Comparing Portland State and Air Force is impossible. Yes, both play college football, but the similarities end there.
So Idaho’s second game will look nothing like its opener against Air Force last week. Portland State, today’s opponent at 3 in the Kibbie Dome, is more similar to teams Idaho will face when it enters the Big West Conference season.
The Vikings, of the Big Sky Conference, rely on the pass and operate out of a one-back set. Air Force, which defeated UI 14-10, runs the wishbone.
“It’s a whole different perspective, probably more so for our defensive backs than anyone else,” UI coach Chris Tormey said. “They’re going from run force to pass coverage.”
And PSU’s defense?
“A lot different than Air Force,” Vandals’ offensive coordinator George Yarno said. “This will be a big, physical challenge this week. Last week was more of a mental challenge, being in the right place. They’re going to be right there for us.”
The Vikings lost 35-7 to Fresno State last week, giving up 28 points in the second quarter. Quarterbacks Tyson Parsons and Jimmy Blanchard split time and are expected to do so again today.
PSU is loaded with speed in running back Charles Dunn and receivers Art Williams and Orshawante Bryant. However, four of the top six offensive linemen entering fall drills are out or quit due to injury.
“If there was one encouraging thing we did it’s that we played hard offensively,” PSU coach Tim Walsh said. “They made some mistakes, but effort in the line can go a long way.”
The line mainstays are on the left side - tackle Rene Sandoval and guard Bobby Singh.
Walsh is wary of Idaho, whom he called “a better team than what we saw at Fresno.
“Football is a game of goods, bads and uglies and how you handle the uglies is what decides the game,” he said. “When things got bad (at Fresno), they got ugly quick.”
Sophomore linebacker Matt Jasik will miss his second straight game and his status for the rest of the season is in doubt. He suffered stretched ligaments in two adjacent vertebrae in his neck during fall practices.
“It’s going to be a call by the neurologist whether he plays this season,” Tormey said.
James Durrough has replaced Jasik, but the Vandals have little depth at the position.
Freshman receiver/returner Vern Bernard is out for the season after injuring his knee against Air Force. Freshman Willie Alderson inherits Bernard’s return duties.
Tailgating? At UI?!?!
Pre-game tailgating, long a sensitive subject at Idaho, is back with expanded room for partakers.
The new area, designated as private, includes the parking lot west of the Kibbie Dome. Only Vandal Boosters will have access to the reserved spaces closest to the Dome. The remainder of the lot will be open for general admission at $3 per car.
Parking for recreational vehicles is available north of the main Dome lot. Those spots must be reserved ahead of time.
Portland State has two ex-Vandals. Wide receiver Jerome Allen is a backup receiver. Quarterback Shon Piel, who made a brief stopover at UI after transferring from Idaho State, practices but is ineligible.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Vandals vs. Portland State
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.