University of Idaho senior punter T.J. CONLEY, named this week to the Ray Guy Award watch list, and the rest of the Vandals head to Logan, UT Saturday to take on the Utah State Aggies in the WAC opener for both programs (1pm PST). A victory is crucial for both teams, with the Aggies looking for their first win of the 2008 season, and Idaho looking to build on their win over Idaho State.
Quick everyone – women and children first! Let’s get off this boat!
Well, it’s that time again…the weekend…the dreaded football game. How much more can the average Vandal fan take?
Thus is the sad state of the Vandal fan; filling the internet with any complaint they can pull from their “I”-hole. The only thing more exhausting than the Vandal football team under-performing on the football field, is the fans under-performing off the football field.
But the truth be told; the duty of our football players is to take the University of Idaho to the next level. And despite being this early in the football season, Vandal fans are rolling over and not keeping up with their end of the bargain. The home crowd in the Dome last weekend for the Western Michigan game was a disappointment, to say the least, and one has to wonder how many Idaho complainers have even attended a Vandal game in ‘08.
This game against the Aggies is huge. Huge! Our first conference game is against fourth year Utah State coach Brent Guy and his Aggies. The USU and University of Idaho football programs suffer from the exact same problem: both are making the transition from the Sun Belt, and both have struggled in the Western Athletic Conference. Utah State is nestled in Logan, Utah, and the Aggies sport some of the better facilities in the WAC. Romney Stadium is a great place to watch a college football game, and the Aggie fans will be out and vocal.
Utah State (0-3, 0-0 WAC) will host Idaho (1-2, 0-0 WAC) on Saturday, Sept. 20. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Romney Stadium, and both teams know how crucial this game is. The Aggies and Vandals are familiar with one another as the series is tied 16-16-2. And just so everyone knows, Utah State and Idaho battled to a 0-0 tie in 1937. Both programs are looking to get on track with this game so it’s shaping up to be a very important and good contest.
What you need to know about Utah State
On offense, you could see a rotation of sophomore QB Diondre Borel and Sean Setzer, with dual-threat Borel reportedly given the nod for this weekend's game. Borel is sixth in the league currently and 73rd in the nation in passing efficiency (114.8). Sophomore RB Curtis Marsh has been a bright spot on the Aggies offense, running and catching the ball well. Senior WR Otis Nelson and freshman standout Stanley Morrison OR will start for the Aggies.
On defense, the Aggies bring back veteran experience in every position. Senior LB Jake Hutton is eighth in the conference and tied for 74th for tackles. Hutton is a hammer and will make his presence felt all day long. The entire linebacking crew for the Aggies is fast, big and experienced. Senior De’Von Hall and Junior Paul Igboeli will shore up the middle. On the defensive line, the Aggies will have excellent rotation as the depth is at all positions, and all have experience.
On special teams, sophomore K/P Peter Caldwell remains perfect (6-of-6) on PAT's and has made all three of his field goals. Caldwell also handles punting duties, averaging 37.2 yards per punt, including three over 50 yards and four inside the 20.
To be honest, Utah State has looked better in their first three games than the Vandals. They’ve played stiffer competition, and held their own against a UNLV team that beat ASU last weekend. Can the Vandals beat Utah State? Yes, they can. But once again it depends on execution and turnovers, and really, desire.
Can Idaho turn the corner?
The Vandals were dominating Western Michigan in the first half of last week’s game, yet were down 14-7 at half. It illustrates how much Idaho hurts their cause when it comes to playing sound football. In every facet of the game, Idaho made major mistakes. Offense, Defense and Special Teams all played a part in the loss last week, and once the Vandals were faced with adversity in the second half, they seemed to fold.
Yet, there were still some very bright spots that grab the attention of the avid Vandal fan. Enderle seemed to throw the ball better as the game went on, and even though the game was out of reach, the importance in quarterback/ receiver connections can’t be emphasized enough, especially in game situations. Deonte is still unstoppable, but his lower back limits him. Eddie Williams is a monster, and will continue to be for the Vandal faithful.
On defense, it was nice to see the speed of Robert Siavii garner a sack for the Vandal D. The true freshman added an extra spark on the field, and should have Vandal fans excited about the linebackers in the years to come.
The good news is that a number of banged up players will be back in the lineup for the Vandals. This really should help on both sides of the ball, and really couldn’t have happened at a better time. This game can set the tone for the Vandals for the rest of the season, and most importantly, for conference play. The psyche of this football team is fragile, as last weeks game indicates. They need this win.
Can Idaho turn the corner and win this week? I think so… Though last week was painful, the Vandals found some things out about who they are, and who they can be. The potential is there, they just need to realize it.
It’s the same task Vandal fans are faced with… We have the potential, we just need to realize it.