It was Thursday of this week, Idaho coach Robb Akey said, that he noticed a shift in the Vandals' attitude. No longer were they lugging around their 0-5 record. "The anchor finally fell off," as Akey described it, and he could sense his team was more upbeat with WAC play about to start.
That confidence showed Saturday in a 26-18 win over New Mexico State. We've got details below.
We covered Idaho's first win of the season from the Kibbie Dome, where a season-high 14,755 were on hand. Our game story featuring a memorable weekend for kicker Trey Farquhar is here. And below are a whole host of notes and quotes we didn't have space to put into the paper.
- Idaho defensive end Benson Mayowa sat out the first half, apparently as part of a suspension that included not traveling to North Carolina last week. He still finished with a forced fumble and was part of a tackle for loss.
- Farquhar, after a 4-for-4 day on field goals, said he never looks where he is on the field before kicking because he doesn't want to be distracted. He'd rather use the same leg swing each time -- regardless the distance. "To be honest, the 55-yarder (which tied a career high), I thought the uprights were right in my face," he said. "It looked like it was 25 yards away because I don’t look where I’m at out on the field."
- The Vandals did a nice job pressuring NMSU quarterback Andrew Manley. Akey said they noticed on tape that if he was pressured, "his throws would not be as accurate." That turned out to be the case Saturday. Manley was hurried seven times, sacked three times and threw two tipped interceptions. But he also passed for 309 yards and connected on two long pass plays with Austin Franklin and Demonte' Bateman.
- Asked if this was the Idaho secondary's best performance, Akey paused for a few moments and said, "I would say it’s our football team’s best game because we won." UI defensive backs have been beat for long passes in each of the six games this year. The worst moment Saturday came when Aaron Grymes was burned on Bateman's 30-yard touchdown catch.
- Idaho's other flaws still were very much on display, even though it got a much-needed win. Akey mentioned turnovers -- the Vandals had two -- and the ground game. Idaho rushed for just 82 yards on 28 attempts (a 2.9-yard average). The coach also wasn't happy with nine penalties for 97 yards, including four personal foul calls -- three against QuayShawne Buckley.
- Buckley's most damaging penalty on NMSU's last drive after it had failed to convert a fourth down. he was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty; the Aggies kept the ball and eventually drew with eight points. "We've got to be smarter than that," Akey said, adding that he loves Buckley to death.
- Idaho linebacker Homer Mauga said the Vandals were "lackadaisical" on the Aggies' last drive, which results in a touchdown and two-point conversion.
- Mauga said after a 66-0 loss to North Carolina last week that the team wanted the season to be over with. But now ... "Everybody’s ready to make plays and win this conference."