The Vandals concluded Day 4 of fall camp with a two-hour practice on a beautiful evening in Moscow. Not too hot, not too windy. Just right. I've got notes from the practice and after talking to coach Paul Petrino.
Idaho ran through practice with shoulder pads and shorts. The half-pad session will be followed up tomorrow with the first full-pad, full-contact practice of camp. Then we'll learn a lot on Saturday with the first scrimmage, set for 10 a.m.
Here are thoughts, notes, and quotes:
- Petrino confirmed freshman linebacker Tony Lashley, from Rockhurst High in Kansas City, didn't qualify academically and is not on campus. Last week, Petrino said the entire recruiting class was eligible and available to play -- which "doesn't happen very often," he said at the time. But tonight Petrino told me, "He’s the only one that didn’t end up qualifying, so hopefully we can get him back here in another route here soon."
- The starting five on the offensive line appears close to being settled. Senior Niklaus Von Rotz has gone with the ones at right guard all week, and Petrino said he's taking over a position that was the only one in real doubt coming into camp. "Von Rotz has been doing a good job. He’s kind of right now taking it over. He’s actually, his first four days of practice have been way better than he was in spring, so that’s good to see."
- At different moments in the last half of practice, Petrino went on short tirades directed toward center Mike Marboe and the offensive line in general. He even very briefly glared at O-line coach Jon Carvin. When asked if there's something in particular the line needs to work on, he smirked and said, "I just get after them. I always get after the line; they need it. Just get after them every day. Never let them be comfortable. Just make them keep improving. There’ll won’t be a day you won’t hear me get after them."
- Redshirt freshman Russell Siavii, the brother of former UI linebacker Rob Siavii, has moved from linebacker to safety. His new position fits his 6-foot-2, 185-frame better than linebacker. "That’s something he’s just got to keep working hard at," Petrino said. Meanwhile, Bradley Njoku partcipated with the second team, while D'Mario Carter and Jordan Grabski saw time with the first team. Trey Williams appears to still be hurt, as Petrino indicated on Monday.
- Freshman Desmond Banks played at corner in the action I saw but is listed at safety. Petrino said he can play both posiitons. "I think when it’s all said and done, he’s going to be a great player. He just has to keep getting better to see if he’s going to play this year."
- Freshmae who have made the biggest impact so far that I've seen: super speedy tailback Richard Montgomery and receiver Rueben Mwehla, another burner.
- Petrino said starting spots in the secondary are still open, especially compared to the front seven, which is mostly settled. At corner, three players seem to have risen to the top: Solomon Dixon, Jayshawn Jordan and Delency Parham. Dixon and Jordan are both sophomores, while Petrino brought in Parham from Santa Barbara Community College. "The secondary is still a battle," he said. "A lot of guys still battling. A lot of the guys in the front seven are kind of taking over their positions, but we’re all still competing everyday. But the secondary is still a battle, still up for grabs."
- Speaking of the front seven, the Vandals have Maxx Forde and Quinton Bradley at defensive end. And tonight, JC transfer Anthony Rice saw a lot of time with twos as a stand-up edge rusher. "Right now he’s kind of the backup to Quinton Bradley," Petrino said. Just keep him fresh and just continue to keep working him there. … He’s got a pretty big body, but he’s got good quickness and he can set the edge pretty well."
- Of the three quarterbacks vying for a starting gig, Josh McCain had the best assortment of throws in the latter part of practice, hitting Dezmon Epps for a long pass play in 11-on-11 drills and finding Michael LaGrone for a TD in 7-on-7 action. Petrino said McCain is not running the same number of plays as returners Taylor Davis and Chad Chalich, both of whom had the benefit of spring practice. "He’s picking (the system) up pretty good. Now, obviously, we probably don’t do as much with him yet. There’s just a few little things that he does well, and we keep doing those over and over. Each day he learns a little bit more. But you know, it’s a good battle. Three guys that are all working hard and are all getting better. So we just got to keep getting better and see what happens."
- Austin Rehkow and walk-on Ryan Bordner alternated progressively deeper field-goal attempts at the end of practice. Both freshmen missed just a handful of kicks, and while Rehkow displayed a stronger leg, Bordner might have been a touch more consistent. Rehkow is the Spokane native who nailed a 67-yarder for Central Valley last fall.
- Petrino said the team's effort as a whole has been good all week. But Wednesday afternoon Petrino said he was upset over some lachadaiscal play and made the team run "quite a bit."
You can stay up-to-date on Idaho news via my Twitter feed at @SR_JoshWright.