Getting faster is a major emphasis for Vandals

Petrino has pushed for Idaho to get quicker since the moment of his arrival.

August 25, 2013 

Najee Lovett.JPG

Idaho senior receiver Najee Lovett is one of the Vandals’ speediest players. He recently clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds.

COURTESY IDAHO VANDALS

Idaho coach Paul Petrino looks for high-character, hard-working players first when he’s recruiting.

After that, he wants them to be fast.

The Vandals’ first-year coach has made finding speedy players one of his main priorities, along with making the players he inherited a little more fleet of foot.

“Especially when you’re turning a program around, and you’re playing some teams that are supposedly better, speed is a great equalizer,” Petrino said.

Petrino said when he arrived in Moscow that he was going to routinely time his players in the 40-yard dash to hold them to a benchmark that they should strive to beat. According to Petrino, three players were able to run sub-4.6 second 40s when he took over last December.

“We have 21 now,” offensive tackle Jesse Davis said. “It’s been a real big focus for all of us, something everyone worked hard on this summer.”

Idaho’s defense yielded 6.6 yards per play, and the offense averaged just 4.7. The offense had only three plays of 40 yards or more all season in 2012.

“We’ve been pushing for more big plays,” redshirt freshman quarterback Chad Chalich said. “If we can get quicker as a team, push the tempo a little bit, then we’re going to score a lot more points.”

Looking back to his days as a Vandal assistant coach from 1992-94, when the team went 29-9, Petrino noted, “When this program was rolling, we had a lot of little fast guys.”

Sure enough, Petrino’s quest to find that sort of player was immediately successful — the team’s fastest player is 5-foot-8, 180-pound true freshman running back Richard Montgomery.

“He’s as fast as anyone I’ve had — he can fly,” Petrino said.

The emphasis on speed is supplemented by a stress on getting stronger, too. Petrino added a large bell in the middle of the weight room that is rung by a player whenever he sets his personal best.

“It would bug me when an O-lineman would put up big weight and everyone hoots and hollers, but when a receiver set a new mark, no one paid attention,” Petrino said. “Now, when you get that whole room excited, everyone’s going to push themselves to work harder, keep striving to get stronger, faster.”

Dave Southorn: 377-6420Twitter: IDS_Southorn

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