Paul Petrino's second spring football at Idaho will look similar to his first a year ago. But there will be key differences. The quarterbacks will be off-limits after getting whacked last year. The coaches might try to install the playbook quicker now that many of the players are in the second year of the system. And for at least the first little bit, the Vandals will have Robert Asencio, a 6-foot-9 basketball player who's never played football, trying out with them at wide receiver. "You don’t see too many 6-9 guys walking around who can run and catch," Petrino said, "so I’m excited to get him out there and see what we can do."
Our spring preview story can be found here, and we've posted more from Petrino heading into the first day of practice (4 p.m. at the SprinTurf field weather permitting). Read on.
Here are select quotes from Petrino about different positions and players:
On Chalich and Linehan: "They’ve got little bit different skillsets, but I think they’re both tough winners and look forward to seeing both compete and see who the best guy is."
On Chalich's health: "He’s healthy. He’s been throwing. What he told me is (his arm) does get tired at times, so we will have to watch how many throws he gets in practice. Which is another reason that at times we might limit him a little bit, just to make sure we just don’t overwork it."
On Josh McCain: "He’ll take some snaps (at quarterback), but we’re trying to really make him a receiver. He’ll always have a package, similar to what he came in and ran last year."
On O-line: "If you look at the offensive line, there’s competition at every single spot right now between the two people who are fighting for (starting spots). That’s with Jesse Davis, he’ll be limited this spring and Cody (Elenz) will be a little bit limited. Even with those out, we still have guys that are going to battle and compete at each position. That’s how you become great."
On competition: "We have it at linebacker. Definitely have it up front defensively. Have it at safety. One of our two new corners aren’t here yet. But the young guys really got better in the offseason and in weight room. Their 40 times got way better. They got stronger. So I think our competition will be a lot better in the secondary. Really across the board — at receiver, at running back and tight end. ... We just have more competition now. Now, what the strengths and the weaknesses (are), I think let’s go 15 days of practice and then decide that.
On establishing leaders: "It doesn’t need to be seniors, but I think we have more leaders now. No question after a year. And really it just helps that the whole team knows what to expect. They know how we’re going to practice. They know how we’re going to work. Everyone that’s here by now has been through two offseason workouts … They know how we’re going to grind and how we’re going to work. ... They’ve bought in by now. So the leadership within is way better, even in our morning conditioning. You can just tell that it’s so much better."
On "your guys" being more comfortable: "I never really liked that. And unfortunately, everybody uses it, including some of the players used it last year: ‘Your guys. Their guys. Whoever’s guys.’ But people say it. We just had a team meeting two days ago and I said, ‘We’re all together. We’re all in this thing together. There’s no other people’s guys (or) my guys. We’re all in this thing together. We all know how we do things. We all know how we go about it. We’ve all got to come together. And the more we really can build relationships — amongst each other, amongst players, offense and defense have to come together and coaching staff and players have to come together. And the stronger we build those relationships, the better chance you have of winning games in the fourth quarter. The better chance you all fight for each other when it really comes down to it."
On Alfonso Hampton and JC players: "I think any junior college guy we sign, you’re signing him in to come in and compete to be a starter. I think he should be able to do that."
On defensive end Quinton Bradley's health: "Good. I told him the other day, ‘If you’re not a beast, the only one that’s going to stop you is yourself.’ He’s gotten so strong. His numbers in the weight room. The weight he’s carrying right now. His ability to run the same — he really should be an unstoppable force next year. We’ve just got to make sure he’s tough enough to play with little owies. If he can do that, then then he’s going to be a beast."
On guys who've improved: "Ryan Edwards is the strongest guy on our team. Ryan’s made big strides. Tueni (Luepamanu). Those two defensive tackles are guys that got way stronger. They improved. New JC guys. Irving Steele, Daniel Peterson are two guys at linebacker that I’d like to see. Tony Lashley is another linebacker that’s a grayshirt. ... Guys from the Sunday night scrimmages. Will Schmidt and Zach Cable are two guys that I don’t know if they’ll start, but they can give us great minutes and when Quinton needs a break, they can come him and give him a little rest and play real hard. Those were two guys who were always active and tough guys who made a lot of plays for us on those Sunday night scrimmage."
On safety Jordan Grabski: "That’s a young freshman that’s really improved.
On Jacob Sannon: "As strong a freshman receiver as I’ve been around is Jacob Sannon. … Jacob’s a 4.0 student. Anything he does he tries to be a the very best he can be. He did struggle and had a couple drops last year, but he’s worked so hard. Jacob’s a guy I could see finding himself in a starting role."
On tight end Justin Podrabsky: " At the end of the year we really started using him more because of his Sunday night scrimmages. He’s a guy Linehan loves to throw the ball to on those Sunday nights. I could see him really making plays for us this year."
On Richard Montgomery: "One thing Richard really has to do that we talked to him about is get stronger so he can run through some of those arm tackles. One thing we did for each kid was, OK, these were 16 best plays that you really looked like a stud and did great plays. If you watch those 16 plays, he’s pretty special. Maybe these are your 16 plays where you’ve got to get a lot better. Kind of your positive takes and your negative takes. On his negative takes, he went down too easily on a lot of tackles. So he needs to get stronger so he can run through. And I think he’s done a really good job of working hard in the weight room and improving on that. I do think his role has to expand as he grows to play some more receiver. He’s really quick; people have a hard time getting their hands on him. So I think you’ll see him … there will be personnel groups where it’s actually two running backs in the game but you’ll see him lining up in different spots on the field."