MOSCOW, Idaho – One week at a time. This is what Idaho’s season has come to.
With a 2-5 record and three-game losing streak, the Vandals’ hopes for a bowl game are getting perilously close to slipping away.
When Idaho welcomes Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, coach Paul Petrino has told his team not to worry about how to win four of the remaining five games to become bowl eligible, but focus on winning one.
“If you look at the big picture, things are a lot more stressful,” quarterback Matt Linehan said.
“Do everything you can, mind, body and spirit, to get a win against Monroe,” Petrino told the Vandals. “We’ve got to get the first one first.”
The Warhawks come to Moscow with struggles of their own. After winning their first three Sun Belt Conference games, they lost to Georgia State and South Alabama and gave up 670 yards to Georgia State. While ULM boasts the second-highest scoring average in the conference at 36.9 points per game, it is also giving up 37.9 points a game.
ULM has one of the most electric skill players in the Sun Belt. Marcus Green has caught 28 passes for 437 yards and three touchdowns. He has also rushed for 153 yards on eight carries. He leads the Sun Belt in all-purpose yardage (162 yards a game) and he has returned two kicks for touchdowns.
Getting him the ball is Caleb Evans, a dual-threat quarterback who has completed 105 of 166 passes for 1,305 yards and six touchdowns, with one interception. He is also the Warhawks’ second-leading rusher with 447 yards on 76 carries.
Linehan continues to climb the Vandals’ career passing charts. He is in third place in passing yards with 10,130, which is 567 yards behind second-place John Friesz. Linehan is Idaho’s all-time leader in completions (848) and is fifth in touchdowns (57). For the season, he has completed 107 of 172 passes for 1,414 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
UI’s Aaron Duckworth continues to lead the Sun Belt in rushing with 626 yards on 107 carries. He ranks just behind Green in all-purpose yardage (151.3 per game).
A week ago against Missouri, UI linebacker Kaden Elliss, who has also caught passes as a fullback and tight end this season, became the first player in the country to get a sack and make a touchdown reception in the same game.
The Vandals have not abandoned hopes of playing in the postseason, according to linebacker Ed Hall.
“We’ve got five games left,” Hall said. “They are all winnable games.”