The No. 1 offensive unit scored 12 times, which, Petrino was quick to point out, might mean the defense didn’t fare so well but the defenders did make their way to five sacks (two by Ryan Edwards) and two interceptions (one each by Bradley Njoku and quarterback-turned-linebacker Austin DeCoud).
“I thought the offense had a real good day,” said Petrino after watching Chad Chalich lead the way to a collective 41 of 70 passing effort with his phenomenal 19-of-20. “I have to watch it on tape but Chad hit a lot of big plays. You saw the little guy, No. 4 (freshman running back Richard Montgomery) making all kinds of plays all over the field.
“(Receiver) Deon (Watson) made some big plays. I thought the O-line played a lot better. … Sometimes that means that maybe the defense didn’t. Again, until you go watch it on tape it’s never as good or bad.”
Using a large collection of receivers, tight ends and running backs, Chalich totaled 414 of the Vandals’ 717 passing yards.
Transfer Dezmon Epps led the 15 receivers, who caught at least one pass, with six catches for 111 yards. Watson’s totals were three for 84 with tight ends Clayton Homme (four for 50), Mike LaGrone (two for 93) and Jared Klingenberg (two for 84) figuring heavily into the mix. Freshman Trent Cowan also had four with a total 52 yards.
The run game, which totaled 194 yards, was led by junior college transfer Jerrel Brown with eight carries for 46 yards. Quarterback Josh McCain scrambled 10 times in covering 41 yards with Chalich running 13 times for 27.
A not so quantifiable positive was the overall effort.
“I like the guys’ attitude,” Petrino said. “We went ones on ones, straight in a row, for a long time. We’re playing hard. I heard some popping out there.”
Of course, nothing ever is perfect as a coach sees it.
“We have to run the ball better and we have to tackle better,” he said. “We just have to keep grinding.”