Idaho didn't run (quite) as many plays, and the offense didn't have quite as many touchdowns. But coach Paul Petrino was pleased after the Vandals' third scrimmage of the spring in the Kibbie Dome. We have video of Petrino's full comments to the media after the jump. We also have an early version of our story and notes on the Vandals' occasionally dominant defensive line.
UI, by the way, ran 143 plays after going through 190 in the first scrimmage and 173 last week. Idaho also had 11 penalties, at least of which one or two were waived off.
By Josh Wright
MOSCOW, Idaho – One of the truths of spring football is that what happens in April doesn't always carry over to the fall. For Idaho, team scrimmages will give way to the season opener at Florida, and players who stood out in spring drills might not even make the trip to The Swamp.
Some trends that surface, though, are sustainable. And Idaho coaches hope the depth and strength they saw from the defensive line on Saturday is one of them.
The defense headlined the Vandals' third spring scrimmage at the Kibbie Dome, especially early when the defensive line pressured quarterbacks Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan and the secondary made a string of jarring hits and interceptions.
Quinton Bradley came up with three sacks and Maxx Forde had two pass deflections. The two defensive ends were freed up by an occasionally dominant group in the middle -- sophomore Tueni Luepamanu, senior QuayShawne Buckley and junior Ryan Edwards.
Altogether, the D-line controlled the line of scrimmage for the first portion of the two-hour, 143-play game-like session, like they have for glimpses throughout spring.
"That should be one of the strengths of our team, really," Petrino said after Monday's practice.
If the line plays well, a natural byproduct should be a stronger secondary. Defensive backs Jayshawn Jordan, Desmond Banks and Bradley Njoku made nice plays Saturday, but the secondary struggled last year during a 1-11 season in which Idaho gave up an FBS-worst 46.8 points per game.
"It makes it a lot easier in the back end when you’ve got those guys like Tueni and Bradley and QuayShawne putting pressure on the quarterback," defensive coordinator Ronnie Lee said.
After Idaho's offense made most of the show-stopping plays in the first two scrimmages, Lee started Saturday's session by calling different blitz packages, one after another. He wanted the defense to set the tone this time, and they did.
Over the course of nine plays in two series, Bradley burned past an offensive tackle for a sack and joined Buckley to toss running back Jerrel Brown to the ground. Then Edwards and Forde stuffed tailback Kris Olugbode on consecutive plays.
"I mean, we made the offense feel like they couldn’t do nothing," Bradley said.
"Overall I was happy with it because we needed a scrimmage where the defense came out (and played well)," Petrino said. "Early when they were blitzing all the time, they got after the offense."
Although Bradley and Forde are known commodities on the edge, the Vandals could be more of a force on the inside of the D-line.
Luepamanu played in 11 of 12 games in the interior as a true freshman. Buckley, who had one more year of eligibility than Idaho initially thought, registered team highs in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (seven). He and Edwards played in all 12 games.
They should be joined by 346-pound Alfonso Hampton, a junior college signee whom Petrino expects to qualify academically, and injured linemen Glen Antoine and Max Martial.
"Maxx Forde and Bradley have the opportunity to get a lot of one-on-one matchups," Lee said. "QuayShawne and Ryan Edwards usually have the dirty work of getting the double teams and beating those blocks."
The Vandals had 23 sacks in 2013, an improvement over their 14 in 2012. But Bradley, an athletic junior, managed just three sacks in the parts of eight games he played through injuries.
NOTES – Idaho will conclude spring with the Silver and Gold game on Friday at 7:30 at the Dome. ... Petrino said his first impression was that neither Chalich nor Linehan separated from the other in the QB competition. Chalich, who said his recovering throwing shoulder was "a little sore," was 13 of 29 for 195 yards. Linehan was a bit sharper, going 27 of 43 for 364 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. … Steven Matlock, Mike Marboe and Mason Woods have emerged on the offensive line. "But I don't know if any have a spot for sure," he added. ... Russell Siavii is in contention for the starting strong safety job, Ronnie Lee said. Siavii played quite a bit with the 1s on Saturday. ... Injured players on Saturday included linebacker Daniel Peterson and defensive tackle Max Martial. Petrino said he expects receiver Rueben Mwehla, who injured his ankle in the offseason, to make a full recovery.