Idaho has been meticulously preparing for today’s season opener against Air Force for months, planning ways to collar the Falcons’ wishbone offense and confound their defense.
Study, prepare, practice, pore over videotape… . no stone left unturned.
Well, maybe one boulder.
“We didn’t show our guys that,” UI football coach Chris Tormey said, referring to the video of Air Force upsetting Notre Dame 20-17 in South Bend last year.
Some things are better left unseen. Besides, it’s a new year. And each team comes into today’s noon PDT game at Falcon Stadium with the same goals.
Each is going with a “new” quarterback - Idaho’s Brian Brennan returns to the starting role for the first time since the ‘95 season and Air Force’s Blane Morgan starts for the first time.
Each defense must find a way to defuse capable offenses.
Each offensive line has three new starters.
“We know they’re going to move the ball against us,” Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said. “Hopefully, we’ll move the ball against them. Our best defense may be our offense. We want to control the ball and keep their dangerous offense off the field.”
Tormey made similar remarks.
“We need to play,” Tormey said. “We’ll find out if we’re ready or not.”
Specifically, Idaho needs to find out if its defense can prevent Air Force from hogging the ball. And UI needs to find out how redshirt freshmen guards Brett Morton and Bob Horbaczewski and senior right tackle Justin Meek will perform in their first starts. And there is curiosity about Brennan, who has recovered from shoulder surgery and has been sharp in fall drills. Brennan’s best ally might be running back Joel Thomas, whose productivity could give Idaho a run-pass balance difficult to stop.
“We were in a similar situation last year when we had to replace four linemen,” Tormey said. “We’ve been through that, now it’s just a matter of getting over the top. We believe we can go play well, keep the game close for three quarters and we can find a way to win in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games (the last two years). We need to find ways to make plays in the fourth quarter.”
Idaho is a 16-point underdog… Idaho’s departure was delayed for several hours on Friday afternoon because of mechanical problems with its charter plane… .About 45,000 are anticipated at Falcon Stadium. …Idaho starting linebacker Matt Jasik will make the trip but won’t play. There is concern that his neck injury might be more serious than originally thought… . .Backup defensive back Tom Rayner, an accomplished run stopper, might see more time against the ground-based Falcons… .The Vandals traditionally have been competitive in games against Western Athletic Conference foes, including wins over Colorado State in ‘92 and Utah in ‘93 and a narrow loss to Wyoming last season… .Air Force has blocked 33 kicks in the ‘90s, including four last year.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Vandals at Air Force
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