Idaho Vandals: Long flight, tough opponent
MOSCOW, Idaho – The punishing stretch began at Colorado State and wraps up Saturday night at Hawaii – five games in five time zones, with nearly 7,000 miles accounted for through the air.
The Idaho football team over the last six weeks has grown used to long flights and navigating its way to tough-to-reach locales. But that’s OK to coach Robb Akey – just as long as the Vandals don’t get shaken out of their routine.
“Everybody looks at it a little differently and our approach is (traveling) the way we’re accustomed to,” he said. “And I think it’s going to help us.”
The Vandals always leave the day before Saturday road games, and they typically fly out 30 miles from campus in Lewiston, Idaho. The only hiccup this week was a scheduled fuel stop for their plane before heading across the Pacific.
Still, there’s little easy about the every-other-year trek to Honolulu. And this time, after a five-hour plane ride and trying to acclimate to the humidity, Idaho (4-3, 1-1) will match up against a Hawaii team that’s on a roll.
The Warriors (6-2) nailed down their fifth consecutive victory last week to become the first Western Athletic Conference team to reach 4-0 in league action.
Like past UH teams, they’ve put up eye-popping numbers all season. But it hasn’t just been the offense that’s carried Hawaii within a win of bowl eligibility.
Led by linebacker Corey Paredes and safety Mana Silva, the Hawaii defense ranks second in the WAC. It handcuffed Nevada two weeks ago in an upset of the then-No. 19 Wolf Pack and held Utah State to a lone touchdown last week.
“Even our coaches said this is probably going to be one of the toughest defenses we face all year,” Idaho tight end Daniel Hardy said. “And I think they take pride in being a good defense, because they’re more known for their offense nationally. I think they kind of use that as a chip on their shoulder and they play that way.”
Five Vandals hail from Hawaii, including linebacker Robert Siavii. He’ll start for the first time without roommate and defensive captain JoJo Dickson, another Hawaii native who was lost for the season last week.
Siavii and his Hawaiian teammates have surely offered advice to other Vandals on what to expect from the Warriors and Aloha Stadium. Siavii is close friends with UH quarterback Bryant Moniz, the nation’s leader in total offense, and followed receiver Kealoha Pilares’ career at the same high school of UI tailback Kama Bailey.
He’s expecting more than 120 family and friends at the game, most of whom will be wearing T-shirts made by his parents.
“Should be at least 120 and my whole high school is coming,” Siavii said. “I’ve got to zone them out and play ball.”
This is the third straight road game for the Vandals in which they are the homecoming opponent. They beat Western Michigan in the Broncos’ homecoming game and lost at Louisiana Tech. … Idaho is looking for its first back-to-back wins of the season.