The Vandals practiced outside Monday morning in the smoke-clogged air, then worked for about two hours at the Kibbie Dome. After the first two-practice day of fall camp, Idaho coach Paul Petrino was happy with how his team went about its work. "I thought we had great fire in the second practice," he said. "You always do in the first one. Thought they came out in the second practice and worked really hard, and I was really happy."
Petrino was also pleased with his quarterbacks' performance. Read on.
Matt Linehan and Chad Chalich were unsteady through the first week. But Monday's two-a-day, Petrino said, "was by far the best day our quarterbacks had yet in fall camp with both practices."
In Saturday's scrimmage, Linehan went 20 of 39 for 276 yards and five TDs while Chalich completed 8 of 16 passes for only 93 yards. Those numbers suggest that coaches gave Linehan many more opportunities to throw, but Petrino said each QB had 40 pass plays called while they were under center. "Chad took off and ran on 24 of his. So he’s got to do more standing in there and throwing the ball," Petrino said.
One of Chalich's runs resulted in a 9-yard TD scamper, but he was credited with just 2 rushing yards after several sacks and tackles for loss.
"We’ve just got to keep working on him on standing in there and throwing the ball when he has time," Petrino said. "His natural reaction is to take off and run, so we’ve just to got to keep working on him."
Fifth-year senior center Mike Marboe said one of the reasons the offensive line is playing better together is that the group simply has more experience -- both in Petrino's system and playing together.
"I think everyone just gets the system a little better, and we’re starting to understand protections and run game," said Marboe, who's on the Rimington Trophy watch list after starting 36 straight games the last three seasons. "We’re just playing better together. Experience is the best tool you have. And the more reps we get together, the better we play together and it’s showing."
Marboe said his individual gains come from being "a lot more comfortable in the second year of the offense." That's resulted in more confidence on each play call. He also said he's faster and stronger than he's ever been after summer conditioning.
In May, Marboe went to Kansas City to spend a week with 12-time Pro Bowl guard Will Shields, who retired in 2006 after playing his entire career with the Chiefs. Marboe said he sought out Shields during a break after the school year.
"It was a great opportunity for me," Marboe said.
Marboe has yet to miss a game in his career to injury, and Shields was known for his durability as well. He started 231 consecutive games (including eight playoff games) from 1993 to 2006.