Idaho is 0-3. Wyoming is 0-3. Heck, the other game on the Palouse today also features an 0-3 team, Colorado, against Washington State. We have the lowdown on the Vandals-Cowboys matchup in the Kibbie Dome (2 p.m., ESPN3) after the jump.
Robb Akey said the Vandals aren't desperate for a victory. I'm not sure that's true, but this seems certain: The Vandals, coming off the LSU game and headed to North Carolina next week, know this is their best opportunity for a win -- perhaps since the season opener with Eastern Washington. And they're finally at full strength, or closer to it, with Dominique Blackman at quarterback.
"It’s exciting for me because it’s my first time to play at home," Blackman said Tuesday. "It’s finally here to get that opportunity to play in front of the home crowd and let everyone see, you know, our total team this year will all the guys. No suspensions, no anything."
Blackman then said, "We are going to get this win. We are going to get this win."
Is that a guarantee? Seems pretty close.
Here are a few things to watch today:
- Idaho's running game. It's been abysmal thus far, and Akey's pointed out several times over the last two weeks that UI hasn't been focusing on running the ball as much as it could. Jason Gesser has full control of the playcalling duties, but I'm guessing Akey and run game coordinator Gordy Shaw have emphasized going to the ground more. That's especially true with Wyoming having given up at least 200 rushing yards in its first three games.
- Wyoming's quarterback situation. Sophomore Brett Smith missed last week after getting hit in the head against Toledo, and he was listed as doubtful earlier in the week. But he traveled to Moscow, so it's still possible he's a go. And that would be a big boost for the Pokes. Here's some good insight from Robert Gagliardi of Wyosports.net: "If Smith plays, that gives the offense a huge boost, as he rolled up 615 yards of total offense in just less than two full games. But regardless of whether Smith plays, the rest of the offense needs to be more efficient and productive. UW is last in the nation in third-down conversions at 17 percent and has averaged two turnovers per game. In the 24-22 loss to Cal Poly last Saturday, the Cowboys needed more production from other players and didn’t get it. The run game produced 137 yards, and junior backup quarterback Colby Kirkegaard was 15 of 23 for 123 yards and an interception."
- The Vandals' secondary. Regardless of who suits up at QB for Wyoming, Idaho needs to be more consistent in pass coverage. Too often the Vandals let opposing receivers get past them for big gains or just look confused when teams spread them out. Said safety Gary Walker, "We know that we need to come to the table and play every game and play consistent and not really give up the big play consistently. We got to eliminate our mistakes and basically do our assignments, and do them 100 precent every play ..."
You can follow my updates on Twitter @SR_JoshWright. We'll be back after the game with notes and our story from the game.