Idaho coach Robb Akey was short and succinct about last Saturday’s game at North Carolina. After all, the Vandals did get blown out in every sense of the term, coming home with shields battered after a 66-0 loss.
“Obviously we didn’t play well, and we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity. They jumped off fast, it got ugly, it got out of control. Thank God it’s over, it’s history, we’re back home,” Akey said.
That’s the gist of what he had to say about the game. Instead, the coach used the news conference to push his attention to the future – A homecoming match-up between the FBS’ two newest Independent hopefuls. The New Mexico State Aggies are in the same position as Idaho, as the school has announced its intention to explore the independence route the same as Idaho. In fact, the schools are planning on playing a home and home next season – as in playing twice in one year.
As the athletic directors of the two schools work to finalize scheduling contracts that will allow both to stay afloat as FBS programs, it’s the head coaches that will work to solve the more immediate problem on the field.
Idaho sits at 0-5 on the year. New Mexico State is 1-4, with its only win against FCS Sacramento State.
“A week ago we’re sitting here in this same news conference talking about looking for a way to make one more play and find a way to make it happen and get ourselves over the top,” Akey said. “That’s the same team that we are. We’re going to make that happen this week.”
Vandal fans should hope so. This just might the most winnable game left on the schedule. Idaho faces four more road contests and it’s two remaining home opponents have a combined 9-1 record (that lone loss is San Jose State’s three point loss at Stanford).
It can’t hurt that it’s also Homecoming week, in which the alumni visiting Moscow for the weekend could help to swell the hurting attendance at the Kibbie Dome.
“It’s homecoming, so why don’t y’all come on home. we’d love to have you and we got space available for you,” Akey said. “We’re all Vandals. And we want to see this team perform well. Obviously we all want the results of celebrating a victory, all singing the fight song. The corner club having a packed house with everybody happy after the game, that’s what we all expect.”
Here are the rest of Akey’s comments:
– TE Taylor Elmo suffered a shoulder injury Saturday, Akey said. It’s not clear if that will make him unavailable on Saturday
– DE Benson Mayowa did not travel to North Carolina with the team, but Akey expects him to be available this weekend.
– MLB Su’a Tuala was able to play Saturday against North Carolina, but the hamstring injury is still a factor
– Also an intriguing storyline is the resignation of New Mexico State President Barbara Couture, who had served as the President of the WAC Board of directors.
On Blackman’s four interceptions: “Do I think that’s characteristic of him in a big game? No. I think it happened on that given day, unfortunately.” “Throw that all on him? I don’t think so. To dissect that North Carolina experience, we don’t need to re-live that.”
On the challenge of keeping the team confident: “I hope that we have our minds ready to come back. That to me is the challenge right now. They don’t need to re-live what took place in north Carolina. We’ve washed that thing away yesterday. We need to pay attention to something we have an effect on. It’s my responsibility and honor to be able to help them find a way to do it and see what they can do, because everybody else is telling us what we can’t do, we don’t need to listen to them.”
On struggles defending the deep ball: “We got to continue to work on technique and work on finishing that better. So that’s the technique of everybody involved,” he said. “The best coverage I’ve ever seen is a quarterback laying on his back.”
On the strength the WAC has shown in the first half of the season: “When we got started with the conference season I felt like anybody could make anything happen within here. Everybody is looking at us saying Idaho’s not going to be in that mix, well don’t count us out. We haven’t started the WAC play yet. But I do think there’s some damn good teams in this conference.”
On DeWayne Walker and NMSU’s similar conf. situation: Akey talked about the time that Walker was in Moscow watching his daughter compete in the WAC track and field championships last spring and the conversations they had about the similar situations they were in.
“We were talking about what goes on…We’re both fighting some similar battles in a lot of ways. He’s a guy I got a lot of respect for,” he said.
On communication between Akey and AD Rob Spear on schedule: “We’ve talked about it quite a bit, since we’ve got thrown in to this in the last couple months now. There’s been a lot of change to it. A lot of finality needs to get set in. We just visited a little more about it last week. Hopefully we can get some contracts secured so we can let everybody know what it is going on there. Some days it looks better than others, some days I’m looking for there to be another change. It’s on a better swing right now.”
Akey also brought up the impact that this situation has on recruiting, while also saying it’s easier to walk into a prospective recruit’s house for a recruiting visit with a new bowl ring as opposed to an old one. Akey said he’s also had some conversations with players that have approached him about Idaho’s situation but that the focus is still on this season.
“Certainly there’s going to be some of my younger guys…that are returning that are going to have some questions and I’m going to be honest with them and answer everything we can,” he said.