Petrino, Vandals eager to get to work

Idaho’s new coach hopes enthusiasm carries all the way through fall camp. The move from September to July provides plenty of positives for the Web.com Tour event.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.com © 2013 Idaho StatesmanJuly 31, 2013 

  • IDAHO’S KEY DATES

    Monday: First practice of fall camp

    Aug. 10: First scrimmage, 10 a.m. PST

    Aug. 17: Second scrimmage, 10 a.m.

    Aug. 23: Mock game, 2 p.m.

    Aug. 31: Season opener at North Texas, 5 p.m.

  • Coach Mike Kramer (3-19) begins his third season coaching the Bengals.

    Idaho State was picked to finish last in the Big Sky preseason coaches and media polls.

    Aug. 12: First practice of fall camp

    Aug 20, Aug. 24, Aug. 28: Scrimmages

    Sept. 7: Season opener against Dixie State at 3:05 p.m.

Three wins the last two seasons, questions about whether the team should drop down to the FCS level and coaching staff upheaval are behind the Idaho Vandals.

Now, dare we say, is there optimism in Moscow?

First-year head coach Paul Petrino believes so, and said a challenge for him is keeping that going as fall camp, which begins Monday, marches on toward the Aug. 31 opener.

“I think there’s all kinds of excitement,” Petrino said Tuesday. “(The question) is how much there is on day 14 in fall camp. That’s when we’ve got to keep the passion, keep each other excited with great attitudes, great effort — that’s the key.”

Petrino’s team will have to navigate an independent schedule in 2013 that includes last year’s Orange Bowl teams — Florida State and Northern Illinois — before moving to the Sun Belt in 2014. Taking over a team that was outscored by nearly 27 points per game in a 1-11 season, Petrino understands improvement will be gradual, but starts with the efforts the team puts in now.

“Every day we’re going to continue to improve, continue to battle,” Petrino said. “… there’s probably going to be a couple games where we take some lumps. You get up, fight again. It’s kind of like they say in Montana ‘if you’ve never had your butt kicked, you probably don’t fight very much.’ ”

Though he addressed every position group Tuesday, naturally the first one to be brought up was quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Chad Chalich, who threw for 302 yards and ran for 102 in the team’s final spring scrimmage, has a strong lead entering fall camp, though Petrino wants to see senior Taylor Davis and junior college transfer Joshua McCain to compete.

“Out of spring ball, Chad came out as the leading quarterback … he’ll start out as the guy that people (need to) beat out,” Petrino said.

Petrino’s team had the spring to begin learning the new schemes, and players were left to their own devices this summer to let the knowledge sink in further. Petrino is anxious to get his first fall camp under way and see the difference since the team’s last set of practice.

“I’m excited to see next week how big those improvements are, hopefully it’s a great improvement in understanding of the offense and defense,” Petrino said.

ROSTER NOTES: Petrino said senior offensive lineman Jordan Johnson (11 starts last season at tackle), likely won’t play this season because of a back injury. … Isaiah Saunders, a running back signee, may grayshirt because of an injury. … Incoming quarterback Matt Linehan will compete for playing time, Petrino said, but is a likely redshirt candidate.

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