| 03.18.2018

Vandals just fine at QB with Chalich gone


Chalich likely headed out, Idaho OK at quarterback

Chad Chalich has a choice — stay at Idaho and compete to be the starting quarterback next season or transfer to another school.

Korbin McDonald | Argonaut

Korbin McDonald | Argonaut

Chalich has currently been granted permission to discuss transferring to three Big Sky schools — either Montana, Idaho State or Sacramento State.

The transition from high school to college is tough for most players. They go from star of their team and playing every snap to low-man on the totem pole and buried on the depth chart.

After he sat out his first year, Chalich won the job of starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman. He beat out senior Taylor Davis and junior college transfer Joshua McCain — who later switched positions and became the Sun Belt’s best wide receiver.

In one year, Chalich was in a role some quarterbacks spend their whole college career trying to get to.

After he started the first seven games, Chalich missed the rest of the 2012 season with a shoulder injury. That left the door open for yet another quarterback battle, but this time redshirt freshman Matt Linehan was vying for the position.

While no quarterback won the job outright when fall camp concluded, Linehan received the first opportunity to start. On the first drive of his collegiate career, the son of former Vandal quarterback Scott Linehan led the offense on a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.

Chalich had to wait five weeks before he took his first snap of the season against Georgia Southern where he passed once for a 41-yard completion.

The next week against New Mexico State, however, Chalich came off the bench when Linehan left the game early in the first quarter with a head injury. Chalich stepped in and led Idaho to its only win of the season. 

The chatter of quarterback controversy, which had been dormant for six weeks, was in full force when Chalich started playing. Fans started taking sides — Team Linehan or Team Chalich.

In the first half of the San Diego State game, Chalich pulled off his best Russell Wilson impersonation and rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. The chatter was growing rapidly.

But in the second half, Chalich was ineffective and after the game Petrino said he suffered a hip injury. The injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season, and the transfer rumors began.

The reason behind considering his option to transfer is still unknown. Everything was pointing toward Chalich being given an opportunity to compete once again for the starting job at Idaho.

Petrino wasn’t the head coach who recruited Chalich, and maybe that is a factor in his decision, but that’s just speculation.

What we do know is the Vandals will have yet another quarterback competition this offseason, this time between Linehan and redshirt freshman Jake Luton. Luton fits the build of a Division I starting quarterback. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Luton arguably has the better arm  between the two, as well.

Linehan showed glimpses of what he could potentially be, but at other times he looked like, well, a freshman quarterback. His 18 interceptions were not all his fault, and many of them came at the end of games when he was trying to make something happen out of nothing.

The good thing with both these guys is their ceilings are high and both are capable of leading the Vandals back to a bowl game.

The question is, will Petrino go with his third-straight season of starting a redshirt freshman quarterback in Luton or give Linehan a chance to improve on his up-and-down first collegiate season?

Korbin McDonald can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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