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Idaho Men’s basketball tips off fall practice – Video interviews

12 Oct

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.

Forward Stephen Madison fights his way to the rim.
Courtesy | Spencer Farrin

“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.


Idaho Men’s basketball tips off fall practice

Better Know a Foe: Week 7 – Everything’s bigger in Texas (State)

11 Oct

Idaho takes to the road this week to San Marcos, Texas, home of newly minted FBS program Texas State. The Bobcats will enter the Sun Belt next year, though for now the focus is on its debut and only season in the WAC. The program has been disappointing as a whole, losing three of its last four (the one win a close one over FCS Sam Houston State).

The Bobcats came out of the gate strong ravaging the Houston Cougars in Houston, though Houston has proved not to be the team it was a year ago under Kevin Sumlin. A close game against Nevada, only to turn around and get blown out against New Mexico, leave Texas State somewhat of an anomaly.

The Idaho starting quarterback has confidence erupting from his veins. Can he turn it in to a road victory?

One thing is for sure, the match-up Saturday will be a measuring stick for both programs. Idaho coach Robb Akey is serious about Idaho’s “new” WAC season. As far as he is concerned Idaho is 1-0, undefeated towards his goal of winning the final WAC football championship.

Idaho was able to take advantage of one struggling program last week with a win over New Mexico State, albeit ugly. If Idaho wants its first road win of the season the ugly mistakes are going to have to be cleaned up. Idaho needs to learn how to string together consistency throughout a game and learn how to take hold of momentum.

Idaho pulling out a victory against New Mexico State was never in doubt by the third quarter, but failing to score a touchdown in the second half allowed the Aggies to pull within one possession with under two minutes left to go in the game. That kind of lack of killer instinct will doom Idaho in the future, as we’ve already seen in the loss to Wyoming.

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Monday Akey-Isms – Week 6 – “It’s homecoming, so why don’t y’all come on home”

1 Oct

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:

Quick Hits: 

– 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.

Better Know a Foe – week 3 at LSU edition – Geaux Time

13 Sep

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.

The LSU mascot, Mike VI. He’s cute.

“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.”

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Coach Akey speaks on story lines for Idaho fall football camp

31 Jul

Dominique Blackman(middle) and Taylor Davis(right) are on even ground for the starting QB race heading in to fall, Akey said

Finish. Finish. Finish. Finish. Say that word about 755 more times and you will arrive at how many times coach Robb Akey said that he used the word, or that theme, last week at WAC Media days in Las Vegas.

So come time when the Idaho football team hits the practice field for the first time in the fall, guess what the theme will be?

“I used the finish 759 times just in the media day alone, for an hour and a half. That was talking to cameras. So you can imagine what it’s going to be like talking to these players,” Akey said. “I’m gonna blow a horn they’re gonna know when the last quarter of practice begins for the next 29 practices. They’re gonna finish their dinner plates. We’re gonna finish everything.”

As he did during media days last week, Akey once again compared last years team to the 2009 version that won the Humanitarian Bowl. Last season the Vandals lost four games by one possession or less, four games that if swung the other way could have made Idaho bowl eligible. In contrast, in 2009 the Vandals won four regular season games by a touchdown or less. Five including the bowl victory.

“We made the play in the bowl season, we didn’t find a way to make the play last year. That is the bottom line. There is that fine a line between winning and not winning. That is a lot of what we’re paying attention to,” he said.

Idaho will hit the practice field on Thursday, Aug. 2 with their first scrimmage slated to happen on Tuesday, Aug. 7 and there should be story lines galore to follow, including the hotly contested quarterback battle and the health of the offensive line.

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Robb Akey, Idaho, speak at WAC Football media days

26 Jul

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:

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Bringing the heat

18 Apr


After two solid defensive spring scrimmages, Vandal Nation caught up with Idaho defensive coordinator Mark Criner and seniors Aaron Grymes and Rob Siavii. Hear what they have to say about spring practice so far, senior leadership and competition for starting spots.