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Saturday, April 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Idaho football: First fall practice observations

Idaho coach Paul Petrino actually liked that there was a little bit of a scuffle during Wednesday night's practice. What he liked even more was that it didn't cost his team any practice time. Senior defensive end Quinton Bradley laughed off his incident with Darius Peterson and went back to the defensive huddle so the next rep could be taken. 

The Vandals practiced for the first time of the fall on Wednesday evening at the SprinTurf. Paul Petrino sprinted out of the Kibbie Dome doors and bolted straight toward where his quarterbacks had gathered before the start of practice.

When practice had started, the quarterbacks started to shine. Matt Linehan looked sharp in team drills, hitting Dezmon Epps twice on long touchdowns. Redshirt freshman competitor for the starting job, Jake Luton, also had his moments. He showed decisiveness at times, but there were times during practice he got bogged down in the pocket for would-be sacks and threw a couple of interceptions. 

Overall, Petrino liked what he saw before being able to watch it on film. 

"I thought Matt had a really good team period, he hit his first seven passes in team. I thought Jake had a really good seven on seven skelly. (Freshman quarterback) Kareem (Coles) looked pretty fast in a few things he did too," Petrino said. 

Here are some other things to note: 

- Non-participants included LB Marc Millan, S Jordan Grabski and OL Jordan Rose. Millan is battling a hamstring injury he suffered at the end of the summer. Petrino was vague in describing it but when asked if it'd affect his status for the opener he said "I hope not." Grabski is battling an illness, while Rose is finishing some academically in the summer session before he can practice. Kaden Elliss played in Millan's absence, with Chris Edwards occupying the opposite OLB position. 

- Kendrick Trotter has moved to safety from corner while Armond Hawkins has joined the safety group from linebacker. Petrino said he thinks safety is Hawkins' best chance to get on the field right now. 

- JUCO transfer Darius Peterson got some looks with the first team offensive line, as did Kato Fawkes and Jeff Travillion. It seems like there is going a large rotation of players with the offensive line unit in order to give coaches enough film to evaluate them on and settle on a top five. Fawkes and Travillion were injured during the spring.

- Freshman running back Denzal Brantley does not look like a freshman. I anticipate him getting some carries during the two scrimmages.

- Matt Linehan said he was up to about 217 or 218 pounds. His goal is to get to 220.

- David Ungerer said he spent time in the offseason working on getting stronger in order to deal with press coverage. Ungerer is playing mainly as an outside receiver so that Dezmon Epps can get more favorable matchups as a slot receiver.

- I'll be keeping an eye on Kevin Shelton, and not just because his older brother is about to become a mainstay of the Cleveland Browns' defensive line.  The sophomore had some nice rushes off the edges and seems to be battling with Leonard Hazewood for a spot with the first-team defense. He spent most of the spring as a BUCK linebacker, rushing the passer in a standing position. But he spent most of his time on the line of scrimmage and has the versatility to be a down lineman as well as a BUCK linebacker. 

Here are some quotes:

Petrino on changing the culture of losing and his goal as coach at Idaho: "There’s no magical quick fix about it, you just come to work every day, grind every day and try to become a winner every day and it’ll start on that opening day ... No question, that’s our goal, we want to go to a bowl game. That’s why you play college football and that’s why you coach it. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a lot of them, it’s time for us to go to one together"

Linehan on his relationship with Petrino: "We’ve grown closer and closer. I’m starting to understand more of what he wants from me and the offense. It’s important that we maintain that relationship. He’s been great, in the spring we really blossomed, we got a lot better. He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. He’s going to get on it but that’s just how he is, that’s his coaching style and I’ve gotten used to it and I think it works, I think our relationship has gotten a lot better."

Quinton Bradley on his third year with Petrino: "When he first came it was hard for people to understand his philosophy. Now, everybody on this team is locked in and ready to go. It’s what we need to do to win a bowl game."

 



Sean Kramer
Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.





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