"They've had some tough-fought games and last week they come back from behind to beat San Jose State, so this is a team that on any given Saturday can play with and beat anybody," Doman said. "I'm impressed with them."
"They're a tough defense and they hit hard and wrap up," J. J. Di Luigi said. "I think we have to try and take advantage of certain zone holes or matchups with our taller receivers against their defensive scheme. I think it's going to be a good game and they just came off a win against San Jose State, and I thought they were a pretty good team that we played. For Idaho to beat San Jose tells me they're a pretty good team that's hungry and ready to play."
On film, Coach Doman has seen two different defensive blitz philosophies from the Vandals, depending on the level of talent they've faced.
"They don't do a lot of different things on defense," said Coach Doman. "They are a four-down team and I think they're confident in the coverage that they play and don't do a large variety of stuff. I'm sure they just try and stay sound in their defensive responsibilities, but against better teams we have seen them blitz more.
"Teams that they haven't matched up well against, we've seen them blitz more, and I'm not sure if that's because they're trying to stop the run or just feel they don't match up well. We'll just see what their approach to us is and if they choose to blitz Riley [Nelson] a bunch or choose to sit back in coverage – I don't know. It will be interesting to see what happens."
As for the Vandal secondary, Doman said, "They run a quarter zone defense, so just a quarter coverage defense. It's what we call a cover-four, and then a cover-six are the other two coverages that we call it. They'll play a full deep coverage and then a quarter, quarter-halves are what we're seeing them play primarily."
The quarter zone defense is primarily a prevent coverage scheme that requires a number of checks by the safety. The Vandals run a 4-3 defense, and in a zone quarter defense the middle linebackers are responsible for disrupting crossing routes run by tight ends and h-receivers.
"This is a football team that has great talent," Coach Doman said. "They've got some good talent and I'm impressed with their linebackers and they're good players. They have a good player in [Tre'Shawn Robinson] their middle linebacker. He's someone that stands out to me and is a good player because he plays well within their defensive scheme.
"Then the other player that stood out to me was [Andre Ferguson] their defensive end. Those are probably the two guys that stood out the most to me on their defense."
Last year the 5-foot-1- inch, 250-pound Robinson played in 12 games, starting six. The 6-foot-4-inch, 256-pound Ferguson, meanwhile, split time at his position last year and recorded 22 total tackles.
"They've got some good players, but I think we have to try and take advantage of some of the matchup problems that we bring," Di Luigi said. "I think there are some things we can do offensively to attack what their defense does. It should be a good game."
His close friend Jordan Pendleton
Over the years, Di Luigi has grown very close to outside linebacker Jordan Pendleton. The news that his close friend had played his last college game following another injury was surreal and a cause for personal reflection.
"It was kind of sad talking to him because he was like, ‘You know, I didn't realize that was going to be my last college game.' To think about that for me being a senior, you know, anything can happen on any given play, and that kind of puts it into perspective of how lucky we do have to be able to play."
Even without Pendleton, the Cougars should fare well against the Vandals of Idaho. We wish Pendleton, who has struggled throughout his Cougar career with health issues, the best going forward.