Robb Akey is looking for something positive to ignite Idaho's woebegone offense. It hasn't happened yet, but the Vandals coach is optimistic of course. As he said Monday after the Vandals' bye week, "We’re as cold as the damn ice cubes in a freezer the way things have been going. But we get that thing switched, we can be the team (in the WAC) that gets hot. That’s why I had the blowtorch out all this week -- see if we can melt some of that ice and get the second half to be better."
Read on for more about Idaho football.
The Vandals (1-6, 0-3 in the WAC) host Hawaii at 2 p.m Saturday. They've lost five in a row, and this week they face the most potent passing offense in the WAC.
To help his team focus on the Warriors -- and not a painful loss at New Mexico State two weeks ago -- Akey has closed practice for the first time this year and cut off his players from the media this week. In addition to paying attention to Hawaii, the Vandals spent the past week hearing their coach harp on blocking out outside criticism. Said Akey, "Everyone is so damn negative. The way of the world is negative. Everybody’s real quick to point out what you can’t do — because they can’t do it. And it makes them feel better because they can’t do what you can do so therefore if you’re in the same boat as them, they feel better about themselves."
Here are more comments from Akey's Monday teleconferences:
On the timing of the bye: "Well, the big thing was getting bodies feeling good again. So, yes, it came at a great time. So I thought that was a real good thing. ... The downfall is having to sit on the last result we left the field with. That’s not the ending we would have liked. But it is what it is."
On Hawaii: "They’re a darn good football team. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Coach McMackin and his team and the job that they do and the way that they play. I know they’ve had some ups and downs, but that quarterback (Bryant Moniz), he’s a stallion. He’s on my mind big time, I guess. He can hurt you running and throwing the ball."
On why he closed practice to the media: "Well, solely (for) the fact that I want us to pay attention to us … I just don’t want my guys to have to talk about last week’s game, which was now two weeks ago or anything like that. I want them to focus on what we’ve got in front of us and pay attention to this."
On coming close to more wins: "We are where we are for a reason. I think we’re capable of having a better record right now."
On his two coordinators (Steve Axman and Mark Criner) coaching positions as well as running units: "Most coordinators coach a position. Your offensive coordinator is going to coach one of two spots, generally speaking. It’s going to be the quarterback ... the running back is an easy one because that guy is involved in everything — he’s involved in the running game, the protection game, the throwing game. But the quarterback, it’s an extension of the quarterback out on the field. You're not going to see a whole lot of Division I coordinators that don’t coach a position, I don’t think."
On Jason Gesser's role mentoring QBs: "I look at this way: We’ve got an offensive staff that is capable … . Just because I coach the running backs, for example, doesn’t mean I can’t have a conversation with the quarterback or the tight end or a receiver, or vice versa. Our offensive line coach is going to have lot of communication with our quarterback also because he’s going to be, generally speaking, the expert in the run game. What I try to push is for more of us to be involved with our guys. The more eyes you have on something, the better things are."
On changes this week: "Just the wishbone. ... No, what we paid attention to is getting some things polished up, getting some things made to be better to what they need to be."
On improvements that need to be made: "Well, we need to score more points with our offense. There’s no question about that. I think that in general, you are looking at your guys and everybody can perform better. That’s the goal, the need and the desire is to perform better. ... Maybe you’re getting tired of hearing me say this, but we are so close to being right there. We need one more to play to get us where we need to be, and one more play to get us over the top. I think the whole football team plays into that."
On offensive struggles: "Our punt return team has outscored our offense in the last three weeks. Ray Charles can see that. That’s not good. ... Everybody has got to perform better. Everybody. But there’s no question: We have got to score more points offensively to get us where we need to be."
On outside perception: "We’ve been close to making things happen. … I hear people say, 'Well, Akey keeps talking about it being close.' Well, it is. I don’t know how much more clear you can make that. You can look at the Virginia game. We are in the red zone four times. We came out with six points. That’s pathetic. ... No, I don’t like that too many have ended up on the short end of the stick. You look at the New Mexico State game. The same deal — one play."
On Brian Reader: "I look at a guy that’s a damn good player. I’ve said that for a long, long time. And I maintain he’s going to finish things in a strong, strong way."
On kick-starting offense and the team: "I do believe it’s a spark away. It’s like a big, dry forest in the summer. It’s primed to explode and blow up and burn. But if that spark never takes place, you get through that summer and everybody’s relieved. Well, if that spark takes place, then the whole place lights up. ... Maybe that’s a bad analogy, but I think we’re that close as a team of being what we're capable of being able to be.
On parity in WAC: "I think a lot of us our alike, and it’s a matter of getting something a little bit hot. You got yourself rolling somewhere."