The first few minutes of Paul Petrino's debut as head coach and Chad Chalich's debut as a collegiate quarterback couldn't have gone better. Idaho marched down the field for a quick touchdown at North Texas, then recovered an onsides kick to get the ball back.
After that, almost nothing went right.
North Texas steamrolled to a 40-6 season-opening win over the Vandals at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas. Idaho lost its third straight season opener, and it had itself to blame for many of the things that went wrong.
The Vandals had 11 penalties and lost three fumbles. True freshman place-kicker Austin Rehkow missed the extra point on the game's first score and also missed a 40-yarder later Saturday night. And the Vandals' punt team gave up two long returns and couldn't convert a fake punt attempt in the first half.
The Vandals had young players all over the field in Petrino's first game since taking over for Robb Akey. Chad Chalich, a redshirt freshman, started at quarterback and played solidly. He was 19-of-27 passing for 230 yards and one touchdown. While he didn't throw an interception, his option pitch to James Baker in the second quarter resulted in a lost fumble. And after the Vandals forced a turnover on downs, Chalich fumbled on a keeper up the middle. North Texas recovered that fumble too.
In addition to Rehkow, Idaho started true freshman safety Jordan Grabski and true freshman running back Richard Montgomery. Montgomery had a quiet first game, running for 9 yards on six carries. Jerrel Brown, a junior-college transfer, led the Vandals' running attack with 70 yards on six carries.
North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson took advantage of the Vandals' young secondary, passing for 349 yards and two TDs. He was 23-of-27, while his backup, Dajon Williams, was 5-of-6.
The Vandals were outgained 591-390. They play next week at Wyoming.