Idaho's second scrimmage didn't go quite as long as the first, nor was it quite as hot in Moscow for the late morning/early afternoon session. Still, after the first and second units scrimmaged for more than 90 minutes, coach Paul Petrino had the third team, filled with mostly newcomers, go for close to another 45 minutes on their own.
We've got a summary of quarterback Chad Chalich's remarkable 19-of-20 passing day and Petrino's full comments to the media with the season opener at North Texas two weeks away.
The Vandals sprinkled in special teams' work, including a few punts from Austin Rehkow, and quite a bit of work for backups and redshirts. But really, the heart of Saturday was spent early on, when the first-team offense went against the first-team defense "straight in a row for a long time," Petrino said.
It was those first few series that Chalich, a redshirst freshman, was superb. His first pass of the day, and the first play of the scrimmage, was batted down by Quinton Bradley. After that, he finished with 19 consecutive passes, and completed seven in a row on the first three series when he took all the snaps and led the team to two touchdowns.
While Petrino said he might not make public who Idaho's starting QB will be for the opener, Chalich is the clear leader judging by the first two scrimmages and majority of snaps he took.
After two series with Josh McCain at QB, the sixth started with senior Taylor Davis under center. But following two shaky incompletions, Davis was pulled for Chalich on fourth down. Chalich found tight end Clayton Homme over the middle to keep the series alive, then completed another pass before Justin Parkins ran in a short touchdown.
That made nine consecutive completions.
Then, on the first play of the seventh series, Chalich found Deon Watson -- his former Coeur d'Alene High teammate -- deep for a long TD connection. As center Mike Marboe walked off the field, he said loudly, "Oh, I love those plays."
Chalich came back for the eighth series and completed three more consecutive passes, giving him 13 straight completions by my count. His last pass of the series was a long touch pass that running back Richard Montgomery caught for a TD after burning linebacker Eric Tuipulotu down the sideline.
After true freshman Matt Linehan took a few snaps and the Vandals had a very brief halftime, Chalich again showed his accuracy down the field. On the first play of the 11th series, he connected with tight end Mike LaGrone, who caught the ball near the right sideline and cut back to the middle for a TD.
That made 14 straight completions.
Chalich led the offense to touchdowns on the next two drives and completed three more passes in a row to extend his streak (that made 17 by my unofficial count on the sideline). The last two on the 13th series, he found Dezmon Epps deep over the middle and then hit Watson again in the corner of the end zone for a TD.
Chalich's final stat line: 19 of 20 passing, 414 yards, five touchdowns and 32 rushing yards and two TDs on the ground. Afterward, Petrino was happy with his QB's effort -- but also pointed to two plays that could have been better. Below are his complete comments.
NOTES – Safety Trey Williams could return Monday after missing all of fall camp with an apparent knee injury. "We need to get him back here," Petrino said after the secondary struggled. … Running backs Kris Olugbode and James Baker sat out for the second straight scrimmage with undisclosed injuries. Defensive tackle QuayShawne Buckley also sat out, while offensive lineman Spencer Beale had his leg in a boot on the sideline. With guard Dallas Sandberg still sidelined with a concussion, senior Larry Dugan saw some time with the first unit.
Overall thoughts ... "It looked the offense had a real good, obviously. You’ve got to go watch it on tape, but Chad hit a lot of big plays. You saw the little guy, No. 4 (Richard Montgomery), making plays all over the field. Deon had some big plays. I thought the O-line played a lot better. It looked to me like the offense had a really good day, and so sometimes maybe that means the defense didn’t. Again, until you go watch it on tape, it’s never as good or bad. There’s probably a couple times, without Chad being live today, Quinton (Bradley) might have possibly had him (for a sack), but maybe not either. So we’ve just got to keep grinding.
"I like the attitude. I thought we came out and played hard. I went ones on ones straight in a row for a long time, and so the games should be easy. They’ll never go that many plays in a row on offense or defense. We had a lot of plays. A lot of plays went one after another. And we’ve just got to continue to improve and we’ll be good."
Was the effort there from all the players today? … "I felt like it was a lot better. Sometimes you don’t know that until you watch tape and you can grade every single guy. It seemed a lot better. It seemed liked our attitudes were a lot better. We were playing hard. I heard some popping going on out there. … I did not think the defense came out very good the first two series after halftime. And you can’t have that. That’s important. But other than that, I thought the effort and hitting was pretty good."
On Chalich’s performance? … "It was really good. There was a couple plays where he still made me upset, but other than that he played really well. One time he had a couple guys who were hot, and he had to see him; another time he went the wrong way on a read. That’s about all I can think of. He played really well."
A lot of plays deep down the field. Do you like what you saw there? … "Yeah. Really when we’ve been our best is when we can throw play action down the field, be real good in our quick game and then run the ball. Not have to throw a whole lot of dropback. Just throw the ball down the field and play action. Run the ball well and throw a lot of quick game — that’s usually when we’ve played well."
Is there a bigger concern than others right now? … "You know, again probably have to watch the film a little bit more. And again, I probably don’t want North Texas knowing our biggest concerns. So I’m probably not going to answer that question."
What did you think of Deon Watson today? It seems like he’s really coming along … "Man, he has. He’s really came along. Just every day he keeps making plays, making plays. Had two real good scrimmages. Does it every day in practice. He’s a big, physical kid. It’s just great to see. And our depth at receiver is just kind of making you happier and happier all the time. More guys are stepping up and making plays. So I feel pretty good about that."
Areas of improvement heading into this week? … "I think every week I’ll probably say run the ball. We’ve got to run the ball better and we’ve got to tackle better. Because really if you can run the ball and you can tackle well, you’ve got a chance to win. So we’ve got to just keep grinding. We’ve got to keep going against each other for the speed and competitiveness. But now we’ll starting narrowing in and working our game plan against the schemes that North Texas does. Really, ‘hese are the runs we’re going to run against North Texas,’ so we can start working on them. And ‘these are the runs we have to stop against North Texas.’ So this next week we’ll be fun, it will be exciting. Now we’ve got two weeks and then it’s showtime, so we’ve got to go do it."
What kind of versatility have you seen from Richard Montgomery, both in the run game and the pass game? … "He’s pretty special. What have you seen? God dang, I’d say he’s pretty good. You know, what you like about Richard is he’s just one of those guys who is just happy every day. Just always got a smile on his face. He likes football. He doesn’t get tired — he’s too athletic. You know, you say that usually the great athletes don’t get tired. If you get tired all the time, you’re not a very good athlete. And he doesn’t get tired. He just plays hard, has fun making plays. He can run and catch it. He can run it from the backfield and for his size, he can up inside and he can run outside. He’s just a young punk, though; we’ve got to keep getting him better."
Trey Williams was running around out here … "Yeah, we need to get him back here. Hopefully he’ll back out here Monday."
Safety and secondary — kind of some question marks there? … "No. We looked great in the secondary today." (Petrino was laughing and obviously being sarcastic.)
Tight ends had a good day today … "They did. They did a good job today. It was good to see them. They blocked well. It was good to see them make plays down the field. We’ve got some speed at tight end, so that makes it good. You can get in some heavier formations that people call to run the ball, then still have speed with those guys to throw it down the field, which is a good thing."
Considering your experience at that position, those are guys you want to integrate? … "Yeah, they should be good players for us. The more weapons you’ve got, the more bullets you’ve got, the better. We always talk about, ‘Feed the studs.’ And the more of those we have, the better off we are."