Quarterback Eric Hisaw makes no promises that Idaho has finally turned the corner after last Saturday’s gritty 17-14 win over Northern Arizona.
But, he says, “I know we’re not going to quit, ever; not with this senior class and this coaching staff.”
Idaho (4-4) won despite Hisaw’s three interceptions in the fourth quarter, and despite temporarily losing receiver David Griffin and running back Lavoni Kidd to injuries.
Coach Chris Tormey, who was an assistant on Washington’s 1992 national championship team, called it one of most satisfying wins he’s ever been associated with.
“We were 1-3, didn’t have an identity offensively, then we put together two good games against Eastern Washington and Montana and thought we had it turned around,” he said. “Then we go on the road to Weber State and lose. At that point, I’ve been around a lot of teams that go the other way, but these guys kept working.”
Particularly impressive was true freshman Jerome Thomas, who filled in for Kidd, and seldom-used senior Ted Severe, who replaced Griffin.
Thomas, a defensive back three weeks ago, ran for two touchdowns. Severe returned four punts for 41 yards and had a reception on the game-winning TD drive in the closing minutes.
Joked Tormey of the 5-foot-5, 156-pound Severe: “I told Teddy after the game, ‘I’ve gone out with girls bigger than you.”
Griffin (thumb) and Kidd (knee, ankle) are expected back for this week’s road game against Northern Iowa. UI’s Marcelle Williams, Kidd’s backup, suffered an apparent seasonending knee injury in practice last week.
Scouting Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa star receiver Dedric Ward missed last week’s game because of a kidney stone. He should be ready for Saturday, and quarterback Chris Berg, a transfer from Stanford, also should return after a one-game injury absence.
Ward has blinding speed. He caught 11 passes against UI last year. “He ran past (safety) Montrell Williams a couple of times and that’s not easy to do,” coach Tormey said. Williams was the Big Sky sprint champion last year but he’s out for the remainder of the football season due to a knee injury.
UI’s defensive approach on Ward figures to be interesting. Last year, the Panthers threw deep nearly every time UI played man-to-man. It’s likely UI, with a banged-up secondary, will utilize more zone this go-around.
Meanwhile, UI coaches will be mindful of the Panthers’ starting cornerback. Freshman Steve St. Meyer was scorched by Illinois State last week. St. Meyer was third-team three weeks ago but moved up because of an injury to starter Earl Powell and the second-stringer quit.
Panther coaches are desperately hoping Powell can return this week from having knee surgery on Oct. 25.
A battle is shaping up to determine if the Big Sky will have a second representative in the playoffs. The conference has had at least two qualifiers every year since 1984.
Here’s a look at some what-ifs (provided Montana claims the Sky’s automatic berth).
If Northern Arizona, which lost alleverything quarterback Jeff Lewis to injury last week, loses at Weber State on Saturday, its hopes would likely be dashed with a 7-4 mark.
Boise State (6-3) probably faces two must wins, against Montana State and at Idaho. The Vandals, in particular, are no gimmee.
And Weber State (5-4) almost certainly has to beat NAU and Idaho State to have what most consider a slim shot at an at-large berth.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.