Petrino: Chalich is starter, but McCain will play

With Idaho's offense sputtering through the first two weeks of the season, coach Paul Petrino said he'll continue to platoon redshirt freshman Chad Chalich and junior Josh McCain at quarterback. But he also made clear who's atop the depth chart. "Chad’s the starter. Josh is just going to come in and play," Petrino said.

Petrino said McCain, a junior-college transfer, gave the Vandals a nice spark with his legs in a 42-10 loss at Wyoming. Chalich, meanwhile, "played really well" in the fourth quarter, the first-year coach said. The Coeur d'Alene native has completed 41 of 59 passes (69.5 percent) this season, but Petrino reinforced that he and McCain have taken too many sacks and "both made silly mistakes."

We have more notes from Petrino's Monday teleconference with reporters after the link.


The Vandals (0-2) host Northern Illinois (1-0) Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Kibbie Dome. While Idaho is ranked No. 123 after last week in USA Today's FBS rankings, NIU sits at No. 26. The Huskies won at Iowa to open the season and last year made it to Orange Bowl, where they lost to Florida State.

Petrino said NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch, who last season passed for over 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,815 yards, reminds him of Tim Tebow. "I think Lynch, he’s just big and strong and plays with passion and emotion," Petrino said. "As much as anything, he has a will to win."

The Vandals can't let Lynch grind the game out on the ground, Petrino said. "We've got to make sure we stop the run."

Other notes:

  • Petrino said the first and fourth quarters were positives against Wyoming. "If we came out and executed some of our third downs in the first quarter, it would have given us a chance to get the lead."
  • The punt team "improved greatly" from Week 1, Petrino said. "Austin (Rehkow) did a great job punting the ball." He said the punt return team "hurt us in the first half" and "still needs to make big strides," while the kickoff team was so-so.
  • Asked to assess the offensive line's performance at Wyoming, Petrino replied: "Not good enough." The Vandals gave up seven sacks, and Petrino was irked by the team's inability to convert manageable third downs with designed runs. On a positive note, though, he said the O-line continued to battle through the fourth quarter.
  • Petrino said both the O-line and QBs are to blame for the 12 sacks allowed through two games -- which is the most in the FBS. The Vandals are tied with Iowa State for the most sacks allowed on a per-game basis (6.0). "A little bit of everybody’s fault is the answer," Petrino said.
  • Negatives from Saturday, per Petrino: the team's play in the second and third quarters; turnovers; and not converting drives into points. "Right now where we're at, we have to be perferct to get a win."
  • On receiver Dezmon Epps, who leads UI with 13 catches through two weeks: "He’s just a very talented kid. … We need to get the ball in his hands more. He’s quick, competitive. ... (He's) definitely been a bright spot."
  • Petrino also praised linebacker Marc Millan, but he said the JC transfer can make even bigger hits and try to force turnovers by using his instincts more. "But (I've) definitely been happy with Marc. He's played well."
  • The Idaho-Washington State game on Sept. 21 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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