That is one of the first thing that stand outs about the Vandals, who will be a football-member only in the Sun Belt Conference next season.
"We've had to, between injuries, the numbers we've had, those guys have had to play,'' Petrino told the Idaho Statesmen. "A couple more might have to play before the end of the year.
"They'll have their day — when those guys are juniors and seniors, there'll be a great opportunity for them to put a whooping on people like they've unfortunately had to take a couple times this year.''
Three of the rookies have played on the defensive line, a tough place to break in newcomers.
There have been bright spots for the rookies. Quarterback Chad Chalick had 424 yards offense – 310 passing and 114 rushing -- in the 26-24 victory over Temple, one of the Vandals' four home games this season. Freshman kicker Austin Rehknow won the Ray Guy Award last week after averaging 51.1 yards on seven punts. Five of his seven kicks were longer than 50 yards.
"I think right now it's a little unrealistic to think you're not going to have those peaks and valleys with some of the people we're playing,'' Petrino said.
The other -- the Vandals struggle big time away from home. Their lone victory was over Temple was at home. On the road they have lost to North Texas 40-6, Wyoming 42-10 and Washington State 42-0.
Last week at home they were crushed by Fresno State 61-14. They played Northern Illinois 45-35 at home a month ago.
They rank 120th in the NCAA in scoring with 15.2 points per game and 123rd in points allowed, 42.3 Arkansas State ranks 78th in scoring (27.6) and 88th in points allowed (31.0).
The Vandals have been outscored 254-91. Offensively, they rush for 136 yards a game and pass for 225. They average 360 yards per game but have allowed 537 per contest.
Pass protection has been an issue. Vandal quarterbacks have been sacked 34 times for 238 yards in losses. In all, they have lost 313 yards on bad plays. They have recorded 28 negative yardage plays, for 102 yards.
In the fourth quarter they have only been outscored 45-37, but the first three quarters are pretty one-sided: 59-27, 87-24 and 63-3.
"From a defensive stand point I know they have good players," said ASU coach Bryan Harsin. "They play hard. They've gotten beat on some one-on-one matchups. NIU is a good football team. Fresno is a good football team. They've got good players.
"Offensively, they are doing some things. They put 35 points up against NIU. Some of those are special team plays and things like that. They do have good things. It is probably one or two things here or there.
I look at their personnel. Schemes are going to be fixed. We have been down that road. I don't look at their record I look at their players. I think they have good players and I think their team speed is good. They have correctable problems they are going to get corrected. I am sure they will be corrected by the time we play them.
"As far as match-ups go I think we match up well with them in certain areas but at the same time we have got to protect our quarterback number one. Their D line will bring pressure.
They do have the ability to throw the ball deep. They will take shots. We can't give up big plays. They do have the ability to run the football. They will attack us where other teams have and see if we have corrected them."
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