Idaho coach Paul Petrino remembers the exact time he plane landed in the state of Alabama. It was 9:16 a.m. local time, something Petrino remembers because he sent out a text message at that time.
That left the Vandals just over five hours to get to the team hotel, eat, go through final meetings and maybe even get in a quick nap in before kicking off against the Troy Trojans.
The Vandals would joyously hop on a flight back to Moscow less than 12 hours later after notching the program's first road win since 2011, a 19-16 Sun Belt Conference triumph.
Read more about Idaho's hectic night of travel below:
Initially, it was only supposed to be a short delay out of the Spokane International Airport. Then, Petrino got the word it wouldn't be until 9:30 p.m. Well, he thought, might as well go back to Moscow.
"Once we found out it was probably going to be until 9:30 they said, I decided 'let’s go back to the Dome' so we can get our meetings in because up there we had nowhere where we could watch film and get our normal Friday night meetings in. We came back here, got our team meeting, offense, defense, special teams, had our team come back, scheduled a dinner for 8 and in between the meetings and dinner, now it’s going to be even longer. Then we didn’t depart from here until 11, 11:30. Then we got up there, got all through security, then waited and waited, then we didn’t go out until 3 in the morning."
But Petrino remembers giving his guys a message in the terminal of the airport before heading back to Moscow the first time.
"'We’re going to win this game,'" he remembers telling his squad. "'What happens from right now until the game is played, it could be crazy. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen and it could be a really difficult situation, but, we work hard all the time. We do things right, I think you guys are mentally tough and we’re going to find a way to win this game no matter what. Whatever it is, let’s keep a good positive attitude.’"
Idaho utilized the dual-quarterback system due to Matt Linehan's ankle not being 100 percent. He finished 15 of 31 for 180 yards, but didn't turn the ball over.
Jake Luton went 5 of 6 for 27 yards, but also ran in his fourth touchdown of the season on a goal-line read-option.
Linehan's ankle still isn't fully healthy, meaning Petrino anticipates using the two quarterback system again on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
Petrino said of it: "I think at times, that last drive, the 14-play drive, he looked just like himself. I think when he’s in there over a period of time the fatigue makes the ankle definitely not 100 percent, that’s why it’s good to have Jake. I think right now we go into games, the two of them have to win it. That’s what I told them both before that game … ‘It’s going to take you both to win this game. It’s going to be different parts of the game, it’s not going to be a set series, a set number of plays. It’s going to be my feeling when I need things that you do right, things that you do well, Matt and things that you do well Jake, that’s what it’s going to take for us to win this game,’ and they did a great job of it and I see us doing the same thing this weekend."
Will Luton continue to get reps when Linehan fully recovers?
"I think we just play that week by week and we’ll see," Petrino said. "I think it’s great right now, it’s great for the team, it’s great for Jake to get reps because he’s a great football player. It’s good to have two quarterbacks in college football this day and age, you probably have to have two good wins. It’s good that we do."
The Vandals had a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line when the game was tied at 16-16 during that 14-play drive. Petrino elected to kick a field goal. Here is his reasoning behind it.
"We had a lot of momentum early in the game, settled for a couple field goals. Thought we should’ve had a bigger lead than we did. They got that momentum back, they got an onside kick and scored and I thought a huge part of the game was that 14-play drive. The game was tied, we took the ball and went 14 plays, used up about five minutes and got all the way down there. We’re on the one-yard line and I just felt like our defense had played so well, let’s get the lead. I wanted to make sure we’d get the points, so I kicked a field goal so if they drove down and kicked a field goal then we’d be in overtime. I didn’t think they’d go down and score a touchdown, where as if we went for it and got stopped they go down and kick a field goal, we lose. That’s why we kicked the field goal, thought the defense did a really good job. They came up, got a stop, guy missed a field goal. As they were getting ready to kick it, we were already talking on offense, okay, let’s come up with our first three plays for overtime and it’s good to get a break every once in a while. Everybody gets breaks, but our guys played their hearts out and they deserve that win. I couldn’t be happier for them."
Quinton Bradley sacked the quarterback twice, extending his Sun Belt Conference lead in sacks to six.
"It’s awesome. He leads the Sun Belt in sacks and tackles for loss," Petrino said. "He’s come so far as a young man, as a leader, he’s one of the guys who it used to be hard for him, the long practices we had, now he knows that’s what’s best for us. I think it’s hard as we practice and the things we do, that’s one of the reasons we won this game."
- Petrino gently knocked on the table when asked if he's going to get any injured defensive players back, most notably Jayshawn Jordan. He said he has to wait and see through the week of practice to see.
- WR Dezmon Epps will continue to play on the defensive side of the ball, but only depending on the situation and packages.
- WR Callen Hightower traveled to Troy, but did not play because of a coaches decision. He will be available on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
- WR David Ungerer played against Troy, but wasn't able to get targeted on two plays designed to get him the ball. Petrino anticipates he'll have a bigger role on Saturday.