Idaho coach Robb Akey met with the media this morning after the Vandals won Saturday for the first time in four weeks. "It was nice to see our football team have fun again," he said. The Vandals must win their last two games, starting with Fresno State on Saturday night, to gain bowl elibility.
Read on for a summary of Akey's comments and an Idaho basketball note on the departure of Renaldo Parker, a transfer from North Idaho College.
Akey has been stressing a much higher sense of urgency since the Boise State loss, and the Vandals (5-6, 2-4) responded well in a 28-6 win at Utah State. The victory rachets up the stakes for the final road game of the season at Fresno State. If Idaho, a 12-point underdog, pulls an upset, it will simply need to beat last-place San Jose State at home to secure a winning record.
With the stage set for a possible late-season rally, Akey said this game means much more for the Vandals than it does for Fresno State. "Hey, we’re playing for everything right now," Akey said, "a lot more than they're playing for."
Earlier he added, "We’re like an NFL wildcard team trying to get to the Super Bowl."
Akey was complimentary of FSU running back Robbie Rouse, who's 12th in the nation in rushing (112.7 yards per game), and the Bulldogs program in general. "They’ve got a strong running game, and we’re going to have to handle that. ... They’ve always been a physical football team."
The coach also said FSU defensive lineman Chris Carter is one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Akey was pleased with how Jordan Johnson stepped in at right guard in Sam Tupua's absence. Tupua missed most the game (I'm not sure what the injury was, but he missed practice time last week with what appeared to be an elbow injury).
The Vandals rushed for 112 yards -- their highest total since the Colorado State game -- and allowed one sack to Utah State.
"I was happy with the fact that I think that we ran the ball better. … I thought we had more time to throw the ball."
The Vandals might have the services of backup linebacker and special teams player John McKinley on Saturday. He fractured his leg in the New Mexico State game on Oct. 23, but has made a quick recovery. He'll have an X-ray today that will give Akey and his staff a better feel for his status. "The X-ray may say I’m speaking too soon, but there’s a chance (he'll play)."
If you missed it, after Saturday night's loss to Portland, Idaho coach Don Verlin confirmed that JC transfer Renaldo Parker has quit the program. "He just didn’t want to work very hard, I guess," Verlin said of the former North Idaho College player.
"I wouldn’t say it was mutual; he just came in and quit the team," Verlin added. "We do things the right way here. You’ve got to go to class and you’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to be held accountable for your actions. He didn’t think that’s what he wanted to do."
Asked about Parker, senior Brandon Wiley said, "Good player, but other than that no comment."