October 28, 2011 in Sports

Vandals looking to thaw out on Saturday

Josh Wright Correspondent
File photo

Idaho coach Robb Akey says he has “had the blowtorch out all this week – to see if we can melt some of that ice and get the second half to be better.”
(Full-size photo)

MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho football team hasn’t won since Sept. 10, and even that victory – against lower-tier North Dakota – is of little consequence at this point.

But while the 1-6 Vandals have been “as cold as the damn ice cubes in a freezer,” as coach Robb Akey put it, the rest of the Western Athletic Conference hasn’t been turning heads either.

Only Nevada, at 4-3 and 2-0, has yet to lose a conference game. And Hawaii – the Vandals’ opponent Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome – is the only other WAC team above .500 through eight weeks of the season.

The conference’s parity is just another reason why Akey remains optimistic that Idaho’s season can still be salvaged.

“A lot of us are a whole lot alike,” he said. “But if we get that thing switched, we can be the team that gets hot. That’s why I had the blowtorch out all this week – to see if we can melt some of that ice and get the second half to be better.”

The Vandals, coming off a bye, have dropped five consecutive games, their longest losing streak since 2008. Two of the last three setbacks – at Virginia and at New Mexico State – were decided in the final play of the game or the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.

For that reason, Akey’s message since a 32-15 loss in Week 1 to Bowling Green has been consistent: “Maybe you’re getting tired of hearing me say this, but we are so close to being right there.”

Akey closed practice to the media and public this week and didn’t make his players available to reporters for the first time this year. The sole reason, he said, was so the Vandals could focus on prepping for high-powered Hawaii (4-3, 2-1) rather than relive what happened at NMSU two weeks ago.

The Warriors, led by dual-threat quarterback Bryant Moniz, have the eighth-best passing attack in the nation (328 yards per game). UH coach Greg McMackin said Moniz is “toward the top” of the list of all-time Hawaii quarterbacks.

“He showed he could throw last year and this year,” McMackin said. “I think he’s the most mobile … quarterback we’ve had. He can make a lot of yards with his feet. He saves us a lot of sacks just with his mobility.”

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