Did Rob Spear make the right decision to let go of Robb Akey during the season or should he have waited until the season’s end? We want your opinion. Follow the link below to complete our survey and we will release the results next week.
With actual football season right around the corner we get to take just a bit of a break from the conference re-alignment chatter and all of the uncertainty for one thing that we know for sure: That the Idaho Vandals will be playing football in the WAC in 2012.
All seven football playing members in the conference were present at the Orleans hotel in Las Vegas, as well as Interim WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd who had a lot of interesting things to say about the future of the Conference. (I guess we can’t ENTIRELY get away from it, can we?)
Among the zingers was a definitive statement that the WAC would NOT be a football playing conference in 2013 and is instead looking to salvage a future as a non-football member. However, Hurd did make comments about the WAC possibly returning as a football conference in 2014 or 2015. Apparently there were also rumblings around the room that both Seattle and Denver were exploring the possibility of adding football programs as well, but those discussions would be very preliminary. Expect an official announcement within the next couple of weeks.
How would all of that affect Idaho? We will be addressing that next week, so look out for our piece on Idaho’s immediate football and athletic future.
As for actually getting down to business for Idaho football in 2012, Coach Robb Akey, CB Aaron Grymes and WR Mike Scott represented the Vandals down in Las Vegas at the WAC Media event.
Here are the highlights of what Robb Akey and the players had to down in Vegas, with a link to the video at the bottom:
A summer update from Vandal Nation – Idaho cancels HS football camp, Akey’s hot seat, links and more27 Jun
It must be summer in Moscow. Looking out the window it’s pouring rain just a day after what felt like 80 degree weather. Gotta love it. Hopefully it being summer is also a good excuse for the lack of content on this blog recently, but that is going to change very soon. Including having the answer that everybody that reads this blog wants to know – Where will the Idaho football team end up? We’ll be tackling that and many more issues very shortly.
We’re also planning on bringing our readers:
With only five practices under their belt, the Idaho Vandal football team took the field Saturday for their first scrimmage of the spring season.
Questions coming into the game surrounding the quarterback battle, inexperienced offensive line and defensive secondary were all addressed on the field in the scrimmage, but it’s still too soon for any concrete answers.
Idaho coach Robb Akey said he was happy with how the scrimmage ended, but things can always get better.
“I think on both sides of the ball I saw some good things happening, I saw opportunity for both sides and I saw some people take advantage of that opportunity and in other cases that faded away,” Akey said.
The biggest question on fans minds coming into the spring season is who will be the Vandals’ signal caller this fall. Akey gave the first nod to junior Taylor Davis, who led the first team offense.
Akey said he would be looking to see big plays and a few fireworks in the scrimmage – he didn’t have to wait long for the opening show. In only the third play of the scrimmage, Davis found senior receiver Mike Scott for a 51-yard pass that brought the ball down to the seven yard line. Scott blew past senior cornerback Aaron Grymes on the play, but Grymes was able to recover and stop Scott from reaching the end zone. Three plays later, Davis thought he had the first touchdown of the game, finding junior tight end Taylor Elmo wide open on a broken screen play, but the score was pulled back due to a penalty. Senior kicker Trey Farquhar then missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.
Akey said he saw a lot of chances go to the wayside on both sides of the ball, especially in the red zone.
“We had red zone situations down here and defensively we had a chance to get ‘em stopped and we had a third down pass interference, and that’s a drive stop play right there.” Akey said. “In that same situation on the other side we have two touchdowns pulled off the board with two penalties, so we need some more discipline there.”
Scott said that finishing was a bit of a problem in the scrimmage, but it’s the main goal of the team for the spring season.
Photo courtesy Bruce Mann
Heartbreak. It’s been the theme of the 2011 season and Saturday afternoon wasn’t any different. Kicker Trey Farquhar scuffed a 52-yard field goal as the clock ticked down to zero, sending the Idaho Vandals to their sixth consecutive loss, a 16-14 decision.
Although Taylor Davis got the start at quarterback, Brian Reader was back in the game late in the fourth quarter. After completing two consecutive passes Reader threw into coverage and Aaron Brown picked the ball off on the Hawaii five-yard line.
The hosts remained on top 14-13, when Hawaii initiated their 67-yard drive, which ended with a 35-yard field goal gave the Warriors a two-point lead. With 32 seconds remaining, Reader completed consecutive passes to Kama Bailey and Landon Weaver but missed a wide open Michael LaGrone down field.
Forced to convert a 53-yard field goal, Farquhar stepped up and launched a rocket, which flew wide left of the goal post.
“Again, I’m talking about one play,” coach Robb Akey said. “It’s like a broken record and it’s painful. But we’re going to continue to come and work and it ain’t going to break us it ain’t going to break me. I had all the confidence in the world we’d finish this one, we had every opportunity to finish this one.”
The Vandals, now 1-7 and 0-4 in the WAC, led midway through the first quarter when Hawaii forced running back Princeton McCarty to fumble at the one-yard line. Offensive lineman Matt Cleveland reacted and scooped up the loose ball in the end zone.
Hawaii responded in the second quarter when quarterback Bryant Moniz found a wide open Billy Ray Stutzman in the end zone. The Warriors took a six-point lead following two field goals.
The Vandal defense had been pressuring Moniz all game and capitalized on Benson Mayowa’s forced fumble, which bounced directly into the hands of Tracy Carter who returned it 7o yards for the touchdown.
“We work pass rush in practice every day. We came out and fought hard with them, they worked us hard,” linebacker Korey Toomer said. “As a defense in pass rushing those guys, we were working the edges, we did as much as we could, we fought hard.”
Immediately after the play, defensive lineman QuayShawne Buckley head butted Carter, who may have suffered a head injury as a result, and was unavailable for the remainder of the game.
“Kid loves to celebrate,” Toomer said of Buckley. “He loves to be around his teammates and he celebrates a little different than everybody else so Tracy’s okay and we got a touchdown on defense.”
Moniz, who has been labeled as a 2011 Heisman candidate, was sacked six times and turned the ball over twice.
Nevertheless, the offense couldn’t ignite any sort of a spark and the defense allowed the Warriors a chip shot field goal while the special teams unit and Farquhar couldn’t knock in their own.
“I mean you look at this team, they play hard, they play with passion, they play physical I mean dadgum, now we need to make more plays,” Akey said. “I’m not saying we’re playing great but we’re doing those things, that means they’re laying it on the line. I feel sick for those kids, I want to see them be rewarded.”
Starting Davis was a decision that Akey made earlier this week in practice, and one that was based off of the Vandals’ desire for an offensive spark. Though the sophomore commanded the offense fairly well, he only completed 6 of 17 passes for 33 yards, and threw for one interception.
Reader, who came in as a backup, was five for seven with 52 yards and one interception.
“It’s nice to be called on in that situation, it’s happened before it happened a couple of years ago when I was a backup the whole season and I guess I had experience being a backup in that situation and I felt like I was ready to go,” Reader said. “They trusted me to finish it off there and I missed it by an inch again.”
Akey didn’t indicate who would be starting next week against San Jose State but did state that practice would be closed off again to media and the public so players can focus on next Saturday’s task instead of reminiscing about Saturday’s loss.
Justin Veltung, Armauni Johnson and Carter all left the game with minor injuries, which have yet to be evaluated.
After falling behind two touchdowns, the mood in the Kibbie Dome was dampened yet again when wide receiver Marsel Posey left the game on a stretcher after running into the East end zone wall. The Vandals extended their current losing streak to four games, after dropping the Homecoming game to La. Tech 24-11 on Saturday.
“Very disappointed,” coach Robb Akey said. “The goal coming into this game was to get a winning streak started, getting ourselves to play the football that we can play and that certainly didn’t happen today.”
A defensive battle between the WAC opponents saw only 15 points scored in the first half and the only touchdown came from La. Tech’s Jay Dudley ran back an interception.
The Vandal defense proved a force to be reckoned with and late in the second quarter when defensive end Andre Ferguson brought down La. Tech running back Lennon Creer in the end zone for a safety.
Nevertheless, quarterback Brian Reader and the offense weren’t able to get things rolling and Idaho’s only other first half points came from a Trey Farquhar field goal.
“Some things weren’t falling all the way, I put a lot of this blame on myself, I need to play better, the team needs to play better,” Reader said. “The defense did a great job today, when they make stops we need to put points on the board. So once we start putting points on the board we’ll be a lot better off.”
Justin Veltung would finish with Idaho’s only touchdown, which came from a 81-yard punt return that saw the junior juke a few Bulldogs before burning down to the end zone to close the gap and leave La. Tech with a 13-point cushion.
Reader attempted to connect with Posey for the two-point conversion but the junior was unable to hold on and ran through the end zone into a set of curtains covering a metal wall. An ambulance and stretcher were brought onto the field but Posey’s status is yet to be fully determined.
“It looks very positive right now. He woke up and was fully able to move arms and legs so that’s very positive,” Akey said.
Less positive was Reader’s passing game, which took a turn for the worst as the senior went 19 for 47, completing 40 percent of his passes while throwing for three interceptions.
Though Reader had 244 passing yards, the inability to finish off drives led to 11 punts from Bobby Cowan.
“Losing four games in a row now, confidence starts to get lower and lower and lower especially after a game like that,” Reader said. “There’s no reason why that confidence can’t go back up, personally it’s got to go back up, as a leader on this team I have to show confidence.”
The Vandals’ rushing game was nearly inexistent and though running back Ryan Bass was in full uniform, the Arizona State transfer didn’t see any action. Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey combined for 65 rushing yards on 20 carries, averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry.
The Bulldogs didn’t exactly have an offensive field day, and finished with 353 offensive yards. 18-year-old quarterback Nick Isham was sacked three times and was 25 for 39 with 163 passing yards.
La. Tech found a hole in the Vandals’ run defense and freshman running back Hunter Lee averaged almost five yards per carry, concluding with 135 rushing yards while Lennon Creer rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries.
Linebacker Korey Toomer tallied two sacks and 10 tackles but despite another strong defensive showing, frustration lingers.
“There’s always going to be frustration, but what we do on defense is rally around our offense, we’re going to pat them on the back and tell them to come on,” Toomer said. “We’re going to get them back on the field every time, that’s the way our defense is. We execute and we go out there and get them back on the field, that’s our job.”
The offense hasn’t scored in regulation for two games now and Akey welcomed the idea of giving sophomore quarterback Taylor Davis playing time in the wake of Reader’s current slump.
Idaho travel to Las Cruces, N.M. next weekend for a 5:00 P.M. match-up with WAC foe New Mexico State.
University of Idaho (1-3, 0-1 WAC) vs. University of Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
October 1,2011 3:30 P.M. ET, 12:30 P.T. - Scott Stadium/Charlottesville, VA.
TV/Radio coverage- ESPN3, Vandals Xtra
Idaho- The defense didn’t show up last weekend against Fresno State but coach Akey says they WILL in fact make the trip to Charlottesville. Problems within the secondary need to be resolved but Akey was clear that the D-line, who only have two sacks on the season, will need to “get off Gilligan’s Island” and pressure interception-prone quarterback Michael Rocco. Offensively, the Vandals will be without wide receiver Preston Davis and running back Ryan Bass once again. Quarterback Brian Reader has thrown just one interception this season and will need to to exploit a struggling Cavalier defense which has allowed 92 points this season and 29 points per game against FBS opponents. Reader told us he hasn’t favored specific receivers during practice this week, but Biletnikoff Award watch list selection Mike Scott leads the team in receptions and has been a rare offensive hot spot for the Vandals this season.
Virginia- The Cavaliers have relied on a thriving rushing attack, led by freshman Kevin Park. In his college debut against William & Mary, Park racked up 114 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns. Park has 282 yards in four games and junior Perry Jones trails closely behind with 255 rushing yards and one touchdown. Virginia’s lack of a consistent passing game may aid the Vandals, who have only allowed four rushing touchdowns this season, two of those coming from Texas A&M All-American Cyrus Gray. If Rocco can overcome the turnover barrier and hit the navy and orange Cavalier jerseys, Idaho’s pass defense may be susceptible to big plays. Nevertheless, Virginia have only thrown for two touchdowns this year. The Cavaliers’ D-line has recorded eight sacks this season and will penetrate a mediocre Vandal O-line.
Other game notes:
- Idaho has never met UVA or for that matter, has never travelled to the state of Virginia in program history.
- The Cavaliers have only faced active WAC teams twice, losing to Fresno State and beating San Jose State.
- The Vandals’ current roster has no Virginia natives or players from bordering states.
- This will be the first time Idaho has played an active member of the ACC.
- Idaho have lost 23 straight games against schools from current BCS conferences, the last win came against Washington State in 2000 under head coach Tom Cable.
The line- Virginia by 17
VN final analysis- On paper, Virginia look to be the stronger team but the Vandal faithful have yet to see the offense, defense and special teams come together at the same time. The 50,000 fans in Charlottesville will play a significant role and the Cavs will take it by no more than two touchdowns.