MOSCOW - Like a child who stares out the window on a rainy day, Idaho kicker/punter Austin Rehkow appeared quite bored on a wet Tuesday afternoon on the Palouse.
With heavy rain pouring down on Idaho's SprinTurf Field, Rehkow, who normally operates in the Kibbie Dome while the rest of the Vandals practice outside, had his space usurped for the day and was forced to spend much of Idaho's early-week practice on the sidelines watching and throwing rather than kicking.
And if he was being efficient, Rehkow, a true freshman from Spokane, was also pumping his new punting tutor, Bobby Cowan, for information.
Cowan, who is the program's career leader in punts (259), yards (11,570) and yards per punt (44.7), had a short stint with the Oakland Raiders in early May, but was waived when the team signed former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.
Still eager to pursue a career in the NFL, Cowan was seen around the team in fall camp and is working with the true freshman one-on-one as a graduate assistant.
"I think (Bobby) has done a great job with (Rehkow)," Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. "They come in here and work a lot together when we're outside practicing."
So far, Rehkow's results have been Cowan-like.
In three games, Rehkow has punted 20 times, averaging 48.2 yards per punt. Seven of his kicks have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line, nine have traveled farther than 50 yards and none have been blocked.
And with 963 yards accrued, Rehkow is on pace to finish second in school history in yards for a single season - second behind Cowan's 4,084-yard season of 2011.
"Austin's done a real good job punting," Petrino said. "He's going to be a special punter before it's all said and done. He's got a big-time leg."
CROSSING PATHS WITH THE PIRATE
Despite boasting a pair of lengthy coaching résumés, Idaho coach Paul Petrino and Washington State coach Mike Leach have only crossed paths once on the field.
That meeting came on Sept. 5, 1998 when Kentucky beat Louisville 68-34. At the time, Petrino was the receivers coach at Louisville while Leach was the offensive coordinator at Kentucky.
Their second meeting will come this Saturday when Idaho travels to Pullman to take on Washington State.
"I've always followed (Leach)," Petrino said. "I think he's a great coach. What he did at Texas Tech was unbelievable with all the wins he had there."
'EXCITING TIMES' FOR THE VANDALS
When Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear thinks back to his favorite moments in the Vandals' long series with Washington State, it's no surprise that he immediately brings up the games in 1999 and 2000.
Of the Vandals' 17 wins in 90 previous contests, those two victories are the most recent.
"I've been on this campus since 1989, so I was certainly here in '99 and '00 when the University of Idaho was successful in that game," Spear said. "Those were exciting times."
Needless to say, in the six years since that last meeting between the Palouse schools, plenty has changed.
The former Pac-10 added Utah and Colorado to the mix and the WAC's football division was gutted and then eventually shut down, forcing Idaho into a season of football independence before a reunion with the Sun Belt Conference.