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Know a Foe – Week 7 – Keeping it La. Technical

18 Oct

The Idaho football program is being backed in to a cliff, and one more step back will push it all over the edge. Idaho sits at 1-6 and one more loss means Idaho will go bowl-less for a third consecutive season. The first game with backs against the wall happens to come at 5-1 Louisiana Tech, the team that lost to No. 18 Texas A&M by two points last weekend in Shreveport, La.

Though it’s not as if Idaho hasn’t had to travel long distances to face tough competition this season. This is Idaho’s fifth trip of the season to Texas or further east.

The challenge? Stopping La. Tech’s offense. Check that, the impossibility is stopping La. Tech’s offense. The Bulldogs have the number one offense in the country at 53.8 points-per-game. Their lowest scoring output was in a 44-38 win at Illinois. On top of that, La. Tech has only turned the ball over four times all season, three of them coming at Illinois.

There is a glimmer of hope, and that comes when Idaho will be on offense. La. Tech has a bottom-five defense in the country at No. 117. This is the week where Idaho can, and will have to, get its offense back on track. The running game got back on track last week at Texas State, though this will need to be the week where Idaho needs to operates its methodical offense on all-cylinders.

The most effective way to play defense against La. Tech is for Idaho’s offense to stay on the field, as cliche as it sounds. Methodical drives have been an issue for the Vandals. Both of Idaho’s touchdowns against New Mexico State were set up off of turnovers, while Idaho’s one touchdown at Texas State was set up with big plays. Idaho has struggled when its been forced to drive the length of the field and consistently convert third downs (10-28 the last two weeks).

And well, if nothing else, Idaho has little to lose this weekend.

Necessary Links

Here’s Theo Lawson’s preview in today’s issue of The Argonaut, in which he talks with cornerback Aaron Grymes and wide receiver Mike Scott about the power that is the La. Tech offense and the soft, fluffy bunny that is their defense

— Also in today’s issue of The Argonaut, I take a look at the program that La. Tech has built in Ruston and why they will continue to grow to bigger and better things — especially under the leadership of coach Sonny Dikes.

— Finally make sure to check back later for a full report of Idaho AD Rob Spear’s news conference regarding the 2013 independent schedule that is expected to be announced at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Scouting report

Here’s our video scouting report for this weekend’s match-up.

Better Know a Foe – Week 6 – Welcoming alumni back to Moscow

4 Oct

Western Athletic Conference – Now accepting applications.

Welcome back to the hundreds, or thousands, of University of Idaho alumni making the trek back to the Palouse for the weekend. The weekend festivities will be plenty, though the one that we all specifically have our eyes on is of course the football game on Saturday.

Though, it may be safe to say that the football program saw better days while some of those alumni were in Moscow.

The Idaho football team that will greet the Homecoming crowd sit at an embarrassing 0-5. Getting blown out of the water in two money games, losing at home to an FCS school and relinquishing a fourth quarter lead to Wyoming to lose in overtime accentuate how the season has gone. Oh, yeah, there is that whole conference-less thing Idaho has going for it as well.

There is good news, however! That news comes in the form of Idaho’s opponent, the 1-4 New Mexico State Aggies, on a four game losing streak after winning their opener against Big Sky Sacramento State. They also are without a conference next season.

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Better Know a Foe – week 3 at LSU edition – Geaux Time

13 Sep

It’s anybody’s guess on what will terrify the Vandals most Saturday night when the team walks out of Tiger Stadium’s visitors tunnel – The 450-pound live Bengal tiger caged up on the sideline staring them in the face, or the No. 2 team in the country that demolished the Pac-12’s Washington Huskies by 38-points last week.

In the heart of the Bayou they call it Death Valley, where teams that come in dreaming of upsets and victory often leave mauled and demoralized. LSU has won 19-straight at Tiger Stadium.

Regardless, the Vandals are well aware of the challenge that awaits them there.

The LSU mascot, Mike VI. He’s cute.

“Everything we do has to be another notch higher, another speed. That’s what they’re really good at, speed,” center Mike Marboe said. “That’s the biggest thing preparation wise, everything they do…is so much faster than anything we’ve ever seen.”

Speed, indeed. That speed kept the usually potent Washington offense touchdown-less and held quarterback Keith Price to 4.4 yards per passing attempt. The beat down of the Huskies moved LSU to 2-0 on the year, and 2-0 at Tiger Stadium with an average margin of victory of 32.5 points. 

“They call it Death Valley for a couple reasons,” coach Robb Akey said. “I think a lot of people have lost a game before they ever go in there, and that’s talking about SEC teams.”

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Better know a Foe: Humanitarian Bowl rubber match – Week 2 at Bowling Green

6 Sep

The H-Bowl table at the Corner Club in Moscow

It was the two-point conversion that re-defined what football was at the University of Idaho. The standard to which coach Robb Akey’s program is held was set on December 30, 2009 when Nathan Enderle hit Preston Davis in the back of the endzone, and pandemonium ensued. The play spurred Idaho to a 43-42 victory in the Humanitarian Bowl over Bowling Green, its second bowl victory since becoming a Football Subdivision program. Continue reading

Better Know a Foe: Week 1 (Thursday) v. Eastern Washington Eagles

29 Aug

Desmond Trufant puts an end to a nightmare for UW fans

Take a good look at that picture. That is Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant hauling down an interception in the endzone to seal a 30-27 victory over Eastern Washington for the Huskies at Husky Stadium last year. The interception put an end to a nightmarish development for the Huskies, who legitimately looked like they could lose to the Big Sky program in the 2011 season opener for both teams.

Make no mistake about it, the Eagles played well enough to win that game. They looked the part of a team that was capable of going in to an FBS stadium and winning, and in all likelihood it’s the mindset the team had.

So how aware of that are the Vandals as the Eagles prepare to make the drive down from Cheney? Continue reading

Better Know a Foe: Bowling Green

29 Dec

BOISE — In our Humanitarian Bowl edition of Better Know a Foe, we talked with BJ Fischer of FalconBlog, which has been documenting Trials and Triumphs in the BGSU Falcon Nation since 2004 — we salute that kind of commitment to the alma mater!

We reciprocated over on FalconBlog with a Vandal Blog Swap.

Tell us about Bowling Green — football history, bowl history, etc.

Bowling Green has been playing football since 1910. During the 1950 and 60s we had a very strong program, winning the small college national title in 1959. The 70s, 80s and 90s saw on and off success, ending the decade with among the worst periods in the history of the program. Starting in 2001, the program turned around under the leadership of Urban Meyer and this continued for a couple years under his OC, Gregg Brandon. Brandon was let go last year, and replaced by Dave Clawson.

This is Bowling Green’s ninth bowl appearance, and BG is 4-4. The Falcons have won four of their last five. However, no conversation about BG’s bowl history would be complete without a couple of disaster stories. The first was in 1985 when BG was undefeated but Coach Denny Stolz took another job the week of bowl prep. Stolz, his assistants, and his entire team apparently had their mind on other things as Fresno State beat BG 51-7. Then, in 2008, BG went to Mobile for the GMAC Bowl, playing Tulsa. Despite a seemingly even matchup, BG never showed up and was beaten 63-7, the worst defeat ever in bowl history.

How do Bowling Green fans view this bowl/matchup – is it a ho-hum affair or a pretty solid game from your perspective?

Bowling Green fans are excited about being in a bowl game this year. To come off a 6-6 season with a new coach, and actually get better and earn post-season play is a nice reward for our team. I especially feel good for our seniors, who are getting the opportunity to play in a bowl game after toiling in an underachieving system.

We certainly understand that it is a “see your breath bowl” and not in a glamorous warm weather climate. (Other MAC tie-ins include Toronto and Detroit, so, you know…). We have a cohesive team and they are happy to have been able to stay together for another month to prepare for this game.

We are also looking forward to playing Idaho, which presents a nice challenge to us.

Freddie Barnes — an unreal individual performance this season. What’s he been like to watch and how key will his play be?

It has been a true honor to watch Freddie Barnes this year. I was at the Catch-22 game where he nabbed 22 passes, and it was simply an incredible performance. Obviously, teams know that we are looking to get him the ball, and yet he can still get open. He gets a lot of credit for this… he is a smart player who knows how to find open spaces against almost any defense. Also, our unheralded OC Warren Ruggerio has done a great job moving Freddie around to find him space.

One misconception people have is that Barnes is some kind of system creature. Yes, he does catch the occasional bubble screen, but most of his catches have been downfield, and he has made some huge plays, earning key first downs and touchdowns with hard running after the catch. He delivered a withering stiff arm to help spark a miracle comeback against Kent and he scored the winning TD in the last minute against Buffalo. He is a true football player.

Offensively, who are the Falcons’ playmakers and what lineups should we look for?

Well, aside from Barnes, the next key playmaker is senior QB Tyler Sheehan. Sheehan has a great senior season, and was the second best QB in the conference, after Dan LeFevour. While BG’s running game has struggled most of the year, Willie Geter is a great playmaker and can catch the ball as well. Jimmy Sheidler is dangerous at TE as well.

BG plays a lot of multi-receiver sets, however, is no longer a pure spread team. Coach Clawson says he is not a “system” guy, and will do whatever is needed to get the ball to playmakers in space, and that’s what you should look for.

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Better Know a Foe: Utah State

27 Nov

With football back in action, so is Better Know a Foe! Logan Herald-Journal beat writer Wade Denniston is this week’s victim, as we quizzed him about the rebuilding Utah State Aggies.

It’s been a tough first season for Gary Andersen and Utah State but there’s been flashes of promise — what’s the mindset in Aggieland?

You’re right, it has been a tough season for the Aggies as far as wins and losses. But, they’ve made so much progress and the product on the field is much better. Thanks to Andersen, there is new life in this program. Honestly, the Aggies are 7-10 plays away from possibly being bowl eligible this season. In seven of their eight losses, they were ahead at one time in the game. Three losses have been by four points or less. Compared to year’s past, the future seems bright for the Aggies, which is quite refreshing.

How big would a season-closing win on the road be?

It would be huge. Not only would it give the Aggies a lot of momentum heading into the offseason, but it would also snap a 12-game road losing streak for them.

Robert Turbin — does he not get the national cred he should because of the Aggies’ struggles?

Turbin probably doesn’t get the national cred due to the fact of Boise State. When people think of the WAC, BSU is more than likely the first thing that pops into their mind, and deservedly so. Turbin was recently awarded a helmet sticker by ESPN.com, so his name is definitely out there. And, he had a pretty good showing on national TV against BSU, which was a positive for him and Utah State.

Who are the key playmakers for Utah State on offense and defense?

Junior quarterback Diondre Borel and sophomore running back Robert Turbin make a nice one-two punch for the Aggies on the offensive side of the ball. Borel ranks first in the WAC and 19th in the nation in total offense, while Turbin is third in the WAC and 22nd in the nation in rushing.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Bobby Wagner has proven to be the playmaker on that side of the ball for USU. He’s currently locked in a nice battle with the Vandals’ Shiloh Keo for leading tackler in the WAC.

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