The full pads didn't go on as planned Thursday night, but Idaho still had a lively practice under the lights on its Sprinturf field adjacent to the Kibbie Dome. We have a full report from Day 4 after the jump.
The Vandals practiced with shoulder pads and shorts the last two nights. But instead of Thursday being the first full-pad day, coach Paul Petrino opted to wait until Friday's 6 p.m. practice to roll out the full gear. Idaho's first scrimmage will take place Saturday at 10 a.m.
The second-year coach also confirmed that the Vandals' reduced practice time because of APR sanctions doesn't set in until the start of the season. UI opens at Florida on Aug. 30.
Who Stood Out?
Running Elijhaa Penny continues to make a strong impression, and Petrino reiterated that he "can't wait" to see the 248-pound running back in full pads. Asked if Penny reminded him of former Idaho running back James Baker, Petrino said yes. But he had a different tailback in mind: Michael Bush, the former star at Louisville, where Petrino coached with his brother. "Because he came make those come-to-balance cuts and change (direction), and he’s 248 pounds," Petrino said. "And hopefully he can play as good as Mike did, we’ll be in great shape. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but I think he has a chance to be. I really do." The coach said he thinks Penny can be an every-down running back.
The Vandals also appear to have a dynamic weapon in converted wide receiver Richard Montgomery. The sophomore from Jacksonville showed his versatility last year, catching passes (especially on wheel routes) and carrying the ball out of the backfield. But he approached Petrino about getting the ball more in his hands, and wide receiver was a natural fit. Late in Thursday's practice, Montgomery caught a short pass and blazed down the sideline after getting to the corner. He wowed his teammates on the sideline by putting on a few moves, and he nearly scored on the play. But his last juke was too fancy, he said, and he slipped to the ground. As he ran back to the huddle, Montgomery bemoaned the fact that "he tried to embarrass" a would-be tackler. It was one too many cuts.
Players who stood out late in 11-on-11 action:
- Offensive guard Jeff Travillion made a fantastic block on a long Montgomery run a few plays before Montgomery's fancy foot action after his catch.
- Safety Bradley Njoku came up to make a nice play to stop running back Jerrel Brown.
- Cornerback Jayshawn Jordan blanketed Josh McCain on a deep ball to the corner of the end zone.
- Matt Linehan threw a rope to Deon Watson for a touchdown over the middle, which prompted an animated celebration from the redshirt freshman QB (he ran down the field in celebration, and quickly came hustling back with Petrino yelling at him).
- Walk-on running back Doug Coman outsprinted the entire defense for a touchdown, drawing raves from his teammates. Brown and Linehan raced to the end zone to celebrate with him, and when they came back to the huddle, Brown looked at reporters and yelled, "That's Doug right there!"
Petrino said Idaho quarterbacks have progressed each day of camp. He wasn't particularly happy with either Linehan or Chad Chalich after the first day. Both QBs made some nice throws in the latter half of Thursday's session after Petrino challenged the team to stop making mental errors and turning the ball the over. Coaches are giving both QBs the same number of reps.
One area that Chalich needs to work on is surveying the field before deciding to run, Petrino said. He held on to the ball a few times after his first option was covered on Thursday. "He’s got to step up and throw the ball," Petrino more. "He can’t look to scramble every single play. He’s got to work on stepping up and checking on those backs and not always thinking run first. He’s got to go through his progression first. Then if one, two or three’s not there, then run. But let’s not just run after one’s not there."
Offensive coordinator and O-line coach Kris Cinkovich said he's been impressed with UI's offensive tackles in camp -- Mason Woods has locked down one starting spot, it appears, and Jesse Davis and Nik Von Rotz have played well at the other tackle position. Cinkovich also spoke highly of guard Steven Matlock and center Mike Marboe. He said the Vandals are still searching for a strong guard. Travillion, Kato Fawkes, Dallas Sandberg and Cody Elenz are candidates -- but "nobody yet has grasped and taken the job," Cinkovich said. "We’ll continue to evaluate it daily." As for Woods, Cinkovich said, "I think Mason Woods has really developed and continued to develop. I expect (him) to be a very good player."
Freshman receiver David Ungerer from Pullman High has had his left foot in a boot since the start of camp.