Idaho quarterbacks Chad Chalich and Josh McCain were observers at practice on Wednesday, both out with shoulder injuries and watching from the sideline in shorts and their jerseys. In their absence, Taylor Davis took the first-team reps, with true freshman Matt Linehan behind him. And if those two healthy QBs were to go down, the Vandals would apparently be out of options for a full-time QB who could run the offense. Coach Paul Petrino said UI doesn't have a third-string QB on its depth chart as it prepares to play at Mississippi on Saturday (4:30 p.m. PDT, ESPN3).
We have more Idaho practice notes after the jump, and short Q&As with Petrino and defensive coordinator Ronnie Lee.
The Vandals ended practice at least 20 minutes earlier than typical early season practices. Petrino said that's standard practice during the second half of the season. ... Neither McCain nor Chalich had slings on during practice. As McCain walked quickly off the field after practice, he was careful to keep his left shoulder in place. ... Defensive end Quinton Bradley and cornerback Solomon Dixon did not appear to be at practice. In Dixon's place, true freshman Desmond Banks got time with the first unit.
Did you like the energy in practice today?
"Yeah, it was pretty good. I thought we came out here and worked hard. You know, it’s past the midpoint of the season, so cut practice back a little bit, about 20 minutes. They should have higher energy and play harder. But it was thought it was good. I thought guys came out here and got better today."
Is it all about fresh bodies this time year?
"You always just freshen it up as things go on. It’s always something I’ve done; about one game past the midpoint of the season, you usually cut it back four periods in practice, which is what we’ve always done."
Do you have a third quarterback right now?
"Nope. You. Bring your pads."
Could (Austin) DeCoud take snaps?
Nope, he sure wouldn’t.
What do you tell young players to get ready for Mississippi?
"It’s a great atmosphere. They all love football and will be excited about it. I just want to see our guys go out there and play as hard as they can, and play with courage and do what they’re coached to do, and do a great job."
You've played a lot of teams this year that are coming off byes. What are the benefits and challenges with byes?
"It helped Taylor (Davis) get more reps, so that was huge. We’ll take a bye any time we want, just because we need all the extra practice in the world — both for this year and for next year. So it’s a little extra spring ball.
"But a lot of times what a bye does is it freshens guys up, guys that are injured, and it allows you spend two weeks on one opponent, which is always good."
Did you watch a lot of film as well?
"Well, the first week you look a lot at yourself. You self-scout yourself to see the things you’re doing good, things you’re doing bad. Normally, you would just focus on that team for two weeks, but we really probably took the first week and concentrated on getting better ourselves and then scrimmaged the young guys every day."
As you prep for Ole Miss, what's the message for the defense?
"It’s another opportunity. It’s another challenge. And it’s another challenge and opportunity we’ve got to go after and meet."
Can you build off the good things that happened against Arkansas State in the third quarter and second half?
"We’ve got to make those things happen in the first quarter, in the first drive and not sit back and wait for things to happen. We’ve got to get 11 guys out there doing their job, and when the opportunity comes, make a play, create a turnover, make a great tackle."
How do you think the young guys are stepping up?
"Our motto is next man up. And I expect the next guy to play just as well or better than the guy he’s replacing. And that’s the attitude … we’ve got to have."
What have you seen from Desmond Banks?
"This is a great opportunity for Desmond to grow and fulfill his dream of playing Division I football. And the opportunity is there and he’s making the most of it."