The Idaho Vandals go on the road to try and fix the losing. There hasn’t been much to cheer about in 2011, but Coach Rob Akey seems to think things can turn around. The Vandals are now 1-5 on the season, but a long road trip just might be what this team needs to find itself and win its first conference game of the season. The New Mexico State Aggies are 2-3 on the season (0-1 in WAC competition), coming off a win over their instate rivals from the MWC, New Mexico. The Lobos, unafraid to play the out of conference Aggies, lost to them 42-28.
Vandal fans can think of a certain instate rival that could learn from the state of New Mexico.
The Aggies have proven that they can put points on the board, while Idaho has struggled to do so in the last 10 quarters of football. Brian Reader continues to struggle, going 19-47 and 3 interceptions in last week’s contest. Not good. Opposing defenses are starting to dare the Vandals to beat them through the air and it’s having its effects on the running game. The Vandals managed just 47 yards on the ground last week against Louisiana Tech in Idaho's own Homecoming game. Basically, the Vandal offense is getting worse as the season wears on. But Coach Akey seems determined to let Reader play through this, so he will head the Vandal offense this Saturday.
This pretty much puts the entire day on Reader’s shoulders.
How he plays is how this game will go on Saturday. If he continues to play like he has, the Vandals will be in for another long and frustrating day on the football field. He has the receivers. Mike Scott, Justin Veltung, Armauni Johnson, Taylor Elmo and Mike LaGrone have all proven effective. The completions just need to be strung together. If that starts happening, it will give Princeton McCarty and Kama Bailey room to run the ball. But as it sits now, the runningbacks are being shut down because the Vandals can’t throw a completion.
The Vandal defense is improving, especially behind the play of linebacker Korey Toomer. In addition, safety Gary Walker and Defensive Team Captain middle linebacker Treshawn Robinson have also provided a spark with their physical play and nose for the ball. But even more importantly, the defensive line has shown improvement, and they are finally getting the push to disrupt opposing quarterbacks. The Vandals need to continue being opportunistic, force some turnovers, and provide the offense field position that allows them to work with a short field.
New Mexico State has a big, physical quaterback in senior Matt Christian (6-3, 223). He’s coming off a 16-for-27 performance that included 296 yards and four touchdown for the Aggies. You couple that with junior runningback Kenny Turner’s 109 yards on 24 carries, and you have a solid, balanced, offensive output. Christian’s favorite targets are senior Taveon Rogers and Todd Lee with a little of 6-foot-2, 175-pound freshman, Austin Franklin sprinkled in. But make no mistake about it, Kenny Turner (5-10, 192) is a large part of their offense, running and catching the football. He has an experienced offensive line paving the way.
Aggie Offensive Line – LT Davonte Wallace (6-4, 272 So.), LG Andrew Kersten (6-6, 305 Jr.), Center Mike Grady (6-3, 306 Sr.), RG Sioli Fakalata (6-3 340 Sr.) RT Aundre McGaskey (6-6, 290 Sr.)
On the defensive side of the ball, the Aggies are led by a senior laden bunch. This group has plenty of experience, and like last week, has some familiar names. The Aggies are led by the defensive backfield which boasts safeties Donyae Coleman (5-10, 187 Sr.), Ben Bradley (5-10, 184 Sr.) and cornerbacks Jonte Green (6-0, 184 Sr.) and Courtney Viney (5-9, 167 Sr.). This group is fast and physical. The linebackers are led by middle linebacker Boyblue Aoelua (5-11, 234, Sr.), and BJ Adolfo (5-11, 224, Jr.), while the defensive line is led by sack master and rush end David Nuimatalolo. Nuimatalolo will be a handful for the Vandals, and he’s as good an end as Idaho will face all season.
Aggie Defensive Line - LE David Nuimatalolo (6-2, 247 Sr.), NT David Mahoney (6-3, 280 Sr.) DT Walton Taumoepeau (6-3, 300 Sr.) RE Pierre Fils (6-3, 240 Sr.)
The University of Idaho needs a win, and it needs it now. It’s gut check time, and the Vandals need to salvage whatever they can out of this season.
It all starts with Brian Reader.
If the coaches still have faith that Reader can get the job done, then he needs to step up and show Vandal fans why. Traveling to Las Cruces might provide the getaway the Vandals need to concentrate on the team, and nothing else. It seemed to help at Virginia.
SO once again it’s time to put on your silver and gold and cheer for the Tribe from the North Vandal fans! Here’s to a well played game and Vandal victory this Saturday!