Idaho football interim coach Jason Gesser and Athletic Director Rob Spear discuss the replacement of former coach Robb Akey, expectations for the remainder of the 2012 season and the Vandals’ coaching outlook in the future.
There wasn’t a ton addressed this Monday at the news conference, following a 38-7 loss at Texas State which lacked any real storyline from the Vandal perspective. Idaho appeared to get out of the game without any injuries of note, as well. Since this was a shorter news conference than most the format for this post will change a little bit, and we’ll just jump right in to the comments from Akey.
On the game itself, it was missed opportunities and the inability to string together consistency in all three phases in the game is what Idaho coach Robb Akey lamented about Saturday’s blowout loss at Texas State. Idaho had gone in to the half down 14-7, scoring the last touchdown of the half. Texas State then scored 24 unanswered in the second half.
“It was a game of opportunity we had plenty of,” he said. “It was a one score game for a long, long period of time. That tells me we had opportunities in all three phases of the game to match the score and put ourselves up. That’s what we didn’t get done.”
Idaho Men’s basketball held its first organized team practice of the fall Friday evening on campus. We caught up with coach Don Verlin afterwards, along with G/F Mike McChristian and F Stephen Madison, both of whom figure to play large roles with the team this year.
Verlin touched a bit more on Kyle Barone, who was suspended indefinitely on Monday and was not present at practice Friday night. Verlin said he can’t set a specific timetable on when he would return.
“What Kyle has to do (to return to the program) is between him and I. Obviously I’m very disappointed in Kyle, that kind of behavior is unacceptable in our program,” Verlin said. “But he is one of our family members. We love him and we’re going to do everything we can to get him on the court as quickly as we can, when he does the things that I think are necessary for him to come back.”
Other information of note from Verlin include:
- Verlin said he’d be surprised if 6-foot-8 CC transfer Marcus Bell doesn’t lead the team in rebounding.
- Verlin said starting spots, most notably in the backcourt, haven’t been handed out yet. Those position battles should carry on throughout fall practice and scrimmages.
Here are the (mostly) raw video interviews we got tonight. Please forgive the quality on the Verlin segment, mid-term chaos didn’t have us as prepared with the technology.
It wasn’t quite ideal, it wasn’t perfect, and it surely wasn’t pretty, but dangit, it was a win.
That’s about the attitude Idaho coach Robb Akey had Monday when addressing the media about Idaho’s 26-18 victory over New Mexico State Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.
“There’s so much more that we can do well. We’re going to finish things better…You’re going to continue to have the ability to grow and build,” Akey said.
New Mexico State is a pretty bad team, and they played like it. Now six games through the season the Aggies are the only team in the WAC without a victory over an FBS school, providing both Texas-San Antonio and Idaho with WAC-opener victories.
Idaho also took advantage of playing the struggling Aggies to push the ball down the field in the passing game with varying success. Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackman said after the game the plan was to open the playbook up because the team felt the North Carolina game exposed Idaho’s over-use of the short passing game.
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.
All throughout the fall the emphasis of this Idaho football team was supposed to be finish. From the t-shirts, to throwing four fingers in the air during the fourth quarter of every game, and practice for that matter. Akey even said he used the word over 700 times during his media sessions at WAC media days.
But it was the same song and dance for the Vandals, relinquishing a fourth quarter lead to the Wyoming Cowboys and falling in overtime. Quarterback Dominique Blackman’s fumble on the one yard early in the fourth quarter seemed to be the turning point. It turned an opportunity for Idaho to go up two touchdowns in to an opportunity that Wyoming seized to tie the game.
With Idaho sitting at 0-4 for the first time since Nick Holt was the head coach (2005) it would imaginably be hard to stay positive, but that’s what Robb Akey is choosing to do.
“We’re one outcome of a play away, one inch away and I got to make sure our guys see that. I’m sick for our players to not have the win coming out of that game…We played that game well,” Akey said. “You look at the growth that our team has made and that’s what I’m going to focus at.”
Those positives Akey focused on was mainly on the offensive side of the ball. The offense totaled over 500 yards of offense and scored a season high 37 points, which is more than Idaho had scored the previous three games combined (30).
Those positives will need to continue for Idaho from here. They’ll play on the road at North Carolina next week before coming home to face New Mexico State at the Kibbie Dome during Homecoming weekend.
For 30 minutes last Saturday night in Baton Rouge the Vandals seemed to be, somewhat, going tit for tat with the No. 2 (or No. 3, depending on your preferred poll) team in the nation. Twice the Vandals pulled to within a touchdown in the first half after LSU had ample opportunities to put the game away. Twice the Vandals battled back and made a statement. Both the 94-yard interception return from Gary Walker that set up Dominique Blackman’s first touchdown pass of the game to make it 14-7, as well as the seven-play 81-yard drive capped off with a 22 yard touchdown pass to Jahrie Level that made it 21-14.
Unfortunately for Idaho, football games are sixty minutes.
Idaho went in to the half down 28-14, but 35 unanswered second half points from the Tigers gave everybody the game that was pretty much expected.
“There are things within the game that we’re going to build from. Battles within the battle that if you can do it part of the time I think you have an opportunity to do it all the time,” coach Robb Akey said. “I’m not big on saying ‘this was great’ because if it was great the score wouldn’t have read like it did.” Continue reading
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.
“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.”
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.
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
Coach Robb Akey made the final addition to his staff yesterday bringing on experienced running backs coach Wayne Moses. Moses coached last year at UCLA and has had stops with the St. Louis Rams, Stanford, USC, Washington and California.
“Coach Akey and I go way back in terms of recruiting against eachother. I have a lot of respect for who he is as a coach, so when this opportunity came up I was excited about it,” he said of the opportunity.
Idaho is a bit of a different environment than what Moses has been used to, but having played and coached at Washington he has familiarity with the pacific Northwest. He doesn’t seem to think there will be much of a difference being at a smaller school.
“It’s football. Field is 100-yards long, we run the power play here the same we ran it in the Pac-12,” he said.
Oh, and President Duane Nellis was at practice today. That was neat.
As for day two of practice, we know everybody wants to know about the quarterback battle so we’ll get right in to it along with other notes from the offensive side of the ball.
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to speak with the daughter of one of the most legendary players in Vandal football history – Jerry Kramer.
His daughter, Alicia Kramer, is spearheading the effort to get him on the 2013 ballot for and to be ultimately inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Alicia is joined by the University of Idaho and the Gallatin Public Affairs group based out of Boise in these efforts. Heck, even Boise State University has joined in the effort with this press release(curiously enough with not a single mention of him playing for Idaho).
The resume for the former Vandal and Green Bay Packers offensive guard is an impressive one. He spent his entire 11-year playing career with the Packers, earning three Pro bowl selections, five All-Pro selections, helped the Packers win the first two ever Super Bowls and was named to the NFL’s 50th anniversary team. Coincidentally enough, Jerry Kramer is the only member of that anniversary team that is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
With that kind of resume there is a general assumption that Jerry Kramer is already in the Hall of Fame. Alicia cited an instance when former Vandal Mark Sclereth sent out a tweet in support of the campaign, after which people would come back to her and say “Wait, your father isn’t in the Hall of Fame?”
Instead, if nominated, this will be the 11th attempt to send Jerry Kramer’s legacy to Canton, OH.
Washington State announced Tuesday that it has named Ray Lopes assistant men’s basketball coach. Lopes had previously served as associate head coach for the Vandals under Don Verlin.
Though Lopes declined comment to Vandal Nation on the move, Verlin said that Lopes approached him less than two weeks ago to ask him if he could pursue an offer from Washington State coach Ken Bone. Verlin encouraged him to do so.
“Our business is a networking one…I always encourage my assistants if they think they can better themselves, they need to make the best decision for themselves and their families. I’ve never been a person to hold my guys back,” Verlin said.
Verlin said while he didn’t necessarily anticipate a shake up in his coaching staff, it wasn’t a total surprise.
The Idaho women were blown out by the Fresno State Bulldogs in the quarterfinal round of the WAC Tournament. The Vandals were unable to get any offensive pressure in the first half, which put them in a hole they were unable to recover from. Photos courtesy of Ilya Pinchuk