If Idaho's Silver and Gold game on Friday night (7:30, Kibbie Dome) goes as well as the first four weeks of spring practice, Paul Petrino will walk away a happy coach. Asked about where the Vandals are relative to his expectations for the spring, Petrino had this to say on Wednesday evening: "You know what? I think we’re ahead of them. I think we’ve had a better spring than I hoped to (have). I’m happy. We’ve done better than I thought we would at this point. And so, it’s been good. It’s been real good."
We have the full Q&A that Petrino had with a handful of reporters after a practice that he labeled as "really good." Read on.
At the end of practice, you wanted a little more energy from your guys?
"That was a good practice. I was really excited. I thought we played hard and had a really good practice. That last little section, when we change from drill to drill, they need to sprint to it. So that was really it."
You had three days off and then three days in a row.
"I really wanted to take some time to make sure we got the scrimmage watched and graded and everything evaluated from that instead of hurrying back and going on Monday. And then tomorrow is the last no-padded practice, so it’s not a whole lot. So it’s really not, in my mind, three days in a row. It’s kind of a hard day today and kind of a get ready tomorrow and then scrimmage on Friday."
How important is the spring game for the QBs?
"I think it’s real important. I think every time they step on the field it’s important. Every time that they do it, it’s a change for them to get better, a chance for them to step forward. We had another real long blitz period today. That’s something that’s real important for them. Had a big empty period today that was really good for them. There’s not a day they step on this field that’s not important for them. And then anytime you make it kind of game day atmosphere and they’re out there on their own, I think that’s always important. Just the more experience they get … they’re both young."
Do you think Chad Chalich's recovering shoulder has had an effect on his throwing?
"I don’t think so. I don’t think it has."
Will it be a full scrimmage?
"It will be a scrimmage. ... We’ll just come out, warm up and get after it."
"Oh, yeah. Except for quarterbacks. Quarterbacks won’t be live. But everything else will be full hitting. Yep, we’ll get after it."
Do you view the spring game as important for fans? Trying to get the fans involved and wanting them to come out?
"Yeah. It will be great. Any time (we get) more fans, the better because it gets the players excited and gets them to play good. The more noise and anything like that is good for all our players. So, yeah, I hope they all come out."
I know some programs are not having a spring game. Do you see it as important?
"I think it’s important. I think it’s important as young as we are and many guys we have just the more game-day atmosphere they can have, the more reps they can have, the better."
About where you hoped to be as far as your goals coming in?
"You know what? I think we’re ahead of them. I think we’ve had a better spring than I hoped to (have). I’m happy. We’ve done better than I thought we would at this point. And so, it’s been good. It’s been real good. Now we just need to finish it with a real, good crisp day tomorrow and a great night Friday night."
Where do you think you’ve improved the most?
"I think our offensive line has really improved. No question there. I think the defense as a whole has really improved. The whole group. And I think both quarterbacks have really improved. And so, that’s kind of how you win games — up front, quarterback play and defense. So all three of those groups have really improved, and that’s a good thing."
You feeling pretty good where this team is going to be heading into fall?
"Yeah. I think we’ve just got to … have a great summer. I think the year is kind of broken down into five phases. Spring ball is one of them, and the summer is the next one. We’ve still got two days to go, but I think we’ve had a great spring. And now we’ve got to go have a great summer. And then go into two-a-days (in the fall) and do a great job too."
I know it’s a game-like atmosphere on Friday night. Is that a big teaching tool to get them focusing on what they’re going to be doing in games come fall?
"Yeah. I think it is. You know, it’s not all scripted, where a lot of times in practice it’s all scripted and you chalk every single play and they shouldn’t really have mistakes then. But the game is more just called up … and hopefully we don’t have any mistakes. So, yeah. Any time they can go out and just play a whole bunch of football and have it not be scripted, that’s good for us because it gives us more reps of just improving."
This is Mike Marboe's fifth spring. What have you seen out of him? (Note: We'll have a story on Marboe for Friday's Spokesman-Review).
"He’s improved. I think he understands what we’re doing now better. He’s stepped up and become a better leader. And he’s just playing better. He’s playing a lot better right now than he did last year."
How much are you planning on getting Austin Rehkow kicking field goals on Friday?
"Not a lot. He’s probably just going to kick extra points. That’s probably it. He’s still rehabbing (a back injury). He’s not a 100 percent yet."