Getting to know the Idaho Vandals.
The Idaho Vandals don't get very much press coverage nationally. Even the Idaho papers don't seem to really pay very much attention the school in Moscow. The best resource I've found has been Vandal Nation which is a site dedicated to covering Vandal sports and is part of the student run Argonaut newspaper.
The main contributor to Vandal Nation is Sean Kramer who does a great job of managing the site. He was kind enough to answer some of my questions about Idaho and what to expect on Saturday. Here is a preview he wrote from the Idaho perspective.
Big thanks to Sean for helping me out again this year. Make sure you follow @VandalNation on Twitter.
1. The Vandals were crushed by North Texas in week one by a score of 40-6. What happened in that game to cause such a blowout?
What happened in week one was a whole lot of inexperience. Half of the players who traveled down to Denton for Idaho had never played a Division I snap. That and North Texas is just a better football team. What we don't know is exactly how lopsided that score should have been. Players have bought in to Paul Petrino and play hard, we just don't know how talented this team is yet.
2. What has Paul Petrino done since arriving in Moscow to prove he can turn Idaho into a winner? Has he done anything that has proven unpopular?
Petrino has gotten rid of players he didn't think would buy into the team or participate in improving academics and has brought in a solid recruiting class of impact high school and junior college players. He's instilling an SEC-ish straight-to-business attitude around the program and I think a lot of people like that. As much as people liked Akey, he proved to be too relaxed near the end of his tenure. Still, until Petrino gets that signature win it's going to be "same old Vandals" from most of the Idaho community.
3. Who are some playmakers we should watch for on both sides of the ball?
Offensive playmakers are WR Dezmon Epps and RB Richard Montgomery. Both have speed, speed, speed. Epps had a good showing at North Texas and is capable of taking any ball over the middle to the house. Montgomery is a home run hitter out of the backfield but is only a true freshman, his poor outing at North Texas should only motivate him. Defensively it all starts in the front seven for Idaho. Defensive ends Quinton Bradley
and Maxx Forde
should end up combined for 15+ sacks on the season, but had none last week. Last year against Brett Smith Idaho was able to get into the backfield and move him around, Vandals just couldn't finish and bring him down.
4. How much has this team changed since last year? Wyoming barely escaped Moscow with a victory in 2012 and now they are 28 point favorites this weekend.
This isn't even close to the Idaho team Wyoming last saw when the Cowboys came to the Kibbie Dome last season. The only units at all that are remotely the same are the offensive and defensive line units, everything else has shifted drastically. It all starts at quarterback, where Dominique Blackman has departed to make way for redshirt freshman Chad Chalich
and junior college transfer Josh McCain. The offense is very different as well. It's shifted from shotgun and short passing to a read-option, pistol and often no-huddle type look
5. The Cowboys and Vandals both recruit a number of players from the same territory. A couple of Wyoming targets out of Washington State ending up signing with Idaho a couple years ago. How has Jayshawn Jordan done so far this year? It also appears that Ma`ne Manaea is no longer on the team, what happened?
Ma'Ne Manaea was one of the players departed since Petrino got to town, though we're not sure why. He broke his ankle last season which forced his redshirt, but it's likely he'd be starting if he were still on the team. Jayshawn Jordan
has done pretty well for himself, playing right away as a freshman last season in the nickel, and now battling for the starting job with JC transfer Delency Parham. Jordan will be heavily involved in the corner rotation all season this year.
Predict the score:
Score prediction: Idaho has a rough secondary, young and very inexperienced. The defensive line could get to Brett Smith but that won't stop him from making plays. So Wyoming will score. Idaho offensively should be much better this week though, and hopefully Chalich won't put the ball on the ground. I'm going to say Wyoming wins 31-14.