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Chalich, Linehan to share QB duties in opener

Call it resolution or call it compromise, but the big question dogging the Idaho Vandals into the first week of the college football season -- who's the quarterback? -- has been answered.

It's both of them.

More on the Vandals below.  


As they have through spring and fall camps, Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan will share duties behind center when the Vandals open 2014 with a Saturday date at Florida.

Coach Paul Petrino's announcement on Tuesday had an air of inevitability about it, as he'd said even before fall drills began that he was "comfortable" with the idea of playing two quarterbacks.

"It'll be a great experience for both of them," Petrino said, "to get out in a hostile environment, playing against a great team."

Chalich, a sophomore from Coeur d'Alene, has had a taste of that, starting seven games as a redshirt freshman before having his season ended with a shoulder injury. But the venues -- North Texas, Wyoming, Washington State -- don't approach the loud and steamy atmosphere of "The Swamp," renowned Florida Field, which often fills beyond its listed capacity of 88,548.

And Linehan, the son of former Idaho quarterback Scott Linehan, is just a redshirt freshman himself.

Neither has been able to create separation during their competition in the spring and fall, sometimes experiencing their ups and downs in unison. In two August scrimmages, Chalich completed 23 of 38 passes with three interceptions, while Linehan has 39 of 72 with four picks.

Petrino isn't worried about having to manage young psyches with his shuttle.

"They're both great kids and they've been doing this all spring and fall camp," he said. "They know ahead of time they're not going to get yanked because they did something bad.

"Some of (when they play) will be what plays we're calling and what they do best. But we just want them to go in there and let it fly and be the best they can be. They don't need to be worried that if they make a mistake we'll put the other guy in."

On other fronts:

--- Petrino said a handful of true freshmen are likely to see significant action -- Jordan Rose (the 315-pound giant from Freeman High School) at guard, Aaron Duckworth at running back, David Ungerer at receiver and defensive back Dorian Clark on special teams among them.  Ungerer, a Pullman High School grad and the son of a former Washington State assistant, "is a real good route runner with dependable hands," Petrino said. "He's real quick and catches anything that's around him."

--- Petrino is high on another true freshman. "(Quarterback) Jake Luton is going to be a really good player down the road," the coach said, "but hopefully he doesn't have to play."

--- Alfonso Hampton, late to arrive at Idaho after finishing up junior college requirements, is expected to make a big impact on the defensive line, but it will come incrementally. Petrino estimated the 6-foot-5, 345-pounder would get 22 snaps on Saturday "and more as the year goes on."



John Blanchette
John Blanchette is a freelance columnist who writes about local sports issues.

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