MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho football coach Paul Petrino hasn’t ruled out Chad Chalich and Josh McCain for Saturday’s game at Mississippi. But with both quarterbacks ailing with shoulder injuries, it seems likely senior Taylor Davis will get his first start of the year.
Chalich, who has started all seven games for the 1-6 Vandals, went down in the second series against Arkansas State on Oct. 12 and didn’t return. The week prior, McCain left in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss to Fresno State.
Petrino said both QBs are “day-to-day” after resting through a bye week.
“If we played today, they wouldn’t be playing,” Petrino said Monday in his weekly news conference.
He later added that “it would be great to get at least one of them back as a backup.”
Davis, a senior who started four games the last two seasons, spent the first half of the season as the third quarterback. He got a similar number of reps during spring camp and most of fall camp before Chalich and McCain separated themselves.
But he was thrust into action two weeks ago after getting little practice time, and Petrino was pleased with his effort in rallying the Vandals from a 31-7 deficit at Arkansas State.
“Taylor came in and played real hard,” Petrino said. “(The) third quarter was probably as good a quarter as we’ve played, and (he) did a real good job of moving us. Had a nice drive going in the fourth quarter and we got the penalty. And I think he’ll just get better and better.”
If Davis gets hurt and Chalich and McCain are unable to go, Petrino said the Vandals will turn to true freshman Matt Linehan, who is redshirting this season. The coach said he’s spoken with Linehan about burning his redshirt.
Petrino noted that Linehan’s father, former Idaho QB Scott Linehan, stepped in for the injured Ken Hobart his freshman year at UI, which wiped away his redshirt.
“We would not like to have to do that, but we’ve got Matt a lot of reps, so he would be ready to go if that happens,” Petrino said.
Chalich, a former Coeur d’Alene High standout, leads the Vandals with 1,224 passing yards and is second in rushing with 204 yards.
Idaho is a 41-point underdog to Ole Miss (4-3), which upset LSU last week. This will be the third season in a row that Petrino, the former Arkansas offensive coordinator, encounters Rebels coach Hugh Freeze, who previously coached at Arkansas State.