plays out there.”

On the feel of the game as head coach: “It still almost felt like a scrimmage a little bit, to be honest with you. But it was fun to get out there and get a lot of plays and try to improve and get better. … I thought both sides of the ball showed good things both ways.”

On the QBs: “You’ve always got to watch the tape first, but just being out there and feeling it, it looked like Chad had a better day today.”

Does that meas Chalich is the starter?: “No, there’s a lot of time left. You’ve got all summer. All summer guys can get better and guys can compete. .. But if you had to go on the last couple of scrimmages, I would say Chad would be a little bit ahead. But there’s a lot of time.”

On defensive players who stepped up: “Kind of the same guys. Quinton Bradley has been a stud all spring. Marc Millan has really gotten after us all spring. I thought Juan Martinez had a couple big hits. Eric (Tuitpulotu) has run around and made plays all spring. I think Maxx (Forde) made a couple plays. Those six guys have probably been the biggest studs. Solomon (Dixon) has been pretty good at corner.”

On what impressed him about Chalich: “Just his ability to keep fighting, his ability to extend plays and run hard. He’s just got to continue to play hard and improve. Probably one of the hardest things for him right now is calling plays in the huddle. All high school he was shotgun, no-huddle. So that’s just something we’ve got to keep working on. Keeping having a command in the huddle. Calling the plays. Being confident in how he calls them. And just continuing to work on his reads and going through his progression.”

On Austin DeCoud at safety: “He’s been playing better. He’s a big kid. He’s a tough kid. We need to get him on the field so we can find out. He might grow into a linebacker. Austin’s a great kid. Came in and said he wanted to play.”

On James Baker: “He has got to practice more before (the rotation) gets to three. But he looked good today. There’s no question he’s a stud. He just needs to be an active stud. Not a sideline stud.”

Accomplishing what he wanted: “Yeah, no question. We got a lot of plays in. Guys got to get a lot of reps. Now the best thing is there’s all kind of film for them to study all summer of themselves. We already had film of Louisville guys doing, Arkansas guys doing it, Illinois guys doing it. And now they can themselves doing it too.”

On playing tougher: “If you’ll play with passion and play with emotion and be tough, it gives you a chance to win.”

CHAD CHALICH

Overall: “I thought we did a good job on offense. We put up a lot of points. … We came a long way from the start of spring ball till now, but we still have a lot of areas to improve on and we’re going to keep watching film this summer and keep working.”

On his play: “I thought I was more confident in the pocket and just throwing the ball. But you know, there are always things to improve on and I’m going to go watch film and see what I need to improve on.”

*****

Here's my story:

By Josh Wright
Correspondent

MOSCOW, Idaho – His first spring football as Idaho coach complete, Paul Petrino declared the Vandals an improved team from when they started on March 22. But more importantly, he said they're a tougher team, too.

The quarterbacks absorbed hit after hit over the course of 15 sessions, and a new batch of junior-college running backs and linebackers delivered blows with their physical styles.

But the most impressive thing this spring to Petrino? How players on both sides handled collisions as camp progressed.

“If you've noticed the last two scrimmages, there's a couple guys who got nicked up today, but for the most part, you don't see guys laying on the ground … ” Petrino said. “Usually now if they're on the ground, they’re actually hurt. Otherwise they jump up; they're playing tough.”

No player showed that toughness Friday night in the Idaho spring game more than Chad Chalich. The redshirt freshman quarterback from Coeur d'Alene rose about the fray at quarterback – at least until fall camp – with a gritty five-touchdown performance to lead the Silver team to a 54-12 win over the Gold team.

Chalich passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns and showed his comfort in running the read-option with 102 yards on the ground. His last of two rushing TDs came when he lowered his shoulder near the goal line to get in the end zone.  

That play and others caught the eye of his teammates.

“We hate to see him get hit at all, but to see someone as small as him get those hits and get back up, I mean, he's a true warrior – a grinder, as we would say,” tailback Jerrel Brown said. “If Chad can take it, then we've got to take the hits. … We love to see the fire in Chad.”

Late in the spring game, Petrino had seen the Silver team – composed of mostly starters – have their way with the Gold team long enough, so he reshuffled each side to pit the both first units against each other for the first time.

Two plays into the series, Taylor Davis was relieved at QB by Chalich, and the No. 1 defense had the upper hand in forcing a turnover on downs. But then Chalich led the first-team offense on the next series by extending several plays with his arm or feet and scoring on a tough 10-yard run.

“I thought I was more confident in the pocket and just throwing the ball,” Chalich said.
 
Petrino declined to name Chalich the starter after spring. But he said he would be the No. 1 QB if the season started next week. JC signee Josh McCain figures to be in the mix in the fall.

The Vandals simulated a real game as much as they could over the course of 160 plays – 100 less than Petrino jokingly said he wanted to go. With no kickers or punters on the roster, drives started arbitrarily at different spots on the field. And obvious field goal and punting situations were bypassed, as they had been in earlier scrimmages.

Even with the lopsided teams, Brown stood out with 159 yards on 20 carries. He had a larger role with the spring's other standout at running back, Kris Olugbode, banged up and getting only one carry.

  


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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