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Fri., Aug. 23, 2013, 10:03 p.m.

Notes from UI’s Media Day & mock game

It was a busy day inside the Kibbie Dome, with the Vandals going through game situations in their mock game and then holding their Media Day in the Litehouse Center.

We recap all the action below.


The Vandals scrimmaged for 90 minutes, with the first-team offense going against the second- and third-string defense and the first-team defense going against offensive reserves. After his 19-of-20 performance last week, Chad Chalich completed 17 of 20 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns. His accuracy has been impressive, but keep in mind he thrived Friday against Idaho's backups -- and he's only been a hit a few times the last two scrimmages.

Dezmon Epps led all receivers with 121 yards on four catches, while tight end Michael LaGrone had 61 yards receiving. The running game, which had been lacking, also kicked into gear -- Richard Montgomery went for 112 yards on seven carries, James Baker had 85 yards on just three carries and coach Paul Petrino said Jerrel Brown ran the best he had all fall camp.

Our story from Moscow is here; it outlines AD Rob Spear's goal to expand the seating in the Kibbie Dome by 9,000 to 10,000 seats. "But," he said, "we have to sell it out first."

Here are some other noteworthy items from Petrino and Spear:


  • He reiterated without really saying it that Chad Chalich is the starting quarterback. "He’s playing really good. I think the game’s slowing down for him. I think he understands what’s going on. He’s accurate. … Let’s just take it one day at a time."
  • While Chalich is the top QB, Petrino said he's open to playing two quarterbacks each week. He had success doing that first year at Illinois, he said, when veteran Eddie McGee relieved Nathan Scheelhaase for 10 to 12 plays per game. "Nathan was our starter. Nathan was our guy. But there would like 10-12 plays a game, I would put in a guy named Eddie McGee who was older, more than anything to let Nathan come over to the sideline and relax. He was freshman. Just take some pressure off him." Added Petrino, "I could see more of that than anything early on" -- conceivably with Josh McCain stepping in for Chalich.
  • Petrino said this about McCain: "He’s improving, too. And I think it’s important. You’ve got to get them all better, because this day in age, it’s a violent sport. You coach every single player to improve on every single day, because everyone’s one snap away from being your guy. I think Josh improved today. I think Chad’s improved greatly; he’s playing good. But you’ve still got to keep getting Josh better, keeping getting Taylor better. Keep improving them all."
  • True freshman Richard Montgomery has a "99.5 percent chance" to start at running back and as kick returner, Petrino said. He could share starting duties at tailback with Jerrel Brown. Kris Olugbode has been held out of all the scrimmage and practiced sparingly, but Petrino expects him to be fine for Sunday's practice.
  • Safety Trey Williams has yet to return from an apparent knee injury, but Petrino said he's hoping Williams will return to practice on Sunday or Tuesday. "He’s moving around better. I’m hoping Sunday or Tuesday’s he’s full go. That would be great." Petrino said Williams could still play at North Texas week, though he wouldn't start if he's healthy enough to get on the field.
  • The Vandals will have weekly captains, but no one will be a captain for the full year, Petrino said. "I don’t think we’re ready for that. Next year we will. This year I’m going to have captains each week. So we’ll have captains for the game each week. ... We had a leadership council all summer. It will probably be guys off that. I think they’ll do a better job if the pressure’s on them. ‘OK, you’re going to lead your tail off this week.’ And then the next week it’s going to be a different couple guys." He said the same player or players could be named captains from week to week."
  • Offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich said he will be in the coach's booth during games and Petrino will call plays.


  • He and Petrino have discussed the strategy for scheduling, and they'd prefer to play just one money game a year once they get into the Sun Belt. But there will be years, he said, when they'll have to play two -- like this year. Spear would like to see the Sun Belt go to a nine-game league schedule so Idaho would only need to schedule three nonconferences games, one of which would likely be against an FCS opponent.
  • Spear said he has not talked with Boise State about reviving the football rivalry. He noted that Utah State and Utah still play while in different conferences, and the same thing should be happening with UI and BSU.
  • On the last year: "The past year it seems like all we did was react to everything, and it’s tough to get better when you’re constantly reacting to conference changes and everything going on. So now that we have that stability it’s great to move forward again."
  • On Petrino: "He’s really resonated very well with our fan base. … He has a detailed, organized plan. And the discipline he’s brought into the program has been tremendous." He noted that Idaho's team GPA was just over a 2.0 last fall but has since gone from a 2.5 in the spring to close to a 3.0 in the summer.
  • On his expectations for this season: "My expectations are this: One, I want to see a disciplined team that is well-coached, that’s prepared and that competes till the end. I don’t have any expectations; I’ll never talk about wins and losses. I just think if you do those four things, you can be successful."


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