When Don Verlin accepted the Idaho men’s basketball coaching job in 2008, the Vandals had won 16 games the previous three seasons. He immediately infused life into the program – but until Saturday night, he had never gotten over the 20-win hump.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Their job was to stay at the bus station and wait. Paul and Bobby Petrino, with a $1.25 from their dad in their pockets, would park themselves at the pinball machines and keep an eye out for the right bus. They didn’t mind the work.
A conference home at last The Idaho Vandals were FBS vagabonds last season, playing a 12-game independent schedule that was heavy on money games (Florida State, Ole Miss, Washington State) and far-flung trips. This year, Idaho’s travel is still intense – but at least they have a conference home in the NCAA’s top division.
MOSCOW, Idaho – All week, Idaho head football coach Paul Petrino had seen progress. His dueling quarterbacks, Matt Linehan and Chad Chalich, were getting better. On Wednesday morning, in fact, they shared snaps during what Petrino said “might have been the best practice we’ve had since I’ve been here.” But then Saturday morning happened. Chalich and Linehan both threw two interceptions and posted similar numbers in the second scrimmage of fall camp to further cloud the starting quarterback race.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The transition from NFL veteran to college assistant coach wasn’t hard. Neither are the 18-hour days during fall camp. Ashley Ambrose loves football too much to consider any part of his job as Idaho cornerbacks coach a grind. There is one thing about coaching that eats at him, though. Just one thing he keeps coming back to.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Their first practice in full pads isn’t until Thursday. Still, the Idaho Vandals, especially a few rambunctious defensive players, spent much of Monday’s fall camp opener going as close to full tilt as possible for a shirts-and-shorts session. The 11-on-11 team scrimmages got physical at several points – a little too physical for Paul Petrino’s liking. But the second-year coach doesn’t mind the general trend.
MOSCOW, Idaho – It’s too bad, Idaho coach Paul Petrino told his wife the other day, Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan aren’t going toe-to-toe at wide receiver. That way, there would be room to have both on the field at the same time. “They’re just two kids that you love and that you want on the team,” Petrino said Sunday afternoon. “Just two of the best kids on the team in a battle, but you only can play one quarterback at a time.”
It’s too bad, Idaho coach Paul Petrino told his wife the other day, Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan aren’t going toe-to-toe at wide receiver. That way, there would be room to have both on the field at the same time.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Dezmon Epps, who was dismissed from the Idaho football team on Sunday for a violation of team rules, was charged with misdemeanor petty theft after allegedly stealing $37.72 in groceries from WinCo Foods. The former Idaho wide receiver pled not guilty on Monday in Latah County District Court and posted a $300 cash bond. He’s scheduled for a pretrial hearing on July 29. Epps was already on probation after pleading guilty and serving a one-day sentence for a driving under the influence in April.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Dezmon Epps was formulating his goals for the 2014 football season long before Idaho’s 2013 campaign was over. Back in October, he said he wanted to lead the Sun Belt Conference in receiving as a senior and be considered one of the best wideouts in the nation. But after his dismissal from Idaho on Sunday, Epps’ collegiate future – at least in the FBS – is hazy at best.
Dezmon Epps was formulating his goals for the 2014 football season long before Idaho’s 2013 campaign was over. Back in October, he said he wanted to lead the Sun Belt Conference in receiving as a senior and be considered one of the best wideouts in the nation.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Looking back at Idaho’s pro day in mid-March, James Baker thinks he could have run a faster 40-yard dash. Yet he also called his time of 4.55 seconds “perfect for me.” He said both of these things because he logged the respectable 4.55 while at 6-foot, 237 pounds – the build of a punishing running back in the NFL. Which is one of several labels that Baker hopes will stick if a team scoops him up this weekend during or after the NFL draft.
Idaho wide receiver Dezmon Epps, who had a breakout junior season in 2013, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence early Sunday morning in Pullman, according to the university’s student newspaper. The arrest occurred at 800 NE Ruby St., adjacent to Stubblefields Bar and Grill, at 1:23 a.m.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The common joke on Twitter Saturday morning, after Idaho announced that the NCAA had slapped its football program with a 2014 bowl ban, was the Vandals didn’t need to be ineligible to be out of the running for the postseason. Idaho is coming off consecutive 1-11 seasons and has dropped 39 games over the last four dark years. The Vandals have advanced to just two bowls in nearly two decades of FBS existence.
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho Vandals don’t have a clear-cut starting quarterback heading into the summer. But they have playmakers in spades – and a starting defensive front brimming with confidence. Idaho finished their spring with the Silver and Gold game at the Kibbie Dome on Friday night, with Matt Linehan and Chad Chalich looking as close to one another in a nip-and-tuck QB race as they had over the past five weeks.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Mike Marboe’s first spring football experience at Idaho came just after the Vandals had pocketed a once-in-a-decade bowl victory and coach Robb Akey was rewarded with a contract extension. This was late March 2010. Marboe had graduated a semester early from Wenatchee High School so he could enroll early at Idaho.
MOSCOW, Idaho – One of the truths of spring football is that what happens in April doesn’t always carry over to the fall. For Idaho, team scrimmages will give way to the season opener at Florida, and players who stood out in spring drills might not even make the trip to The Swamp. Some trends that surface, though, are sustainable. Idaho coaches hope the depth and strength they saw from the defensive line on Saturday is one of them.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Three-quarters of the way through a nearly three-hour scrimmage on Saturday, Idaho quarterback Chad Chalich’s throwing shoulder started to tire. This was understandable on a number of levels. After all, Chalich and Matt Linehan took all the snaps during the 190-play scrimmage – the first of the spring for the Vandals. And the redshirt sophomore from Coeur d’Alene missed the last five full games of 2013 after injuring that same shoulder.
MOSCOW, Idaho – It was just one play on the second day of spring practice. Still, it had to be tantalizing to Idaho football coach Paul Petrino and his offensive staff to think of the possibilities. Lined up next to each other on the outside on Monday evening were two wide receivers with elite speed. One was Dezmon Epps, the Vandals’ most accomplished returning pass-catcher. The other was Joshua McCain, who has spent his college career as a quarterback but was recently converted to wideout.
MOSCOW, Idaho – In early March, when the University of Idaho basketball teams were still vying for postseason spots, the Vandals football team gathered at Memorial Gym for a little hoops of its own. The football players-only basketball tournament was one of several offseason events that UI coaches organized to put the team in a competitive environment months before its season opener at Florida. But that wasn’t the only reason.
MOSCOW, Idaho – Part of the University of Idaho band filled the back of the room. Fans and family were seated behind Vandals players and coaches. Even UI’s new president, Chuck Staben, said a few words to the crowd before the NCAA tournament selection show began.
MOSCOW, Idaho – If the Idaho Vandals break through in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament for the first time and rip off a few postseason wins, they’ll probably look back at a lull in their schedule in late January and early February as the turning point. Idaho had lost 12 of 20 games, and six of its last eight, when Don Verlin and his assistants were presented with almost two full weeks of practice time – just one game in 13 days – to tinker. Which is exactly what they did.