MOSCOW, Idaho – Paul Petrino looked over his right shoulder and noticed that one of the stars of Idaho’s first fall scrimmage was listening. Right then, the first-year Vandals coach started speaking with more purpose to the reporters circled around him.
He appeared to have a message for Quinton Bradley, even if the redshirst sophomore defensive end wasn’t technically part of the conversation.
“Quinton’s going to be in good enough shape to play most of the time,” Petrino said, his voicing getting louder and firmer. “He’s going to be in great shape and play all the time. Definitely on third downs, he’s going to be our stopper.”
Bradley, an edge rusher who gained nearly 20 pounds in the offseason, had a monster day in the heat at the Vandals’ sun-splashed outdoor practice field Saturday afternoon. He sacked Idaho quarterbacks twice and registered two other tackles for loss.
His production came during an up-tempo scrimmage that lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes and was preceded by more than 20 minutes of position drills.
Bradley is comfortable with the marathon scrimmages and practices that have become standard during Petrino’s early days at UI. Or, maybe more accurately, he now understands how to prepare for them.
“The key for me is learning how to play at (Petrino’s) pace,” Bradley said. “It’s very new to everybody how long and hard we go. It’s a grind. Ain’t much I can say, because at halftime it was 100 plays; we had already played a (game’s worth of plays) and more.”
Bradley said he “had to get my mind right (and) focus more” after Petrino replaced Robb Akey in December. Even in early morning winter workouts, the new system was so demanding that he had to adjust to the new expectations.
The turning point came when he was reprimanded several times during winter conditioning. After that, “I bought into it. I wanted to be part of this team, and I knew if I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted to start, I had to work.”
It didn’t take long for Petrino to see Bradley’s potential on film. He approached the D-end about a month into his tenure with a more direct message than the one he gave through the media Saturday.
“I said, ‘If you’ll just trust us and work your butt off, you can play football for a long, long time,’ ” Petrino recalled. “So hopefully that’ll happen.”
Bradley appeared in 11 games in 2012 and started once. But he was a backup to Benson Mayowa, who’s in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, and he understood he had to get bigger to handle the heavier load.
The 6-foot-3 San Antonio native weighs 250 pounds now after playing at about 230 last season. His arms and upper body are noticeably bigger, and his confidence should be higher after Saturday’s performance.
Bradley was dominant enough that Petrino decided after the first five or six series to devote two blockers to him. The offense soon started clicking, with two TD drives from Chad Chalich and another quick one from Taylor Davis.
Chalich finished with four TDs (two passing, two rushing) and 218 yards of offense. His former Coeur d’Alene High teammate Deon Watson had five catches for 79 yards and two TDs, while Dezmon Epps (10 catches, 151 yards) was the most productive receiver.
Idaho was without starting offensive tackle Jesse Davis (concussion), while offensive guard Dallas Sandberg left the scrimmage early with an undisclosed injury. … Freshman tailback Richard Montgomery (10 carries, 93 yards) showed his speed on a 45-yard TD jaunt.
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