| 03.24.2018

Once again, QB battle highlights spring ball


It’s not Paul Petrino’s first go at spring football, but the first-year Idaho coach looks to have his hands full as the Vandals jump into spring practice Friday at 4 p.m. on the SprinTurf.
Hoping that snow flurries won’t put a damper on his first practice wearing the head-coaching hat, Petrino is anxious and curious, but patient to see which of his questions will be answered by the spring season.
“We worked real hard all offseason learning our installations, a seven-day installation that we have, so tomorrow will be day one,” Petrino said. “It’s exciting, I can’t wait to get out there.”
The new era in Moscow, according to Petrino during his initial press conference, is one that will feature a high-scoring offense and quarterback-flattening defense. But flashbacks from last year’s regime have raised a bundle of questions, with five quarterbacks jockeying for one starting spot.
It will be Taylor Davis, Chad Chalich, Austin DeCoud or Anthony Neyer taking the majority of the snaps by the end of the spring, but junior college transfer Josh McCain will slip into the mix by summer time with hopes to dethrone the starter.
“I already have in my mind who I think is a little bit ahead of who but you got to get out there on the field and see them. See live bullets and see how they play and that could work itself out a bit and if it takes a little longer, the reps could stay equal,” Petrino said.
Davis returns as the only quarterback to have experience as a starter at the Division 1 level, and the to-be-senior has started four combined games in 2011 and 2012. Chalich, the highly-touted freshman out of Coeur d’Alene, redshirted during the fall season, as did DeCoud, a 6-foot-3 Redlands, Calif., native. Neyer was one of Petrino’s three quarterback recruits and is two years removed from a reserve role at USC, where he took snaps next to ex-Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley.
Petrino expects to see separation between the four within the first few weeks of spring practice and hopes to name a starter by the annual spring game on April 19.
“To be honest with you, not til that fifth practice which is next Saturday, that’s probably when some separation will be made between the guys,” he said.
Regardless of who Petrino’s chosen starter is, the Vandals’ gunslinger will be protected by an offensive line, which may be Idaho’s most experienced unit.
Not only does Idaho return 2012 Rimington Award watch list honoree Mike Marboe, but the Vandals will relish the experience of 12-game starter Cody Elenz, 11-game starters Jordan Johnson and Dallas Sandberg, as well as Spencer Beale, who saw action in 11 games.
Idaho’s offensive lineman shed an average of 15-20 pounds during the offseason, in an attempt to become more mobile and agile.
“They were just too heavy, they were just too fat,” Petrino said. ” You can’t play football that heavy but ideally, the bigger the better, but it has to be good weight, it has to be muscle.”
The Vandals’ spring season will see them practice 15 times, including scrimmages on March 30, April 5 and April 13. The annual spring game will begin at 6 p.m. on April 19.
Theo Lawson can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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