Tag Archives: Akey’s Army

Photo Gallery: Vandals vs San Jose State Spartans

5 Dec

The Vandals season ended with more or a glorified whimper than a roar, but an exciting OT victory over the 1-12 San Jose State Spartans certainly gave fans an exciting way to end the season. Photographer Kate Kucharzyk was there along the way and snapped some great shots. Enjoy, and congratulations to all 14 seniors who leave Idaho’s program!

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Keeping the dream alive

21 Nov

Logan, UT — Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow nor sideways rain could put a damper on the University of Idaho Vandal football team, which fought off not only the inclement weather but also the Utah State Aggies to keep their bowl hopes alive in a 28-6 victory on enemy turf.

“We’ve got a football team that had a lot of fun playing the game again and that means a lot,” Akey said. “We’re a wildcard playoff team, we need three, we’ve got one down and two to go.”

Akey took the field in a warm parka, and gas heaters were positioned by both benches to keep the gnawing cold away, as the weather turned progressively worse in Logan. The game kicked off with 40 mile-per-hour gusting winds, which turned quickly to horizontal rain and finally to a blizzard that covered the Merlin-Olson Field.

Idaho wide receiver Eric Greenwood said he was excited to play in such weather, saying he was used to playing in rain and sleet, but football in a full blizzard was new to him.

“When we first came out is started to drizzle, and I’m used to playing in that from western Washington,” Greenwood said. “The snow was kinda different though, I’d never played in snow — I enjoyed it.”

Through it all, the Vandals held tough in a must win game. The Vandals need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible, and  Idaho took steps in the right direction, displaying the kinds of things that have been missing from their game of late.

“That was one of the better defensive performances we’ve had,” said Idaho senior defensive end Aaron Lavarias. “It was a tough stretch we had these past few weeks and I thought (today) we played pretty dang good.”

The Vandals forced turnovers, put pressure on Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel, causing two interceptions and recording one sack, and the Vandals limited the Aggies to 242 total offensive yards.

“That was our game plan going in,” Lavarias said. “We thought he (Borel) was the key to their offense and I thought he get much going tonight — we really executed out game plan well.”

The Vandals got off to a slow start, as the Aggies, playing at home for the last time this year, as well as having a chance to clinch a season-best five-game winning season, brought a fearless effort that overwhelmed the Vandals. Continue reading

photo gallery: Idaho Vandals vs. Boise State

15 Nov

BSU put the smackdown on Idaho, but that didn’t stop photographer Kate Kucharzyk from snapping some sweet shots. Enjoy!

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Mauled at home

8 Nov

The once crowded, electrifyingly-loud Kibbie Dome had fallen mostly silent as the sounds of spectators filing out filled the void of the thousands of empty seats left by disappointed fans.

And the game wasn’t even over yet.

It was a afternoon to forget for the Idaho Vandal football squad, once masters of their home domain, as they gave up an astounding 844 total offensive yards to the Nevada Wolf Pack in a 63-17 loss.

As the team left the field at the end of the fourth quarter, it was with their heads down and in complete silence. For the first time since 2008, 23 consecutive weeks, the Vandals are the owners of a losing 4-5 record.

“Heartbroken,” said senior safety Shiloh Keo, fighting back tears as he was asked to describe his feelings of the game. “I’ve been here for five years and this game meant a lot to me, because this is a team I’ve never been able to beat. Every time I play these guys I feel a big rivalry ’cause there is a talented guy on the other side of the field sharing the same number as I do.”

The talented player wearing No. 10 on the other side of the field was multi-versatile quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who put his whole array of skill on display in turning Idaho’s defense into Swiss cheese with needle-point precision passing.

“It just hurts,” Keo said, “because they did better than we did.” Continue reading

Photo Gallery double-feature: Football and Basketball

7 Nov

Oh boy, was it a rough night for Vandal fans yesterday. We’ve been wracking our brain to spin some sort of positive on Idaho’s embarrassing blow-out loss to Nevada on home, but when you give up an astounding 844 yards of total offense…well, it’s slim pickings. At least quarterback Nathan Enderle didn’t throw any interceptions, and had a sweet 75-yard bomb to Justin Veltung for an Idaho touchdown, but beyond that it was all downhill.

Some more quick stats and facts:

  • Idaho returned the ball down the length of the field twice, compiling 155 yards, but each return was followed by a last-second fumble, which Nevada recovered nullifying Idaho’s drive.
  • The 844 offensive yards are a school record for Nevada. The sad part? It could have been worse, as Nevada chose to ease off the gas in the final quarter. No joke, from the sidelines, it could have easily been 100-17.
  • Nevada had three rushers with 100+ yards….and one of them wasn’t Kaepernick!
  • Speaking of the talented QB, Kaepernick went 20-30 with five touchdown passes. With 20 completions and five touchdown passes, our intricate knowledge of basic arithmetic tells us that every four passes Kaepernick threw a touchdown. W…O…W
  • Idaho’s running game averaged a laughable 3.6 yards per carry.
  • Idaho dropped to below .500, they are now 4-5, for the first time since 2008.

We’ll have a broader overview of Idaho’s loss Monday after we chat with Akey and the team has some time to review the film. For now, however, our resident photographer Kate Kucharzyk snapped some shots of the Vandals loss.

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Fans hoping for a post-game bummer cure were sorely disappointed if they followed the men’s basketball team’s game against LCSC. The Vandals had trouble closing out the NANI school, missing shots and assignments all night and leaving the game in doubt until the final buzzer. Idaho won, but it wasn’t a pretty win by any standard. As much as it pains us to say it, should the Vandals, who shot 34 percent in the second half and finished the game with less than a 45 percent success rate from the floor against a team which it was expected to dominate, are looking at a long season if they continue this style of play heading into the season opener against Easter Oregon.

A sloppy game didn’t stop Kate from snapping some nice-looking shots of the men in action, which we share with you. Enjoy.

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The roundup: Nov 5

5 Nov

Morning to one and all. It’s…well, it’s actually a pretty darn cruddy-looking day on the palouse, which is perfect reason to get inside and enjoy some women’s basketball action! The Vandal women are back in action after a nine-month hiatus and hit the hardwood in the Memorial Gym tonight at 6 p.m. for their first and only exhibition game of the season against Lewis-Clark State College. Be there!

Plenty of news abroad about the Vandals, mainly in football. Enjoy Vandal fans!



Men’s basketball

That’s all for another round-up folks. Get out and support your Vandals this weekend, grab your Akey bobble head dolls form the football game, and come cheer on basketball!

Vandal defense must be ready with Kaepernick, Nevada calling

5 Nov

Idaho continues its three-game gauntlet this week, coming home after a disappointing loss to Hawaii on enemy turf while hoping to reverse their fortunes against the Nevada Wolf Pack this Saturday.

The month of November hasn’t been kind to the Vandals. Idaho has lost 17 straight games in November, dating back to a Nov. 6 victory over Arkansas State in Pullman.

Have trouble remembering the last time Idaho defeated Arkansas State? It was in 2004, when Idaho was still a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

Saturday’s game is also a crossroad for the Vandals in the sense that Idaho hasn’t dipped below .500 since 2008, a record coach Robb Akey is proud of.

“I take pride in that and our players take pride in that,” Akey said. “We need to win this game to keep us above there.”

Not helping Idaho’s cause are the upcoming games in November. The Vandals host No. 25 Nevada and No. 2 Boise State, as well as traveling to Utah State and Fresno State. The Vandals lost to all four teams last year while going 8-5, but Akey isn’t getting too hung up on the past.

“I’m glad that the expectations of our football program are back to being strong once again — I didn’t like it when we were expected to not to be able to do anything,” Akey said. “There is no way, nobody out there anywhere in the world that can have stronger goals, desires and expectations for us than we do.
Nobody else knows what we are capable of.”
Continue reading

Injury to JoJo Dickson mars Vandal victory

25 Oct

The thunderous crowd at the Kibbie Dome had fallen silent and on the field, all that could be heard were the anguished cries of senior safety Shiloh Keo and junior linebacker Robert Siavii and a stream of verbal outbursts from Vandal defenders.

In the middle of it all lay senior Jo Jo Dickson, writhing in pain, clutching his fractured left leg.

On the previous play, Dickson had made a block for Idaho before being side-swiped by New Mexico State’s Kenny Turner on a late hit that sent Dickson to the turf.

Turner was whistled for a personal foul, but the damage had been done. Dickson was quickly attended by medical staff, put on a stretcher and rushed to Gritman Medical Hospital for surgery on an injury that will likely end the senior’s career as a Vandal.

Dickson’s final gesture in Vandal uniform – a wave to his teammates and the crowd in the Kibbie Dome, which erupted in cheers of ‘Jo Jo, Jo Jo’.

The single play overshadowed a huge night that saw Idaho’s offense build a 31-0 lead early on and, in large part due to the stifling play of Idaho’s defense, defeat the NMSU Aggies 37-14.

“It feels good, but it feels bad at the same time — it’s really hard to swallow,” said a visibly shaken Siavii, who is Dickson’s roommate. “He’s like my older brother. I’ve lived with him for two years. To see him out of the field really hurts me and just gave me an extra push to be even stronger.”

Following the play, Idaho coach Robb Akey knew of the dire situation of his teammates, calling them together and consoling Keo and Siavii.

“I saw some rage and a lot of hurt,” Akey said. “They lost one of their brothers during the course of the game today. You have no idea what kind of an impact that had. The guys overcame that and played hard and played well for the remainder of the game.”

The loss of Dickson is a staggering blow for Idaho. Not only did Dickson provide steady senior leadership on the field, he was Idaho’s fourth-leading defensemen, recording 34 total tackles and one interception in seven games.

“It’s really disheartening,” Siavii said. “But the whole defense — we’re strong. We have strong backup and we feel we are going to get our team back together again.”

For the third time this season, Idaho used strong-arm defense to clamp down on the opposition. The Vandals forced numerous three-and-out situations against the Aggies, who were looking for their first WAC win after entering the game with a woeful 1-5 record, and didn’t let the Aggies get on the board until the game was well out of reach.

“I think we got to comfortable,” said receiver Maurice Shaw. “We came out strong, but didn’t come out with the same desire and intensity after the half.”

NMSU got their first touchdown with seven second in the half on a 17-yard passing play, and struck late once again with 19 second remaining in the game.

“Defensively, I thought our guys continued to play pretty well,” Akey said. “I don’t like the score we gave up there at the end. We learned a lesson from that, but it’s an inexpensive one, ‘cause all it cost us was points on the board.”

Idaho’s offense was, once again, powered by Nate Enderle, who threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns. The Aggies came into the game being in the WAC cellar in regards to defense, and Idaho capitalized.


Idaho’s offensive cause was helped greatly by the return of Maurice Shaw, who returned from a one-game suspension and led the Vandal receivers with 73 yards and a touchdown reception. Shaw made the most of his six catches, including a Randy Moss impersonation in the end zone, as Shaw reached out and pulled in a one-handed pass for the score.

Idaho’s rushing game, however, is still lagging. Idaho brought up 88 rushing yards on 27 carries against New Mexico State. Several lapse in defense also cost the Vandals, who gave up a big NMSU touchdown pass that was waved off on an illegal formation on the part of the Aggies.

Akey said the squad will need to overcome the loss of Jo Jo and prepare for next weekend, when the Vandals travel to Hawaii to take on the Warriors.

Hawaii has been the surprise in the WAC, and are unbeaten in WAC play with a 4-0 record. Akey aknoladged it will be a tough battle, but said his squad will be ready for it when the time comes. For now, the focus is on another victory at home.

“We got our first WAC win today, and we are still undefeated in the Dome,” Akey said. “We’ve got another winning streak started.”



Photo Gallery: Idaho Vandals vs. UNLV Rebels

21 Sep

In case you missed Idaho’s victory over the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels, Argonaut photographer Kate Kucharzyk and Nick Groff were on hand to capture all the big plays. They were kind enough to share what they saw through the lens with us.

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Money, injuries and good defense

14 Sep

Idaho takes away the good, the bad and the ugly from Nebraska game

With a 38-17 loss to Nebraska and Idaho’s 21st consecutive loss to a BCS team behind them, Idaho coach Robb Akey said the team is ready to move on to the next game.
Akey was adamant about defending the chance to test the team’s mettle against high-calibur opponents.

“It’s great for our football team when we do it one time (a season),” Akey said. “To play a BCS opponent is an important thing for us. Having an opponent like this is a damn good thing because we are going to play somebody like that when we get to the bowl — you play one of the better teams in the country in bowl games.”

The $800,000 paycheck the university collected from visiting Nebraska doesn’t put a damper on the situation either.

Idaho received the largest payout in school history this weekend, dwarfing the previous $600,000 payout for traveling to the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona. Idaho schedules one big away game per year, with the funds propping up the athletic department’s $15 million budget.

Akey said the team can take away positives — mainly a defensive stand that limited No. 6 Nebraska to one touchdown in the second half — as learning points from the game moving forward.

“We had four goal line stands against that outfit, and two of them were in sudden change senarios — that’s big,” Akey said. “That is something that we can build from. If we can have goal line stands against those guys, I think we have a chance to turn this into a decent outfit.” Continue reading

Nine seconds too long

11 Sep

LINCOLN, Neb. — An entire week of preparation for the Vandals evaporated in nine seconds.

Down by only 17 points, senior quarterback Nathan Enderle’s arm failed him, his receivers dried up, and in the span of nine seconds of possession, the Nebraska Cornhuskers put up 21 of their 38 points in a 38-17 win over the Vandals today, giving Nebraska its 500th home win.

“I guess everybody was right, we couldn’t beat those guys today,” said Idaho coach Robb Akey. “We gave the ball away, interceptions for touchdowns. That’s a damn good football team over there — they are ranked sixth in the country for a reason — and against a football team like that you can’t turn the ball over that many times. That really killed us.”

Over 85,000 fans, more than five times the capacity of the Kibbie Dome, saluted the Vandals as the team took the field following a performance of Idaho’s fight song by the University of Nebraska pep band. Enderle, who is from North Platte, Nebraska, received the warmest greetings from fans excited to see their home quarterback again.

On the field,  the Cornhuskers showed Enderle little love, blitzing Idaho’s offensive line and putting up seven sacks on Enderle and fellow quarterback Brian Reader.

When not on his back, Enderle was busy running and dodging from closing linesmen. In the rare occasion Enderle got time in the pocket, his receivers would be well defended and covered.

Akey said the Nebraska defense covered Idaho’s receivers, but also said he expected more from the team on the offense.

“We’ve got to do more than put 17 points up,” Akey said. “If there is an interception for a touchdown so be it. Our defense goes back on the field and they have the opportunity to get an interception. We have the opportunity to create fumbles and our specialty teams have the opportunity to produce — we win as a team, and when things don’t go well, we lose as a team.”

Continue reading

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Morning-After-H-Bowl Edition

31 Dec

BOISE — The snow is falling again on the Treasure Valley, and we’re at the Boise Airport waiting for our flight home after a wonderful weekend for Vandal sports.

To recap:

There’s news and notes aplenty, so let’s get right to them.

  • Reporters and pundits across the country are calling the Humanitarian Bowl one of the best games of the year. As CNATI.com’s C. Trent Rosecrans wrote, “The Humanitarian Bowl: exactly why I’ll never complain about too many bowl games.”

Vandal Football Gameday: Humanitarian Bowl

30 Dec

BOISE — In a snow-covered Treasure Valley, we’re just about six hours away from Idaho’s second-ever bowl game. The Vandals will take on the Bowling Green Falcons in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl at 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time, and we’ll be right there in Bronco Stadium with the call.

After the best season in a decade, Akey’s Army wants to prove its early success was no fluke, and uphold conference pride by becoming the first Western Athletic Conference team to win a bowl game this season.

Vandal Nation Live will have all the action for you, with pregame coverage starting at 1 p.m. Pacific, 2 Mountain. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Pacific/2:30 Mountain. We’ll have scoring updates on the Vandal Nation Twitter as well.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live: The Humanitarian Bowl!

Pregame Roundup

  • Merlin Verlin’s Vandals got the bowl festivities off to a great start with a 19-point victory over Lewis-Clark State in front of 4,111 fans in Qwest Arena last night. We’ve got the game story, and Sandra Kelly of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News chimes in with her take.
  • Kelly also says to expect fireworks when the Vandals and the Falcons clash today.
  • Sports Illustrated writer Bill Trocchi breaks down the H-Bowl, predicting a 3-point Bowling Green victory in a no-defense shootout.

Familiar territory, unfamiliar results: Idaho’s comeback fails

8 Nov

Down big at the half in three of their last four victories, the Idaho Vandals have become known for clutch plays and huge comebacks. But tonight in the Kibbie Dome against Fresno State, Idaho finally found itself all out of miracles.

NCAA-leading rusher Ryan Mathews went 77 yards to the house on the opening play, the Vandals’ offense sputtered early and the Bulldogs held off another valiant last-minute comeback effort to beat Idaho, 31-21.

Fresno State (6-3, 4-1 WAC) opened with Mathews’ longest run of the season and didn’t let up until the game was well in hand. The Bulldogs ruthlessly picked apart Idaho’s defense, scoring on four of their five first-half drives to open a 24-0 lead at the break. Quarterback Ryan Colburn didn’t miss a single pass all night, connecting on 14 of 14 attempts for 159 yards and a touchdown.

With just 8 minutes left in the game, the Vandals (7-3, 4-2 WAC) looked poised to make another miracle comeback. Fresno State’s lead was cut to 16 and Idaho was driving deep into Bulldog territory looking to make it a one-score game. But tailback DeMaundray Woolridge coughed up the ball near the red zone and Pat Hill’s squad was able to burn enough clock on the ensuing possession to seal the victory.

Idaho coach Robb Akey said his squad dug itself much too deep of a hole to climb out of.

“I’m disappointed, very disappointed. We did not play good football tonight,” Akey said. “A good football team can’t spot another good football team. We can’t let them get in front of us that much that early in the ball game.”

The Vandals were forced to start Brian Reader at quarterback for the first time. First-stringer Nathan Enderle was sidelined with a bruised rotator cuff suffered against Louisiana Tech. Reader finished strongly, ending with 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12-25 passing, along with his first rushing touchdown.

But the game’s opening half was a rough introduction to the starting job for Reader, who completed just two passes for 29 yards in the first 30 minutes of play. Idaho’s drive chart looked thusly: missed field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt. The Vandals managed just 118 yards of offense to the Bulldogs’ 248.

To be fair, not all the blame falls on Reader — several catchable passes were dropped or mishandled by the Vandals’ receiving corps, which appeared to be struggling to come to grips with his passing style. The result, however, was the same: incompletions, stalled drives and a zero on the scoreboard for the half. That’s the first time this season Idaho has failed to score in the first half, and only the second scoreless half of the year.

“We had a lot of penalties and mistakes in the first half,” Reader said. “There was nothing unexpected, we knew what was coming, we just weren’t executing.”

In the second half, Reader appeared to get in sync with his receivers, connecting on 10 of 15 attempts, including 14- and 69-yard touchdown strikes to Max Komar and Maurice Shaw. Idaho’s defense also stiffened up, allowing just a single touchdown from the Bulldogs’ offense. But the damage was already done.

Akey praised Reader’s performance at quarterback, rejecting the idea that he was to blame for the offense’s slow start.

“No, I think Brian did a damn good job. He got himself going, took some shots, made some plays and ran in for a touchdown,” Akey said. “Our troubles were execution, and it didn’t have anything to do with the quarterback.”

Defensive end Aaron Lavarias, who again faced reporters’ questions about the Vandals’ struggles on defense, made no excuses for his unit’s performance. He credited the Bulldogs’ powerhouse offense for simply playing better than the Vandals could handle.

“Some of the young guys out there might be struggling to adjust to the speed of the game. You can’t really replicate Fresno State with our scout team,” Lavarias said. “We played really bad football for the first half, and that’s not offset by the good football we played later on.”

The Vandals head to Boise on Saturday for their final road game of the year, a renewal of the intra-state rivalry against the Boise State Broncos. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Mountain time, 12:30 Pacific.

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Nov. 5, 2009

5 Nov

We’re ramping up hoops coverage here at Vandal Nation — but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about football.

Idaho’s Chelsea Small became the first Vandal ever named to the soccer All-WAC First Team. She led the WAC in shots with 101, scoring eight goals and adding four assists to lead the Vandals.

Now for your morning links.




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