MOSCOW – Knowing a decision made by the Sun Belt presidents was more or less out of his hands, Idaho coach Paul Petrino is looking forward to controlling what he can control: just football.
The University of Idaho begins 2016 spring football Thursday, and with it Petrino’s fourth season in charge of the Vandals.
“You control what you can control, we’re in that league for two more years,” Petrino said. “We have a chance to be a very good team this year, we’re going to get fired up, excited and have the best year we can.”
Indeed, the program harbors expectations of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009 following its 4-8 showing last year that included two one-possession losses on the road after leading by three possessions.
“We get two more years to play these guys, let’s be the very best we can and get after it every single game that we play.”
Incumbent starting quarterback Matt Linehan will sit out all of spring practice from a foot injury he sustained during the season. Petrino was vague about when the injury occurred, but Linehan was in a boot following the loss to Georgia Southern on Sept. 27 and missed the following game at Arkansas State.
It’s not clear if that’s the specific injury that Linehan is recovering from.
“He showed great toughness and played with it a lot last year. They fixed it up here in the offseason, (but) he won’t take any reps this spring,” Petrino said.
Linehan is expected to be healthy by the start of fall camp.
Redshirt sophomore Jake Luton and redshirt freshman Gunnar Amos, formerly of Coeur d’Alene High, will get most of the reps at quarterback throughout the spring. Luton, a 6-foot-6-inch right-handed quarterback with a powerful arm, started one game and played in five others last season.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for them to take all the reps. The more and more reps you take at quarterback the more you get better,” Petrino said.
Luton and Amos will get more hands on work with new quarterbacks coach Charley Molnar, who will transition over from his previous wide receivers spot to replace Bryce Erickson. Erickson left after three seasons to take the head coaching position at Lake City High.
Petrino himself will start working hands on with wide receivers. He also officially announced the hiring of Troy Purcell from Bozeman (Mont.) High to coach inside linebackers.
“He’s probably the best high school coach in the state of Montana. He’s had all kinds of success,” Petrino said. “Very excited about that, he’ll bring great knowledge, enthusiasm and fire to our defense.”
The spring game is slated for Friday, April 22 with the season opener coming on a Thursday night, Sept. 1, against Montana State.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.