Seven weeks in, seven weeks to go. The Idaho football team is at its midseason point, so this is a good time to stop and access the Vandals’ season so far and look ahead through Dec. 4. But first, here’s a link to our story for today’s paper on the UI defense.
Read on for more.
The way their schedule works out, the Vandals play more games (7) in the second half of the season than the first (6). That’s good news if you’re a Vandal fan because Idaho, 3-3, needs four more wins to finish over .500 and snatch a bowl bid.
Before we look at the rest of the season, though, here are a few awards at the season’s midpoint:
QB Nate Enderle
You could argue safety Shiloh Keo, LB Robert Siavii or defensive end Aaron Lavarias here, but the defense fell flat last week and Enderle has put up some big numbers. The Vandals are fourth in the nation in passing and Enderle has 1,784 yards and 13 TDs.
Sure, Enderle has thrown 10 interceptions — after nine all of last year. But he’s faced more pressure from defenses with a weaker offensive line and the running game hasn’t helped nearly as much as last season.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE
CB Aaron Grymes
If last week was any indication, receiver Justin Veltung will be a strong contender in this slot at the end of the season. But this is a midseason award, and few could have expected Grymes to perform so consistently after struggling following a nice start to last season.
Grymes leads the Vandals in tackles, has registered 4.5 tackles for loss and has two forced fumbles and an interception. He’s locked in at starter now that Isaac Butts has been dismissed and Kenneth Patten has moved up to fill Butts’ starting role on the other side.
MOST DISAPPOINTING SURPRISE
LB JoJo Dickson
A lot was expected out of Dickson this season, particularly with him moving to middle linebacker. But he has no tackles for loss or sacks — perhaps a byproduct of his new duties. But still it’s been a pretty quiet year so far for Dickson.
TE Daniel Hardy
Got to go with Hardy here. He always seems to come up with big third-down catches — largely because Enderle trusts him to make tough grabs in traffic — and he leads the Vandals in receiving yards (435) and receptions (26) from his tight end spot.
The Vandals have a couple very winnable games left on their schedule — Saturday when they host New Mexico State (1-5, 0-2) for Homecoming and the last week of the season when they host San Jose State (1-6, 0-2).
Other than those two, the best chance for a win probably will be Nov. 20 at Utah State. The Aggies, though, are a pretty talented (and banged up) 2-4 club that beat Idaho last year at home.
Then the question becomes: Can the Vandals topple one or two of their four toughest WAC opponents: Hawaii, Nevada, Boise State or Fresno State? They’ll be the underdog — in most cases a double-digit underdog — in all those games.
If they want to extend their season, they’ll have to pull an upset somewhere down the line.