It wasn't incredibly eventful, but there is some news to report from Saturday's scrimmage at the University of Idaho, the first of the spring.
Probably most important of which are the nicknames for two prominent offensive players we learned today.
Read more after the jump.
If I had to pick the three stars of the scrimmage I'd pick Matt Linehan, Dezmon Epps and Jordan Grabski. Though a handful of players had very good days today. Running back Elijhaa Penny, WR Jacob Sannon, LB Kaden Ellis and DE Quinton Bradley among those.
So, here we go with notes.
- Matt Linehan led the quarterback pack with 270 yards and 4 touchdowns passing and running one in from four yards out on a read-option look on the goal line. Linehan had a knack for helping his receivers make defensive backs look silly on his touchdown passes. He first hit Rueben Mwehla in the corner of the end zone, who beat Russell Siavii on the play. He then hit Jacob Sannon in the right corner from 23 yards out, giving CB Dorian Clark a slight pump which helps Sannon blow by him for an easy pitch and catch. Linehan then pumped off the coverage when he hit Epps over the middle for 45 yards and the touchdown.
- Jake Luton struggled early but found a groove late. He hit Epps on a rolling out to his left and launching it down the sideline for 50 yards to set up first and goal. His touchdown came to Callen Hightower, serving it over the middle and over the defense for 38 yards.
- Gunnar Amos didn't do much in the pass game. He was asked to run the ball as much as he was asked to throw it. He threw 11 times and rushed 10 times.
- Elijhaa Penny had some impressive runs up the middle, making defenders miss along the way. His longest run was 19 yards. It looks like he will still be asked to pound up the middle and fatigue the defense. He had a good day averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
- Aaron Duckworth had a very productive day before leaving with an injury after a big hit from Kaden Elliss.
- The wide receiver picture is becoming clear. Petrino said Sannon is his No. 2 receiver, while David Ungerer should be his No. 3. Sannon had a good day with six receptions and a touchdown. Ungerer struggled early on, but also finished with six catches.
- Ungerer spoke to us afterwards about what he needs to do to improve. He said he's struggling fighting off press at the line of scrimmage, he feels he has the feet and speed to get open if he can work on those little things.
- The offensive line today was: ST Mason Woods, SG Jordan Rose, C Steven Matlock, QG Dallas Sandberg, QT Calvin White. The backup line was: ST Devin Wintz, SG Andrew Erbes, C Patrick Johnson, QG Andrew Phillips, QT Mason Woods.
- Jordan Grabski was the defensive MVP today. He snatched the first pick of the afternoon, muscling Michael Garner off of a crossing route thrown by Matt Linehan. Later in the scrimmage he tackled Penny one-on-one on the perimeter on the goal line to force fourth down.
- Dorian Clark was burnt for touchdowns twice, including the embarrassing whiff on Sannon. But he made up for it by beating Deon Watson for a jump ball, snatching an interception thrown by Amos. Clark is seeing a lot of first-team work.
- Quinton Bradley and Tueni Lupemanu quietly had very good days. Sacks were blown dead when quarterbacks were surrounded, so it was hard to tell who was actually doing what during backfield penetration. Lupemanu is used to playing the three technique, but it's a transition that Bradley seems to be making well. They made life difficult for all three quarterbacks, Luton particularly.
- Kaden Ellis filled in for the injured Chris Edwards by leading the team in tackles with 19.
- Austin Rehkow was true on all three of his field goal attempts, hitting from 39, 33 and 20 yards out.
Now for some quotes.
Matt Linehan on becoming more of a mobile QB: "I spent an entire offseason devoted to getting bigger and stronger and faster and once you do that those pieces start to fall together. You start to feel more comfortable out of the pocket on the run. Coach Petrino has always reiterated to me, you have to be a willing runner. You have to stay ahead of the chains, it it’s first down and nothing’s there you don’t have to force anything. That’s when you make mistakes. Kill your losses, it’s not a loss at all, get four yards on first down it’s second and 6, you stay ahead of the chains."
Linehan on Jacob Sannon: "That’s Optimus Prime. They got Megatron in Detroit, I call him Optimus Prime. He is unreal, he does everything right, he does everything you want in a receiver, he’s a hard worker. He’s as devoted a worker as I’ve seen in a long time. Jacob, that kid is so strong, people don’t know this. He probably has the most relative strength on the team."
Elijhaa Penny on how he felt with his new frame during the first week of live tackling: "I feel good, I don’t really feel too much like a different kind of running back but I can see losing the weight has helped me with explosiveness and running out of tackles. And in between the box, this week it felt good, we knocked the rust off. Week two, really trying to get after it."
Paul Petrino on coaching hard: "I think there was a bunch of really good things on both sides, by far the best since I’ve been here, but let’s expect more, is what I’m trying to get at. We’re not going compare ourselves to where we were in the past ever, we’re going to compare ourselves to where we need to be to beat everybody in our conference."
Marc Millan on the play of Elliss: "I’m excited, he finally stopped overthinking things like he does in practice and he finally let it loose. That’s what you get to do on defense is fly around, when you think too much that’s when you start making mistakes, but when you don’t think and just react it’s more fun."
Jordan Grabski on the secondary's main focus in spring: "Just no deep balls, we don’t any deep balls. Never want to be beaten deep. Keep everything in front of us."