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.
Here are Robb Akey’s comments on the week:
– Akey said starting MLB Su’a Tuala left Saturday’s game with a hamstring issue. His availability against North Carolina will be a game time decision, he said. Matt Willis will be in the conversation there if Tuala can’t go.
– Starting OLB Conrad Scheidt will “probably going to be out for quite a while,” Akey said. He has a fractured bone in his face.
– S Trey Williams will be day to day. He sprained an ankle on the last play of the game against Wyoming. Akey hopes to have him available.
– The team will leave Thursday for North Carolina, instead of the typical Friday departure. Akey said it helped Idaho last year against Virginia.
On the game: “It was a hell of a football game, one hell of a football game. Our players fought their every eleven tails off, and they battled. And we were one play away, from sitting here talking about how happy we are we finally got that monkey off of our back, we finally got ourselves rolling and we’re excited because we won a dog gone game.”
“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,”
“We ran out of time, we weren’t able to win the game. Is that good enough? No. Was that improvement from the first week? Yes. That’s what we call growth and that’s what I have to pay attention to.”
“I like the way our guys prepared to play, I like the way they come in, we flew around the field and we made plays. We played the whole damn game with expectations of winning, and you saw our guys carry themselves that way.”
“We needed to make one more play, is the way I look at it. That’s monster growth from the first game, in regards to just doing things better. Is 0-4 good? Absolutely not. There’s nothing good about that. You play this to win. But I have to focus them on, hey, this is what’s getting better…this is why you need to lay it on the line, one more time.”
(And from later in the news conference): “I’ll let everybody else have their fun with the negative crap, and there’s plenty of it out there. We’re going to focus on this and by focusing on that we have the opportunity to build up more.”
On how Blackman is playing: “I think he’s come a long ways in a lot of ways. His decision making is pretty strong, for the most part. I keep working with him on his focus. I love the swagger and the confidence that comes with Dom. It also needs to be focused and channeled. He makes a great play, we make a great play as an offense and he’s hooting and hollering, that’s great but let’s get focused let’s get the next play ready to go.”
“The thing that I appreciate with Dominique is if he’s made a mistake he’s understood what it was and how to fix it,”
On the difference from last year’s demeanor of handling adversity: “This is a completely different team than we had a year ago. Are we better at responding to it? Yeah. Do we need to be better at it (now)? Yeah.”
On North Carolina: “They’re a good football team. Boy, they accelerate. They’re gonna run as many plays as they possibly can…They are capable of getting a stretch play executed and lined back up and already snapped the ball again in 13 seconds…They’re one of the fast-paced offenses and they do it well.”
“They’re gonna knock out the sun with their offensive line. The small guy is (6-foot-4), 300 pounds. That’s the little fella. They’re big, they’re athletic, they’re damn good. Their quarterback is a good player and they make plays.”
On Idaho’s problems defending the deep ball: “We got to do a better job of making plays on the ball, cut big plays to minimum and we can do that by making plays on the ball, in the air, that high hanging ball and make plays on those. Those have an opportunity to be our ball too, and let that be the case. Get it knocked away, get it intercepted, get the guy sealed out of there.”
On travel: “They call stuff jetlag for a reason, and that’s for people that aren’t going to play a physical game. But that’s where the game is going to be kicked off and we have to get our butts there on time and we will.”
On the team leaving Thursday for North Carolina, instead of the typical Friday take off: “We put a lot of research in to whether that was worth it…the research came out that was the right thing to do. It was very obvious that was the right thing to do, I could see that the way our guys carried themselves (last year against Virginia).”
On the crowd at the Kibbie Dome: It makes a huge difference. If our dome is packed it’s as loud as can be. We were just at LSU, I’ve been at Ohio State with 110,000 people. (If) our dome full, with the students there and the fans fired up about it is louder than any of those. Because it’s all right there, it’s magnified, because it’s coming right back off of the roof and it’s there…There are games I come out here and the ear I didn’t have a headset on is ringing more than the one from the coaches screaming in that one.
“We’re capable of that being the case. I understand completely well that the fans want to come watch a winning team. Now we’ve got a great base, and I want those people to understand, I appreciate that. There’s a crew that are here every single week, and I love them to death and our players do too and it means everything to them.”
“I would love to see this placed packed at all points and time. We’ve got that ability just in our population from Couer D’Alene to Lewiston…We can fill this place up every week. And our players are working their tails off, did any of us like the outcome of the Wyoming? No. But you can’t tell me that wasn’t an exciting football game.”
On Trey Farquhar, who was 3-3 against Wyoming: “I’m still on his butt about kickoffs, sometimes his kickoffs are like my (golf) driving, you’re not quite sure where they’re gonna end up…I won’t hesitate to send him out there. We lost yards in overtime and threw him out there knowing we were going to have points on the board.”