Five things Idaho can do if Matt Linehan gets hurt

Matt Linehan is good. Really good. If you watch Matt Linehan play football then you realize he is good. If you look at the numbers then you realize he is good.

For example! He has a low interception rate (once every 35 attempts at 391 attempts) and his dramatically improved completion percentage from his freshman season (63.4 percent from 58.5 despite throwing more) is fantastic considering the methodical, work-the-ball-down-the-field offense. A handful of those interceptions had nothing to do with Matt Linehan. He’s good!

Usually when you have a good quarterback, you win games. The last time Idaho had a good quarterback it won 13 games in the final two seasons said quarterback was on campus and won a bowl game in the process.



We also might go to a bowl game because of said quarterback. NO BIG DEAL.

Can we do if our golden arm goes down with an injury?

He sat out spring ball in a boot from offseason surgery and missed one start last season because of the injury his surgery stemmed from.

This worry is compounded by Jake Luton’s transfer from the program. Luton was the really tall guy with the super strong arm and who is probably going to end up back in FBS competing for a starting job. You really can’t blame him for leaving.

Idaho is left with two undersized quarterbacks behind Linehan who have no in-game experience and combined for only one redshirt season at the FBS level.

So, I’ve compiled this list of options for Pauly P to utilize in the unfortunate instance Linehan has to miss game action.

Quadruple Option

You’ve all heard of the Triple Option. I’m no coach, but let me explain it to you. Basically, the quarterback lines up with two tailbacks. He’ll take the ball and if the running lane isn’t there to turn up field, he’ll pitch it, then that guy will pitch it if his running lane isn’t there. It used to be really popular, now only a few teams run it.

Idaho is not particularly deep at running back,  yet has a very good run-blocking offensive line (I’ll talk more about this later).

Okay, so, Gunnar Amos and Mason Petrino are little dudes who can’t throw far but are athletic and shifty. Naturally, the option fits. How do we make it quadruple? Easy.

Mason Woods at fullback. LOOK, dude is 6-foot-9 and 355 pounds. Do you want to tackle that guy? I mean, just because he’s Canadian doesn’t mean he’s soft ( I can see why you’d think that, though).

Pitch it to Isaiah Saunders, who pitches it to Aaron Duckworth up the sideline, who pitches BACK to Woods toward the hash marks who then barrels forward for at least a good five yards. Do this a few times and you’ll get a safety or two injured, which will then open up intermediate passing lanes.


Punt on first down

All-American punter Austin Rehkow averaged 46 yards a kick and put three inside the 20 for every touch back. Why not just utilize your best player? If we get a crap ton of forced fumbles or turnovers on defense with really good field position I feel like this could work out.

Bionically engineer Matt Linehan

This shit has been working for the Seattle Seahawks for years. Have you heard Russell Wilson speak? Zero chance that dude is 100 percent human. PLUS, he hasn’t missed a single start in four full seasons.

So, we have two advantages in making this happen. One, we use our Tom Cable connection to get in with the Seahawks and see how they’ve done it.

Secondly, the University of Idaho has an absolutely superb College of Engineering.

“The College of Engineering at the University of Idaho provides world-class learning and research opportunities in Biological Engineering, Chemical and Materials Science Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.”

That’s a little more impressive than being known for truck driving.

Now, we need to use it to our advantage in football.

My only request is that we get to keep his personality, please.

Just use Scott Linehan

At the spry age of 52, Scottie is only 30 years removed from his exceptional days as a Vandal. Time to re-live your glory days, bro.

“Wouldn’t this violate NCAA eligibility rules?” you’re asking. Since when did anybody care about the rules? We’ll just trot him out there in Matt’s jersey announce him as Matt. Is it cheating if the name of the back of the jersey technically isn’t wrong?

We’ll just need to borrow Jerry Jones’ private jet so Scott can get back to Dallas for his day job.

Win without him anyways

Alright, let’s talk forrealsies.

Jake Luton’s departure sucks. It’s certainly the best move for Jake but it hurts Idaho, which had two FBS-level quarterbacks to call upon.

Are freshmen Gunnar Amos and Mason Petrino up to snuff for this level? Nobody knows! We can certainly make an educated guess that they’ll struggle because of disadvantageous size and a perceived inability to operate down the field the way Linehan can.

With disadvantages come advantages! These little guys can run and are athletic. Both were initially recruited to play other positions before being moved back to the position of their high school stardom because Chad Chalich and Luton leaving in back-to-back seasons.

While we go into this season with the worst quarterback depth we’ve had since Logan Bushnell was starting games, this is also the deepest the offense has been since the Humanitarian Bowl.

The offensive line returns 73 career starts among four starters, with a unit so deep one of those returning starters might not win his job back.

The offensive line ranked sixth in the country in stuff rate, meaning only five teams in the entire country allowed running backs to get tackled behind the line of scrimmage less. It ranked 36th in the country in Adjusted Line Yards, meaning the offensive line continually created enough space for Elijhaa Penny to get at least four yards with ease. Pass protection isn’t exceptional, but only allowing Linehan to be sacked 5.9 percent of the time on standard passing downs is an extreme improvement from when Petrino arrived in 2013 (7.8 percent in 2013).

And then there’s the receiving options. Pick a dude to throw the ball too. Trent Cowan and Deon Watson at tight end give Amos and Mason Petrino 1,190-yards-of-production of a safety blanket for intermediate throws. Callen Hightower and David Ungerer are YAC guys who can run short routes and break ’em, and Jordan Frysinger has emerged as a player who can get the ball in a multitude of ways.

More importantly, Paul Petrino knows to fit his offense to the personnel he has available. Gunnar Amos will run the read-option far more frequently than Linehan will, as I can attest to observing in practice last season. His playbook will be smaller yet more effective for him.

Amos will most likely see the first snaps of his collegiate career against Pac-12 foes Washington and Washington State should those games get out of control, which will be important to see how the offense will differ should he get time during the Sun Belt slate.

Fingers crossed, though, Linehan starts a full slate of 13 games for the first time in his career.

Because fuck it, we’re still going bowling. Go Vandals.


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