MOSCOW, Idaho – After perhaps the most bitter football loss of the Robb Akey era, the Idaho Vandals did all they could Sunday to address what went wrong at Colorado State and simply move on.
But then came the usual early-week sessions with the media, when UI coaches and players had to rehash all the unsightly details – over and over again.
Akey, Idaho’s fourth-year coach, acknowledged the Vandals “were supposed to win” against the Rams, who were on a 12-game skid before booting a winning field goal as time expired. Aaron Lavarias, a senior defensive end, said it felt like UI lost three times because of the team’s blown leads and crippling mistakes.
“It leaves a real bad taste in your mouth,” Lavarias said. “We want to come out here … and take it to Western Michigan and get back on a winning streak.”
Still seeking its first road victory of the season, Idaho (2-2) will close out the nonconference portion of its schedule today in Kalamazoo, Mich., against Western Michigan (1-2). The game, scheduled for 11 a.m. PDT, will be televised on SWX.
The Broncos of the Mid-American Conference were off last week, giving them two weeks of preparations for the Vandals. The extra time should benefit WMU, but both clubs are familiar with each other after the Broncos came to Moscow in 2008 and prevailed 51-28.
WMU no longer has Tim Hiller, the school’s all-time passing leader who graduated this past year. But its calling card is still a prolific passing offense.
Led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Carder, Western Michigan has the fourth-ranked aerial attack in the nation.
Last week against another first-year starter in Pete Thomas of Colorado State, the Vandals’ secondary – which Akey said was “soft” in coverage – gave up 386 passing yards. The forgettable performance came after UI had allowed a total of 361 yards through the air in its first three games.
“If we’re going to be a better defense, we’ve got to perform more consistently than that,” Akey said.
Akey was pleased with the way the Vandals responded in a set of up-tempo practices throughout the week. Part of the sense of urgency comes from wanting to lock up a second straight nonconference winning record, and part comes from hoping to avoid a two-game losing streak going into next week’s bye.
UI should have a full complement of receivers and running backs with the recovery of Kama Bailey. The versatile junior sustained a shoulder injury at CSU, but was able to return to practice by midweek.
The last time the Vandals met a team from the MAC was last year’s Humanitarian Bowl, when they rallied past Bowling Green. … Special teams could play a key role. WMU has already blocked two kicks this season – but also has not attempted a field goal. UI place-kicker Trey Farquhar is 7 of 9 in field goals on the year.