When Quinton Bradley removed his helmet to confront an offensive lineman lying on the ground, it seemed like a typical fall football practice could escalate into something more.
Bradley wasn’t fond of how Darius Peterson handled a blocking assignment against the senior defensive end.
It was a noteworthy moment considering Bradley, a senior defensive end, has been a cool-headed presence for four years, more likely to crack a joke than start fisticuffs.
Bradley’s cool and calm side prevailed while walking back toward the defense with a boisterous laugh.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever had something like that since I was a freshman, so I’m glad the new O-linemen are showing toughness and grittiness. I like that,” Bradley said. “It got me fired up.”
Idaho held a players-only meeting days prior to its first fall practice Wednesday night on the SprinTurf outside the Kibbie Dome. The B-Word, one that hasn’t realistically been spoken in Moscow since 2009, came up at the meeting, especially resonating with senior players such as Bradley.
Bowl. As in, bowl game. It may sound farfetched considering the team’s recent lack of success, but for Bradley, there’s nothing to lose in his final season.
It’s a conversation he remembered having when deciding to show respect for his competitor’s physical play instead of taking offense to it.
“I’m trying to preach that – don’t do nothing stupid,” Bradley said. “I needed to calm myself down and understand it was just a gritty play and we’re all trying to get better.”
It’s probably farfetched to think a program going on three straight one-win seasons has an opportunity to play in a bowl game, but give credit to players for attempting to ditch the losing mentality that tends to go with such a stretch.
“We’re not thinking about losing anymore,” quarterback Matt Linehan said. “If you get the losing mindset, you’re going to lose.”
Linehan should have plenty of opportunities to do that if he retains his position atop the depth chart. The redshirt sophomore played strongly, completing his first seven passes in team drills and connecting on two long touchdowns with star receiver Dezmon Epps.
That doesn’t mean he’s looking past his competition, redshirt freshman Jake Luton, who also passed the eye test on the first day.
“It’s a competition every day and I should treat it like one, especially in this sport,” Linehan said. “ … You’re the starter one play and the other play you’re not. I go into every practice as if I have to compete. There’s no reason not to.”
Linehan spent time this summer in California with his father, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, but spent most of it in Moscow working out with players.
Idaho coach Paul Petrino said it’s his playing experience that showed on the first day.
“I think he’s more confident, period, just because of playing,” Petrino said. “He’s more confident because he understands the offense more and understands defenses more. Regardless, he’s more confidence because of the experience he has.”