MOSCOW, Idaho – Paul Petrino’s first practice at Idaho was just how he envisioned: players zipping through drills, a herd of quarterbacks flinging nonstop passes, his assistants running to get in the face of anyone who dared slow down.
The Vandals spent two-plus hours Friday afternoon in an all-out sprint, and Petrino could scarcely have been happier about his team’s start to spring football.
OK, the rookie head coach can always be happier.
“For the first day, I was very pleased,” Petrino said. “I thought guys were flying around, getting better. I was happy about it. It’s never as good or as bad when you go watch it on tape, but I felt pretty good about it today.”
Petrino set the tone in his introductory press conference in December, when he stressed that the Vandals – both players and coaches – were going to do everything with a sense of urgency.
That mentality carried through winter conditioning, and it was evident on Day One of spring football at the Vandals’ outdoor practice field adjacent to the Kibbie Dome.
“It’s awesome,” quarterback Taylor Davis said. “It’s what this team needed. We come out; there’s no stopping. It’s working every minute of practice.”
Davis and fellow QB Chad Chalich, a former Coeur d’Alene High star, said the team is fully on board with Petrino’s up-tempo, detail-oriented approach to drills, workouts, practice and everything else.
Chalich can even notice a difference from last year when he sees teammates on campus.
“There’s a change in intensity and the way players walk around the school because they’re proud to be a Vandal,” said Chalich, a redshirt freshman. “That’s a great thing because you have to be proud where you’re going to school.”
For Friday, the offensive staff scripted 42 plays for a 20-minute skeleton session, when the quarterbacks and receivers matched up against linebackers and defensive backs. The Vandals ended up getting through 60 to 62 plays by Petrino’s estimation – a blazing pace.
“We’re going to always get a bunch of reps,” he said. “We’re going to coach on the run. We’re going to coach with intensity, coach fast.”
Dressed in a pullover and black Idaho workout shorts, Petrino spent much of the chilly afternoon just feet away from his four QBs so he could offer instant feedback. He praised Chalich, Davis and redshirt freshman Austin DeCoud after a few on-the-money passes, and he was irate after a few errant throws and missed reads.
Junior college transfer Anthony Neyer was also in the quarterback rotation and struggled the most.
The Vandals’ next practice is Tuesday. They’ll hold their first scrimmage on March 30.