MOSCOW, Idaho – The sounds of football reverberated throughout the Kibbie Dome Saturday as the University of Idaho’s defense had its most impressive performance of the spring with the kind of hard hitting that can only make a coach smile.
“There were some big hits,” said coach Paul Petrino as the Vandals wrapped up their third week of spring drills. “They got after the offense pretty good. That was probably by far the loudest hitting.”
Without a doubt there were some in-their-tracks stops that drew oohs from the fans and applause from the rest of the defense.
“The defense came up and made some big stops,” Petrino said. “That’s something we haven’t been doing all the time. That was a positive.”
Junior college transfer Irving Steele was the leader among the defense with 14 stops as a linebacker. Returning safety Bradley Njoku’s, the Vandals’ second-leading tackler in 2013, added 11 with Jordan Grabski, another safety, and linebacker Marc Millan tallying eight each. Junior end Quinton Bradley had three sacks.
After being knocked on its heels a bit in the early going of the scrimmage, the offense responded with 11 touchdowns – five rushing and six passing.
“The offense made some big plays later in the scrimmage,” Petrino said. “That was good to see because we need the defense to play good, too.
“Overall, I was happy with it.”
Sophomore Chad Chalich and redshirt freshman Matt Linehan shared time at receiver with Chalich connecting on 13 of 29 throws for 195 yards and one TD, and Linehan going 27-of-43 for 364 and five scores.
Seniors Dezmon Epps and Joshua McCain, and sophomore Deon Watson were the top receivers with Epps pulling in 10 for 156; Watson grabbing nine for 150, and McCain four for 96. All told, 10 players caught at least one pass.
Senior Jerrel Brown fueled the running game with 121 yards on 28 carries with Kristoffer Olugbode, another senior, covering 64 yards on 14 carries and freshman Isaiah Saunders also carrying 14 times (46 yards).