The Vandals went into Saturday's road battle at Northern Illinois looking poised and prepared…
Vandals Beat Rams In Thriller
Quarterback Nathan Enderle threw for an impressive 333 yards and three touchdowns after recovering from an early first quarter interception at the CSU goal line. He led an Idaho attack that put up 403 yards of total offense, and guided Idaho to their fourth win of the season.
About the improvement in the second half: "I think we made some great adjustments. We missed out on Daniel Hardy, he's a big target for us. Max Komar had a great game. We just started getting more in synch in the second half, a lot more."
About expecting to throw a lot on Colorado State tonight: "Yeah, they're a zone pressure team so sometimes it's a little tough to get some rushing into that. We thought we could rip it a little bit."
About what 4-1 means to this program: "Oh, it means so much. Winning's everything in college football. To have a good start like that, it really sets us up for a good season. We just gotta keep working hard and keep playing football like we've been playing."
About recovering from the pick on the first drive: "It's always a downer when you're down there about to score, and it goes the other way. It was a tough break for us. I'm just glad we could come from that – it shows some growth as a team to come back, down early like that."
About looking for Max in Hardy's place: "Not necessarily looking for him, but he's such a great wideout, he gets separation and when someone's open you're supposed to hit him."
About this win tonight: "It was good for us to come back like that. We started really slow, and down at the half. I've seen it before where we were down and things just kept going back for us. Here we turned it around, made some big plays, and got it done."
Wide receiver Eric Greenwood finished second on the team with 130 yards on six receptions, including two touchdowns for the Vandals.
About feeling more comfortable out there and really coming into his own the last couple games: "Definitely. I'm getting more confident as I go, my teammates are getting more confident in me – everyone's getting more confident. Even the fans. Of course, the more confidence you have, the better – you can't be overly confident, but at the same time, you're going to do your job and not really think so much. Just do what you've been doing for 14 years. Just go out and play football."
About the mindset of the team after the early interception in the endzone: "Oh, well…we came out and we drove down on them so easy. That was just kind of a hindrance. We were all like ‘look how easy it was to score on them.' The first half was kind of a struggle all together – that's why in the second half we did a lot of two minute O, and we just said ‘you know what, lets just cut loose and get after ‘em' and we just kind of ripped on it. Ripped ‘em. It wasn't the best way to start the game, but it wasn't too negative in the fact that we got all the way down to the two yard line on them. It wasn't like they pinned us inside our five."
About Enderle recovering after that early set back: "I think it shows how much mentally HE has grown. And just to be able to brush it off and come back. I don't know his stats, but I'm sure he had a pretty darned good day. For him to be able to just say ‘hey, that's just one throw, it's the same as throwing a touchdown or an incompletion – that's just one throw.' For him to be mentally tough enough to just brush it off – it is pretty representative of how he's grown."
About the momentum of being 4-1 going into the conference season: "Well, definitely. We haven't been 4-1 since I've been here. It definitely gets US excited, to show that our homework has been paying off. That we've been playing well, and that we're capable. We've been talking about being a good team for years, and now we're finally showing everyone we can. It means a lot for Idaho, as a whole, too. I'm tired of hearing about Boise State always being the good team. I think as a whole the fans – it's been a long time coming. They deserve this. You saw how they came out today. That shows that they have a lot of faith in us this year, and we're trying to reward them."
Defensive end Aaronn Lavarias helped lead a gritty Vandal defensive performance against a potent Rams offense, and finished with 4.5 tackles including a pass breakup and QB hurry.
About the impact of the crowd: "Oh, the twelfth man – without a doubt. I mean, at the beginning of the game running out into the Dome, seeing all that black. Seeing all the dads. Seeing the fans with the thundersticks. It was just – so much emotion. It just makes you want to play so hard and give these fans a good Dad's Weekend. That's what we play for – we play for ourselves and our coaches, but it really comes down to giving the fans a good show."
About the difficulty getting to the CSU quarterback: "Oh my gosh. They were running a lot of screens, a lot of draws. A lot of QB runs, kind of kept us off balance. But I think we did a pretty good job stuffing the run. I don't care how many sacks we have at the end of the day as long as the scoreboard says Idaho has more points than the other team."
About coming back from 14 points down: "It's just the play overall. You don't think about the play before, you don't think about the play coming up. You play it every play. That's the only one you think about. You don't think about the score, its zero-zero for us on defense. We just try to stop the offense everytime we step out there on the field. We don't think about the score really, we just go out there and try to stop the offense."
Junior free safety Shiloh Keo came up HUGE for Idaho throughout the game, and especially at the end when he made the stop at the goal line to give Idaho 31-29 advantage on a CSU two-point conversion attempt, recovered the following on-side kick attempt, then picked off the pass at the end of the game to seal the win for Idaho. He also led Idaho with 10.5 tackles on the night.
About the great stop, the kickoff recovery, and the last interception: "It was definitely an exciting ending. I was just glad we were able to make those plays out there. The team pulled it off. We played hard for all four quarters. That's something you don't normally see here in the Vandal nation, but we finally got our act together, and we had the will to win this game."
About the tackling tonight, Idaho missed a lot of tackles: "They have some great athletes, they kept their feet running. Some great backs AND some receivers. I don't think we emphasized tackling as much this week, but we'll definitely emphasize it this coming up week [laughter by the media]. That's one thing that really hurt us out there defensively was missed tackles and yards after contact. So we'll have to change that."
About the defense recovering from being down 14-0 early: "No, we didn't think it got out of control. It was so early in the game. We knew we still had a lot of time left. We knew if we could just ground our feet as a defense our offense was going to make some plays. We really work together as a team this year, and it shows out there on the field this year. That's what happened, the defense started out real slow and caused some big plays and then we slowly got back on track. And the offense was marching down the field all day. We just need to keep that up."
About being 4-1 now, having been here for some long, what it means: "Man, it's AWESOME. It's a relief. And it brings the confidence back in you. EVERYBODY when they make it to this level – the Division 1 level – they all come from winning teams. They're the best in their high school. And to come to a school and just lose two, three years straight – it's heartbreaking really, because we have so much passion and we have so much love for this game, and nobody is here to lose. To start off 4-1 is awesome, it's like being reborn. It's just great, it's a great feeling."
One of Idaho's most powerful tailbacks, senior DeMaundray Woolridge refused to be tackled late at the end of the game when the Vandals needed clock chewing drives behind its mammoth offensive line. Woolridge led the Vandal rushing attack with 61 hard fought, fourth quarter, drive sustaining yards and a touchdown.
About the emphasis on passing until the fourth quarter: "I never really second guess what the coaches are doing. Eventually what they have planned works out for us."
About his role on that last drive: "I'm starting to think I've got a role that's something like a finisher. [laughter in the media] When they call on me at the end of the game, I know it's time to buckle down, lower my shoulders, and try to make some plays."
About busting through the lines when nothing seemed to be there: "My runningback coach likes to call it ‘making the magic.' [laughter] I don't know how it happens, it just happens. It comes from preparing all week long and going hard every down."
About the CSU defense: "They were good, they were a real good defense. Very fast, flow to the ball – they weren't afraid to make big tackles in big situations. I mean as a defense I feel like they still have a lot of things they can work on, just like we have a lot of things we can work on as an offense. But they're going to be good down the road."
About the impact of the crowd on this game: "Those guys were amazing. We fed off them the whole game. Keep it up you guys!"
Senior wide receiver Max Komar had another stellar performance for Idaho, leading the offense with 12 receptions for 152 clutch yards and one touchdown, most of which came in the second half when Idaho switched to a two-minute style offense.
About getting past the frustration of some early overthrows by Nate Enderle: "It's frustrating, but at the same time you've got to put it behind you. That's one of the things I've been working on that this year, is not letting that get to me. Last year I'd get real frustrated if Nate overthrew me, and it'd kind of take me out of the game a little bit. So Coach Carr, that's one of the things he was working on with me in the offseason - just letting that slide behind you. When you get an opportunity, make a play. I can't really control that, that's not on me."
About Nate making big plays in the second half: "That was real good, especially that front four they have at Colorado State, they're real big and actually they were getting a lot of pressure on Nate. He was doing real good audibling at the line, and he was hitting us in stride. It felt good, we started clicking more in the second half. I could tell maybe in the first half he was kinda missing Daniel Hardy, that's one of his main targets. He started getting used to us more in the second half, with the unit we had out there. Things started clicking right there."
About adjustments at the half: "We came out in a two minute offense, so we didn't huddle up unless we were out of bounds or if there was an incompletion. That's one of the things Coach Axman said he wanted to do was come out of there and put the pressure on them. As you can see, I think we threw the ball on almost every play when we were marching down the field. When we went to two minute offense, spread offense on the ball, no huddle – it was just kind of a change of pace. In past games you've seen in those two-minute situations we've been successful with those, and Coach Axman just wanted to mix it up a little bit and show them something they haven't seen yet. It seemed to work."
About the goals for this team with the 4-1 start: "Since day one of fall camp our coach has been preaching our goal is to go to a bowl game, so that's what we've got our eyes set on now. We're just taking one game at a time, and that's our mentality right now. We're going to watch film tomorrow, correct our mistakes, put that game behind us, and start looking forward to San Jose. That's how you become successful. If you start getting ahead of yourself, that's when you start losing games. Our ultimate goal is going to a bowl game."
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