Two days after his team absorbed the worst home loss in Idaho history, Vandals coach Paul Petrino reiterated his main postgame message on Saturday: “Just too many mistakes.”
But Petrino also made it clear that the Vandals have moved on from a 61-14 defeat to No. 23 Fresno State at the Kibbie Dome. He pointed to the team’s spirited scrimmage for underclassmen on Sunday night. “You walk off the field real excited about the future,” he said.
We’ve got more from Petrino, a note on Austin Rekhow and updates on the health of Josh McCain and Quinton Bradley.
— True freshmen Austin Rehkow, the Vandals’ full-time kicker and punter, was named Ray Guy Award Player of the Week after averaging 51.1 yards per punt on Saturday, per the Twitter account of Idaho SID Becky Paull. He punted seven times for the Vandals, who didn’t score until the fourth quarter. His longest was 58 yards.
— Petrino said backup QB Josh McCain (shoulder) is unlikely to play Saturday at Arkansas State. McCain relieved Chalich late in the third quarter and sparked the Vandals’ offense before leaving the field while holding his shoulder. Petrino said Saturday that the injury didn’t look “real good.”
— Defensive end Quinton Bradley, who has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury, could play Saturday, Petrino said. “Every night I’m saying my prayers that he will be (ready). He seems to be getting better every single day.”
— Petrino said one of the keys for Idaho against Arkansas State (2-3) will be to pressure QB Adam Kennedy, a transfer from Utah State — something Bradley could help with if healthy. The Vandals didn’t touch Fresno State’s Derek Carr once, Petrino noted. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs sacked Chad Chalich six times and had 13 tackles for loss. Petrino said the Red Wolves are running more read zone plays under first-year coach Bryan Harsin, the former Boise State and Texas assistant.
— The Vandals have played nine true freshmen this year, and Petrino said it’s largely been out of necessity because of injuries and depth — though he has been encouraged by their play. “There’s no one else to play.” QB Matt Linehan and receiver Rueben Mwehla are the only true freshmen he has made a point to not play. Petrino said he doesn’t want Linehan and Chalich, a redshirt freshman, in the same class. Meanwhile, he’s been pleasantly surprised by receivers Trent Cowan and Jacob Sannon and offensive guard Steven Matlock — who wasn’t with the team to start fall camp. Petrino is particularly excited about the future of the defensive line with defensive ends Zach Cable and Will Schmidt and defensive tackle Tueni Luepamanu. Schmidt is the only one of that group who hasn’t played yet, but all have good energy and fly around, he said. “That’s going to be a dominant defensive line in three of four years. That will be exciting some day when they’re all shaving and a little bit bigger and stronger.”
— In Paul Myerberg’s FBS rankings for USA Today, the Vandals are 117th out of 125 FBS teams. They’ve played three of Myerberg’s top 50 teams — Fresno State (No. 18), Northern Illinios (No. 21) and Washington State (No. 48). Future opponents Florida State (No. 6) and Ole Miss (No. 35) are also highly ranked.