Only one of the four quarterbacks vying for the starting job in Idaho's spring practices has played in a game, and there's a new coaching staff in place.
Suffice it to say, the competition is, and will be, wide open for the foreseeable future.
"I think it's a pretty level playing field," senior Taylor Davis said. "It's a battle, there's a good variety of capable guys out there."
The Vandals are two practices into coach Paul Petrino's tenure, and the former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas is tasked with finding a starter.
Davis is joined by a pair of redshirt freshmen - Chad Chalich (Coeur d'Alene High) and Austin DeCoud (Redlands, Calif.) - and junior college transfer Anthony Neyer.
"We're giving them a lot," Petrino said. "We're going to see what our quarterback can do - the more he can do, the better. I want a guy who can adjust protections, get out of bad plays, things like that."
Petrino has stressed a quick pace to his practices, and has implemented an offense with a "little bit of everything," according to Chalich, who said the team started work on no-huddle situations Tuesday.
"Under center, shotgun, some option, multiple backs, no backs, we've done a lot," Chalich said. "It's a lot of stuff, and it can seem complex since so much is new, but you've got to be smart and they're seeing what we can handle."
It is the third straight year Davis has been in a competition, something he says "comes with the territory."
"It might help a little, but you know it's going to be a battle every year," he said. "I've got some experience, but not a lot of it. I kinda know what it's like when the bullets are flying."
The 6-foot, 205-pound Chalich, the Idaho Statesman's 5A player of the year his junior and senior years, redshirted last season as Idaho trudged through a 1-11 season. Coaches resisted pulling his redshirt, something he is happy about.
"It let me learn what college football was all about, and I have that extra year if I ever need it - it worked out well," Chalich said.
A different twist this spring is that Petrino will keep scrimmages live, with contact allowed on the quarterbacks.
Ive never been around them when theyve been hit, Petrino said. I want to look them in the eye when they take a shot. You cant win without a tough quarterback. How they respond might be a deciding factor.
Petrino said he will name a front-runner once spring practices are completed, but it wont be set in stone for the Aug. 31 season opener against North Texas. The team will add another quarterback this summer in junior college transfer Joshua McCain, and theres a lot of time between April and August, Chalich said.
Its not a sprint, but were working hard, all trying to catch their eyes now, Chalich said.
THE VANDALS FOUR QUARTERBACK CANDIDATES Taylor Davis, sr., 6-foot-3, 232 pounds: Davis has played in 12 games, completing 66-of-132 passes for 564 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Petrino on Davis: Hes got some good experience and has had a few nice, long runs so far.
Anthony Neyer, jr., 6-2, 215: A former walk-on at USC, he completed 32-of-65 passes for 422 yards at Pierce (Calif.) College last season. Petrino on Neyer: Hes done a good job of reading the defense and taking what it gives him.
Chad Chalich, fr., 6-0, 205: The Coeur dAlene High graduate threw for 3,641 yards, 42 TDs and two INTs as a senior in 2011. Petrino on Chalich: I like that hes made some tough throws, made some good reads.
Austin DeCoud, fr., 6-3, 216: A dual threat, he threw for 1,378 yards and ran for 403 yards as a senior in Redlands, Calif. Petrino on DeCoud: Hes done some good things running the ball, with a lot of nice runs.
STATE BOARD TO VOTE ON SUN BELT MOVE WEDNESDAY The Idaho State Board of Education is meeting at 4 p.m. MDT in a special session to give Idaho permission to accept an invitation into the Sun Belt as a football-only member.
I think itd be great, coach Paul Petrino said. It would really help us in a lot of ways being in a conference.
Idaho will play the 2013 season as an independent, with its other sports in the WAC. The non-football sports move to the Big Sky in 2014.
Itll be big for some of us younger guys, able to know where were headed, and grow up in a league, redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Chalich said.
POLICE INVESTIGATING IDAHO, WSU BRAWL
A Washington State football player has regained consciousness following an alleged Sunday brawl involving his teammates and Idaho players, according to reports in the Lewiston Tribune and Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Wide receiver Mansel Simmons was found with head injuries in the parking lot of a Pullman church, according to Pullman Police who responded to a reported assault early Sunday.
Police Commander Chris Tennant said Idaho and Washington State players were at the same private party when a disagreement occurred. The fight turned physical in a nearby church parking lot where witnesses confirmed a knife was displayed, but not used.
Simmons was transported first to Pullman Regional Hospital and then to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.
Tennant said, We have a person of interest being involved in that fight. He said that person was an Idaho player.
All thats coming up so far is just a rivalry between the two teams, Tennant said.
The Vandals are in the middle of spring practice, and new coach Paul Petrino said he is aware of the incident.
Were going to let the investigation take place. Were getting a lot of information, and we will do what is necessary when it is completed, he told the Idaho Statesman on Tuesday night.
Petrino said players involved in the fight are practicing, but declined to say how many were involved.
Simmons, from Elk Grove, Calif., redshirted at Washington State in 2011 and made no receptions as a second-year freshman in 2012.
Staff and wire reports