The Vandals are off the practice field Wednesday, the last one open to the public and media before the team flies down to Baton Rouge on Friday.
Not a ton to report, they were pretty standard practices. The mood around practice was pretty relaxed and fairly business oriented. Perhaps the reality of the situation that they will be playing at LSU Tiger’s Stadium on Saturday hasn’t set in yet, or maybe they’re trying to keep their excitement leveled for such an opportunity.
Two loud speakers were present at both Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice to simulate crowd noise and at one point Jason Gesser and Dominique Blackman walked over to signal that they wanted it louder.
After the practices we were able to talk to some coaches and players on the match-up, and we’ll have other notes from the week below that.
- Defensive Coordinator Mark Criner spoke on the differences of the LSU offense compared to the more pass oriented offenses the team faced against Eastern Washington and Bowling Green. He noted that they, at times, will have up to eight blockers at the line of scrimmage including the running backs and the challenges that that presents for the already struggling Idaho pass rush. He said that it’s opportunities that arise when LSU releases the tight ends and backs that Idaho will have to take advantage of in order to get pressure on Mettenberger. Picking and choosing when to send pressure will be critical, he said.
On LSU’s dominant run game he said that they have to be able to control it with their gap control defense. “When they spread it they’re back to human a little,” he said.
He talked about Idaho’s struggles against the pass the last two weeks, saying that they’ve played a lot of press coverage lately and that it’s been the third down plays that are really killing them. He brought up the play of Solomon Dixon, who filled in for Tracy Carter against Bowling Green after he left the game with a knee injury, bringing up one play in which he played great coverage on a deep ball, but wasn’t able to make the play because of trying to squeeze the receiver to the sideline instead of turning him inside to make the play. “That’s where we have to get better,” he said.
And on whether or not Idaho has a shot on Saturday, he said “We have to play consistent, you never know what can happen…Why not us?”
- Linebacker Rob Siavii has played in these type of guarantee games his entire career including games at Arizona, Washington and Nebraska.
“It’s way better playing against a top ten team. You get a better feel, you get to play the best and it really brings the best out of you as a player,” he said. “I look forward to playing these types of teams because we can show the World what you can do,” he said.
On playing six out of conference games before getting in to WAC play – “It doesn’t really affect much, we can only take each game, game by game. As soon as this one gets over we worry about the next one.”
On what a win in this game would mean he said “It’s huge. Not only to this University but to all the underdog schools around the nation.”
- Defensive Tackle Jesse Davis talked about the difference in playing against the run heavy LSU from the pass heavy Eagles and Falcons – “We’ve always been a pretty good team going against the run, it’s not really a switch to us. It’s just getting in the mindset that they’re going to run it all game. Every down it’s going to be a hard down for us.”
On LSU’s offensive line compared to others he has faced – “It’s really no different in my mind. I’ve seen a lot of offensive line. They’re just a bigger size…it’s just going to be the same for me, just have to look hard at it.”
- Wide receiver coach Mike Levenseller - On the ability of his receivers to be able to find space against the LSU secondary – “There’s a reason they’re ranked where they are in the country. They’re big, fast, strong, run to the football. Match that intensity, that’s our challenge.”
On getting his kids ready to play at Tiger Stadium – “I’m more worried about me. I’ve never been to LSU. I’ve been to a lot of places and this is one of the places I’ve never been, I’m looking forward to the experience.”
And of course, your weekly Robb Akey-isms - On playing so many of these guarantee games – “In the perfect world you’d like to play one of these games. It’s a very good thing, for a number of reasons. The competition level, number one. The experience of being there. Our conference is not going to be that same caliber.”
He continues – “You look for a game where you’re supposed to be the upper team. We had one of those and we screwed it up, unfortunately. I’d like the other ones to be comparable to our conference…that has been the ultimate goal. The way some things have worked with the scheduling we have a couple more (guarantee games) in the last couple of years, it is what it is. I’m excited to go play this game. It’s going to be a great opportunity for our players, it’s got a national stage to it. (LSU) happens to be one of the most unique venues in college football. In that regard there’s a lot of ways that we can benefit from this.
“The thing that is tough if you are playing too many of these games it can be tough physically and mentally on your ability to go compete for the WAC conference championship. It is what it is and we’re anxious to go play this week. We’re going to make it be a good thing.”
On if he gets a say in the amount of games such as this that are scheduled he said “I get an opportunity to express my opinion but I’m not the one who puts it together.” That person is of course the athletic director, Rob Spear.
The game has been blacked out in the state of Idaho on ESPN Gameplan, meaning the only way that Idaho residents can watch the game is by purchasing it at TigerVision or finding a friendly neighborhood bar or watch party that’s purchased the game. Click here for details on how to purchase it.
As far as we’re concerned the game is fully available on ESPN Gameplan in Washington, meaning Pullman and Spokane fans should be good to go. Since ESPN3.com is freely available on college campuses it’s only eight miles away that the game will be able to be streamed for free at Washington State University. Imagine that.
Additional notes -
- On the injury front defensive tackle Quayshawne Buckley and cornerback Tracy Carter were both non-participants after suffering knee injuries at Bowling Green. Criner said he expects both to participate at Thursday’s closed practice and hopes they are available Saturday.
- This is the second consecutive year that Idaho is playing at least two BCS conference teams, in addition to BYU in Provo. Idaho received $2.075 Million from those games in 2011 and will receive $2.35 Million from such games this year.