Matt Linehan’s comedic instincts kick in every time he sees a reporter pull out a camera or voice recorder.
At this point in spring football, his teammates are rarely surprised when Linehan interjects during one of their interviews.
Marc Millan cracked up a little as he turned his head while midsentence with the media to see Linehan with his helmet on backward, wandering back and forth for the cameras.
Linehan also tried his hand at being a reporter by asking cornerbacks coach Aric Williams during a media session how scared he gets when he sees Linehan’s No. 10 gold jersey lining up behind center.
Even kickers aren’t safe. Linehan crept up on Austin Rehkow while talking with a reporter about improving his place-kicking and shouted some advice.
“Just kick it far, it’s not hard,” he jokingly advised the Spokane Valley native.
Linehan’s sense of humor has probably always been there. How he displays it during practices may be a sign of a player who’s ready to accept the leadership responsibility of not only being the Idaho Vandals starting quarterback but also the face of its program.
After all, there haven’t been a lot of smiles and laughter at the Kibbie Dome during three consecutive one-win seasons.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback will work exclusively with the first team during tonight’s Silver and Gold Spring Game at 6 p.m. at the Kibbie Dome.
Coaches are hesitant to declare Linehan the starter for Idaho’s Sept. 3 opener against Ohio despite a spring of outperforming redshirt freshman competitor Jake Luton.
“It’s a competition, nothing is given here at the University of Idaho,” quarterbacks coach Bryce Erickson said. “They’ll be competing from now until that first game against Ohio.”
Luton will receive first-team work during the spring game and also work with the backups along with former Coeur d’Alene standout Gunnar Amos.
Petrino reluctantly revealed Linehan is leading the battle when asked who would start a hypothetical game this weekend, although he doesn’t seem to think that matters much for how the battle will play out in the spring.
“It doesn’t need to be made a big deal of,” Petrino said. “In this day and age you usually need two of them, if not three of them, for a whole season.”
As far as Petrino is concerned, every position is still up for grabs.
“I don’t know of anyone who has a job,” he said. “They all have to keep battling and competing and see who gets it done.”
The exception is Rehkow, who will kick and punt in his first spring game. He only kicked PATs last spring while dealing with a back injury. The junior was a finalist for the Ray Guy award, awarded to the nation’s top punter, but struggled at kicking.
“(We) weren’t happy with his place-kicking last year. It wasn’t to his caliber,” said offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich, who also coaches Rehkow. … “There were a couple of fundamental deals that he’s really focused on and he’s done a really good job helping himself that way.”
Other things to watch tonight will be the 3-4 defensive scheme of soon-to-be new defensive coordinator Mike Breske and the performance of top receiving target Dezmon Epps.
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