As he headed off the field after practice to a team meeting Thursday, with his father sitting in the Kibbie Dome stands watching, Idaho senior running back Isaiah Saunders must have been consumed by the universal fear – a parent on the loose telling stories about him.
Among the arcane assortment of cups, boots, boats, bells, buckets, artillery and statuary that comprise trophies in college football rivalries, Idaho coach Paul Petrino may have vied for one of the most unusual.
Idaho’s matchup with Idaho State in Pocatello is unique from at least three perspectives. It will be the first time the two have played since 2008, and the first time in 23 years the teams have faced each other as Big Sky Conference rivals. And for a change, the Bengals aren’t a doormat.
Dorian Clark developed early for the Vandals. He got into nine games as a freshman. He was supposed to be a grayshirt, but injuries on the depth chart ahead of him meant by the first day of fall camp he was running with the active players.
In the future, the University of Idaho’s planned Idaho Central Credit Union Arena will simply be a building, a well-appointed, tasteful home to men’s and women’s basketball games, concerts and convocations.
To jump-start a Big Sky Conference season that was becalmed in a decisive 44-21 loss to UC Davis last week, Idaho needs to do at least two things on Saturday against Portland State. 1. Make sure the entire Vandals team shows up. 2. Defeat the flex defense.
Surviving a first-half test when it fell behind, settling into its assignments and physically wearing down Western New Mexico as the game wore on allowed Idaho to finish with a flourish and collect its first win, 56-10, Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.
Whatever else Idaho sees when it opens the home season Saturday against Western New Mexico, the Vandals will be facing a team that must really like football. The Mustangs endured a two-day, 1,371-mile bus trip from Silver City to get here.
The Vandals have been in preseason camp since Aug. 3, and their first game, with Fresno State, isn’t until Sept. 1. They have had a pair of Saturday scrimmages with a mock game to go. But an endless routine of position drills and running plays in pass skeleton and 11-on-11 stretches on day after day.
Quarterbacks Mason Petrino and Colton Richardson combined to throw for 10 touchdowns. Petrino tossed eight, completing three to Connor Whitney and a pair to Cutrell Haywood, who also caught a Richardson pass over the middle for a score.