|Vandals begin final prep|
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Paul Petrino Era is just days away from beginning and there is one thing certain: The Vandals will play with passion and execute with precision.
“It’s all about execution,” said Petrino, who debuts the 2013 Vandals at North Texas Saturday at Apogee Stadium. Kickoff in Denton is 6 p.m., 4 p.m. on the Palouse.
“We just keep going over the game plan, going over the game plan. Really watching them on tape. Watching ourselves on tape. Just understanding every last little detail of every play and then going out there and executing them.”
There will be more than a handful of new faces but there is a blend of veterans, too, in the team Petrino will be sending onto the field. The offensive front is led by returners Mike Marboe at center, Cody Elenz at tackle and Dallas Sandberg at guard. Jesse Davis also is a returning starter but this year he’s an offensive tackle instead of a defensive tackle, which he played the last two seasons.
The running back group is deep and fleet with transfers Jerrel Brown and Kristoffer Olugbode blending with true freshman Richard Montgomery and senior James Baker. The same is true of the receivers with seniors Najee Lovett and Roman Runner back with redshirt freshman Deon Watson joined by transfer Dezmon Epps and true freshman Rueben Mwehla in providing depth and a variation of talents. At tight end are veterans Clayton Homme and Michael LaGrone along with redshirt freshman Jared Klingenberg. The fullback is Jake Manley
Of course, quarterback is the position in the spotlight with redshirt freshman Chad Chalich joined by transfer Joshua McCain and returning senior Taylor Davis in the battle to lead the Vandals.
The defensive front and secondary are largely veteran with a trio of transfers taking over at linebacker. On the front, Quinton Bradley and Maxx Forde are forces to be reckoned with off the ends, with Ryan Edwards and Vince Keener providing the power in the middle. Behind them at linebacker are Marc Millan, Eric Tuipuloto and Juan Martinez with familiar faces Bradley Njoku and Trey Williams at the safeties and Solomon Dixon joined by newcomer Delency Parham at the corners.
No matter who is under center, on the line or in the backfield, Petrino wants to see an uptick not only during the season but from down-to-down.
“It’s just a matter of getting ready to play and going out there and playing every play as hard as you can; improving as the game goes along,” he said. “We have to get better as the game goes along.”
That has been true of fall camp.
“We’ve been getting better every day,” he said. “That’s important. It’s going to be a process. We just have to keep grinding, getting better.”
For Petrino, Saturday’s game is the culmination of a lifelong dream.
“Since I was a little kid,” he said, “I saw myself as a head coach. This is what I’ve been training to do since I could walk.”
Dan McCarney is in his third season at North Texas and his 15th as a head coach. He is 9-15 with the Mean Green and 65-100 overall. An Iowa graduate, he previously coached at Iowa (1977-89), Wisconsin (1990-94), Iowa State (1995-2006), South Florida (2007) and Florida (2008-10).