Idaho has an open date on its schedule this week, but Robb Akey still met with the media to give his bye-week thoughts on the 1-6 Vandals. Read on.
We'll get to the biggest bit of news first: Akey was asked if Brian Reader is still Idaho's starting quarterback, and he replied, “Well, you’ll just have to come to the ballgame (vs. Hawaii) to find out, won’t you?” But pressed further, he reiterated what he's been saying for the past several weeks: “Brian Reader is our starting quarterback. Have you see anybody else play quarterback? … Come Hawaii, we'll see how he plays.”
The Vandals' backup, Taylor Davis, has attempted four passes this season. The sophomore performed well in fall camp, but the coaching staff clearly isn't ready to give him a long look yet — even though Reader (and the UI offense) continues to struggle. The Vandals are averaging 291 yards per game, compared to 421 from their opponents. Reader has nine TDs, seven interceptions and has completed 52.6 percent of his passes.
Here are more thoughts from Akey:
On the spirit of the team: “Well, they don’t feel well. Team doesn’t feel good. I don’t feel good. Nobody feels good. … Being a 1 and whatever-it-is football team hurts. And we’ve got to get ourselves over that.”
On how the the Vandals have responded: “Team has been frustrated, very aggravated. The team is a play away from a much more respectable win-loss record right now. A play away. We battle our tails off at Virginia and find an opportunity to make the play, find a way to win the game. Well, we didn’t make the play and we lose by one point. That same Virginia team beat the No. 12 team in the country (Georgia Tech) this weekend. We are that close to being able to make some very strong things happen.”
On not worrying about outside opinions: “When you’re 1-6, there ain’t a damn thing you can do, according to the world. And if we make the world make our decisions for us, well, we’re not going to have much of a life. We’re not going to have much of a team. I’ve got stronger beliefs than that. It has worked for us before. It will work for us now, and we’re going to get through it by finding the things we can do. … I’m anxious to see the second half of the season. I hope you all are too.”
On being close: “It’s aggravating not to be rewarded. But if we let the aggravation get in the way, that’s a problem. … What I need to point out what they did well and how plays and call and things like that worked out for us. And when we made a mistake, it didn’t work well for us.”
On running game and Princeton McCarty's big game at NMSU: “I thought Princeton ran the ball well, he caught it and ran with it well. The kickoff return for a touchdown was a big play. And we finally got a guy with a hot hand and we were able to feed that. I was happy to see that. … I know people have had success running the ball against New Mexico State. We did too. It’s something that’s significantly improved for us. Our offensive line play, I think, has significantly improved from where we got started at the beginning of the season to where it is now.”
On whether he would have gone for two points if the Vandals had tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter vs. NMSU: “Most likely. … I hadn’t made the decision just yet. That one could have gone either. There were a lot of similarities between those two games (UVa and NMSU). I’m disappointed I didn’t the opportunity to make that decision.”
Etc. — The Vandals, after a few days off, will practice Thursday and Friday and start preparing for Hawaii on Sunday. Much of the coaching staff is out recruiting this week. … Akey said he hopes to have several players come out of the bye healthier. The list includes Michael Cosgrove (groin), Benson Mayowa (knee) and Jordan Johnson (ankle). Quin Ashley and Tre'Shawn Robinson have also been banged up.