For Taylor Davis, it was just another day of work, nothing he hasn’t done or seen before. Called into action at Arkansas State on Oct. 12, it was the third consecutive season that Davis had played quarterback despite not being the starting signal caller. And so it was last Tuesday afternoon at the Kibbie Dome when Davis, the third-string quarterback when the season began, was taking repetitions with the first team offense.
“It was a good time to get back in it and play football again,” Davis said.
The fifth-year quarterback is potentially looking at starting a game for the third consecutive season at Idaho — despite never starting a season atop the depth chart. In 2011, Davis came in for then-starter Brian Reader during times where Reader struggled. Last season, Davis lost out in the quarterback battle with Dominique Blackman, but split time with Logan Bushnell when Blackman was dismissed from the program. This season, it’s out of necessity because of injury.
Starting quarterback Chad Chalich spent last week with a sling over his throwing shoulder after injuring the shoulder while taking a sack. Backup Josh McCain was also sidelined with a shoulder injury on his non-throwing shoulder.
The timetable for their return is unknown, Idaho coach Paul Petrino said.
“That’s just something the doctors, the training staff and him (are looking at) … you know Chad’s tough, whenever he can play he’ll play. It’ll just be a matter of how long it takes for him to get better and I really don’t know how long,” Petrino said.
The two quarterbacks stood together during practice, the slings over their shoulders serving as a visual reminder of how difficult the independent schedule has been for Idaho. The gauntlet continues, with Idaho heading to Oxford, Miss. to face Ole Miss. Should the top two quarterbacks not recover in time to be able to suit up, it will be true freshman Matt Linehan who will be Davis’ backup. Linehan is currently redshirting, but it will be burned if Linehan steps on the field for a play of any kind.
Petrino said Linehan, the son of former Vandal quarterback Scott Linehan, will only burn his redshirt as a last resort.
“If we have to. I would not ever do it, like the other day when (Taylor Davis’) helmet came off and it was just one play, so we took the timeout,” Petrino said. “If it were ever something where it was just a play here or a play there, I would not ever do it. But if (Davis) were out for the whole game, out for a couple games, then yeah, we’d have to (burn the redshirt).”
Practices this week will determine who will be healthy enough to play at Ole Miss. Currently, there is no third quarterback if Chalich and McCain are still unavailable, but linebacker Austin DeCoud does have experience as a quarterback at Idaho after moving to defense from quarterback in the spring. Currently, Petrino said he has no plans to move DeCoud back to the offensive side of the ball.
For now, though, it could be Davis making a start for the Vandals for the third straight season.
“It’s great. These are my last five games, and after that I’m done. It’s great to be back out there with all of the guys,” Davis said.
Sean Kramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org