MOSCOW, Idaho – It’s been just one day of fall camp and eight months of preparation under a new regime with no wins or losses to show for it. But Idaho defensive end Maxx Forde noticed buy-in of Paul Petrino’s system started soon after the coach was hired in December.
And now? There’s no question in Forde’s mind – about the coaching staff or his teammates’ willingness to listen.
“I believe in the process,” the redshirt junior said Monday. “It’s worked at other places. So why not here?”
As the Vandals’ first day of fall camp Monday showed, there’s nothing flashy about Petrino’s process. The first-year Idaho coach, after stints as an offensive coordinator in the SEC and Big Ten, spends much of his time talking about being precise, technically sound, grinding everyday.
It’s all about repetition and execution, which is why the Vandals practiced 2 1/2 hours and why Petrino promised the team’s fall scrimmages will be long and fast-paced, just like scrimmages in the spring.
The goal, he said, is “to make the players believe we’re going to be what we call ‘grinders’ – guys that work hard everyday; get up and just go to work and improve every single day.”
The Vandals started their practice prep early Monday and were to finish the day with film study late into the evening. In between, they worked in individual, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 in shorts and jerseys at the outdoor practice field.
“It’s pretty much a full-time job for us,” quarterback Chad Chalich said. “It’s something that we pretty much get paid to do, but, you know, it’s our scholarship and we’re going to come out here and keep getting better everyday. And we’re going to win some games this year.”
The warm, mostly sunny session was capped by the offense gathering around Spokane freshman place-kicker Austin Rehkow, who showed a big (and inconsistent) leg during field-goal practice. Once most of the team was released, the newcomers ran through more plays under Petrino’s direction.
And after the field had cleared, true freshman quarterback Matt Linehan and offensive lineman Nick Edenfield worked again and again on their QB-to-center exchange.
“It’s all business out here,” junior center Mike Marboe said. “Coach has made that real clear to us. That’s our mindset and that’s how we have to approach practice every day. That’s what we did. We prepared all morning for this practice.”
Among the highlights were down-the-field catches from Roman Runner, Maurice Trotter and walk-on Max McIntosh. Meanwhile, JC receiver Dezmon Epps and true freshman running back Richard Montgomery were two of the newcomers who flashed blazing speed.
JC QB Josh McCain, who went with the second offense, also showed shiftiness in the open field.
“It was exciting to see some of the new guys,” Petrino said. “You look around the field and there’s a whole bunch more speed here. But the execution’s got to improve a lot.”
Even for the first day, the coach was irked by assignments errors that he called unacceptable. After the team had spent the spring and summer together, he refused to give them a pass.