MOSCOW, Idaho – Really, it’s just a dressed-up scrimmage four-plus months before the season. Yet Idaho is treating tonight’s spring football finale like a “real” game, with 15-minute quarters, clock stoppage and all.
First-year coach Paul Petrino said he hopes to run 200 plays – or “as many plays as we can” – when the Vandals congregate at 6 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome. That’s only slightly more than the team chugged through in its second of three scrimmages two weeks ago.
Petrino has introduced the Vandals to an intricate playbook in daily installments. He’s pleased with how the players have digested it, but he said the summer months will also be crucial.
“Not just knowing the play, but knowing every little detail why the play works – that’s really what separates you from being good to great,” said Petrino, who was hired in December after working as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Arkansas.
Fans who show up or tune in to SWX in Spokane will see a team that’s incrementally improved, Petrino said. Newcomers Kris Olugbode and Jerrel Brown have provided a lift at running back. Linebacker Marc Millan and defensive end Quinton Bradley have caught eyes with their quickness and Petrino said receiver Maurice Trotter has been the biggest surprise of the spring.
But Idaho will likely look much different when it opens the season Aug. 30 at North Texas, particularly at the skill positions.
Incoming junior-college quarterback Josh McCain will get a long look for the starting role after neither Chad Chalich nor Taylor Davis grabbed the No. 1 spot in spring. The Vandals will run variations of the option, and Petrino said McCain is “probably” a more natural runner than Chalich or Davis.
The coach also expects cornerback Delency Parham, safety Desmond Banks and other new arrivals in the secondary to fill key holes.