The Idaho football teams kicks off the season at North Texas exactly one month from tomorrow. And it starts fall camp on Monday with a 3 p.m. practice. Before then, first-year coach Paul Petrino met with reporters today. We have the highlights after the link.
Let's start with the newsiest items from Petrino's 30-minute teleconference.
Offensive lineman Jordan Johnson could miss the year with a back injury, prompting Petrino and his staff to keep former defensive lineman Jesse Davis on the OL, where he moved during spring because of injuries. Johnson has been on-again, off-again starter during his career — but he's also never stayed fully healthy. Davis, from Asotin, Wash., was a sturdy defensive tackle for the Vandals, and he acknowledged in spring that the O-line was much more mentally challenging than playing on the D-line.
Another player who switched positions during the spring, Austin DeCoud, has switched yet again, going from safety to linebacker, Petrino said. DeCoud came to Moscow as a quarterback but quickly moved to safety during the spring. Petrino said DeCoud keeps getting bigger, which made the move to LB a logical step.
DeCoud is part of a crowded, talented and inexperienced group of linebackers. Broc Westlake, a JC transfer, has been cleared to practice, Petrino said, after missing the spring with an injury. And he'll join three other JC transfers — Mark Millan, Juan Martinez and Eric Tuipuloto — who had nice springs. None of those players have started for the Vandals. Returners at LB include James Randall and Matthew Willis. Russell Siavii, the younger brother of Rob, is a redshirt freshman.
The biggest spotlight in fall camp will be on the Vandals' quarterback competition. Petrino said Coeur d'Alene native Chad Chalich, a redshirt freshman, is the QB to beat coming into camp. Chalich had a strong spring finale and was declared the No. 1 QB going into the summer. But Petrino said JC transfer Josh McCain, who was not at UI for spring ball, has a chance to start, too. And Taylor Davis, the most experienced QB on the roster, “continued to improve in spring ball and got better,” Petrino said.
McCain is a dual-threat QB who could fit nicely into Petrino's read-option offense. But the new coach said running the read-option was one of Chalich's strengths in the spring — the QB had 102 yards rushing in the spring game and bounced back from numerous big hits — while McCain didn't operate the read-option at DeAnza College, Petrino said. He “just ran around and made plays.”