From Antwaun Sherman's opening kickoff return for a touchdown, to a stoic effort by Brandon Kania and the Vandal defense late in the 4th quarter to seal this victory, the effort of this young Idaho team was admirable.
- Idaho recorded TWO 100 yard rushers in one game for the first time in 6 years (according to the Vandal broadcast crew).
- Idaho has won 2 games within the first 7 games of a season for the first time since the 2000 season.
- Idaho's runningbacks have already rushed for over 1000 yards combined on the year, with 5 more games to go.
Idaho is making some serious progress. Probably not as fast, and probably not as thoroughly, as some would like, but this team is maturing quickly. This first year coaching staff has inserted 17 true freshmen in the active depth chart, they have turned to some young redshirt sophomores and freshmen to step up, and they are leaning on the leadership of a handful of juniors and seniors to help turn this ship around.
With experience will come consistency, and consistency is what the team will be working to build through the second half of the season.
MARLIN SMITH / VandalVenue.com
|The Vandals spent a lot of time in this area of the field Saturday.|
There are a bunch of players that made impressive contributions this afternoon, but if you are going to start anywhere, you pretty much have to start with the runningbacks, Rolly Lumbala and Jayson Bird. "Rock and Roll", as Vandal broadcaster Tom Morris affectionately referred to them today. These true freshmen bring just an impressive amount of talent to the table. Powerhouse Lumbala battled for 127 yards on 22 carries (lost just 2 yards on the day), and scored 2 TDs on the afternoon, including a 34 yard explosion in the 4th quarter for a score.
Bird, finding a little less open space for much of this game, found a seam in the 4th quarter and outran everyone for a 51 yard touchdown with 7:52 left in the game that shut the door on UL-L with a resounding thud. He would leave the game with 136 yards on 16 carries, boasting an impressive 8.4 yards per carry on the afternoon (Rolly also logged an impressive 5.7 yards per carry).
Equally impressive, the Vandals rebuilt, incredibly young offensive line opened holes for these guys when they needed it the most. With star offensive tackle Hank Therien still nursing an injury in street clothes on the sideline for this one, this unit made due with Nate VanderPol and Tony Kiel on the left side, true freshman Desmond Clark and Jade Tadvick on the right, and Jerrod Schulte at center. Throughout the day true freshman Marcis Fennell worked into the rotation, as did Ryan Waage. It was an impressive performance by this group, and a nice glimpse into what they may be capable of in the weeks and years ahead (Idaho loses just one senior from the entire offensive line depth chart).
Junior QB Michael Harrington didn't throw the gawdy numbers today, but he was efficient, completing an impressive 75% of his passes for 197 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions. Not Heisman numbers, but exactly what this team needs from its captain and leader.
Harrington's target? A bunch of guys. His #1 target was senior Bobby Bernal-Wood who's putting up some impressive numbers of his own. Bobby's 12 receptions leads the team by a wide margin. He recorded just 78 yards, but they were 78 key yards to keep several drives alive. Senior tightend Willie Sipoloa wins the long-ball award for the game, hauling in a 38 yarder while recording 2 catches on the day for 49 yards.
Hats off to sophomore tightend Luke Smith-Anderson on his FIRST career touchdown as a Vandal, a 16 yarder in the first quarter that put Idaho up 21-0. Sophomore Wendell Octave added a 22 yard reception on the day, while redshirt freshman Ryan Heacock caught one pass for 17 yards.
Overall, this was a very impressive effort by the offense, and a huge step in the right direction coming on the heels of last week's frustrating loss. The Vandals put up 447 yards of total offense. They were perfect in the redzone (3-3), led in time of possession (31:43), had no fumbles or interceptions, and were penalized 5 times for 35 yards (the team was actually penalized just 5 times). A remarkable improvement from last week, and something to build on this week at Middle Tennessee State.
MARLIN SMITH / VandalVenue.com
This was a nice performance by a Vandal defense that has been decimated up front by injuries, and is playing a LOT of youth in the defensive backfield. Across the board, the team is counting on new guys stepping up each week, and this group is starting to come together as a unit.
One unit that is not necessarily dealing with the same magnitude of youth or injury is the linebacking corp. Typically, its junior middle linebacker Cole Snyder leading the charge for the Vandals, leading the team and the Conference in tackles on the year. Not so this week, as junior OLB Nate Nichols earns that honor against UL-L with a team best 8 tackles (7 solo), which included 1 sack and 1 quarterback hurry. Not to be too outdone, Cole recorded 7 tackles, (6 solo), recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, and recorded 2 QB hurries. In the "Check this out" category, true freshman middle linebacker Benjamin Alexander recorded his first sack of the season. In all, not a bad day's work.
Hats off to senior cornerback Chris Nathan, who tied Nichols for the team lead in tackles with 8 for the day (6 solo). Chris showed his jets also by getting in on a QB sack and recorded 2 tackles for loss. An excellent effort by an athlete who has been, and will likely continue to be, most passing offense's main target as teams stear clear of senior LC J.R. Ruffin. For this game, J.R. picked off his second pass of the season, broke up 2 passes, and recorded 3 tackles (all solo).
Senior captain and free safety Simeon Stewart also picked off a pass, recorded a QB hurry and 4 tackles on the afternoon.
Up front the Vandals are proving to be resourceful. Senior captain, DE Brandon Kania, continues to come through when the Vandals absolutely need him the most. He only recorded 4 tackles on the day, but they were all huge, including a QB sack in the 4th quarter, and getting in the QB's grill as the D shut the Cajun offense down. All of his tackles were solo.
Another lineman that is somewhat quietly making a name for himself is true freshman noseguard Siua Musika. Siua recorded just 2 tackles on the day, but BOTH were tackles for loss, both were solo, and one was a critical QB sack. These aren't going to qualify him for Defensive Lineman of the Year award numbers (YET!), but he's playing extensively this fall, and is quickly developing into a force.
Hats off also to senior defensive lineman James Coley as he recorded 2 tackles in this game, 1 tackle for loss, and a QB hurry.
Overall, this unit has become stingy in Conference play when it comes to giving up points, despite some heavy losses on the interior defensive line. They yielded 522 yards defensively to a pretty good Cajun offense, but flexed when they needed to the most.
MARLIN SMITH / VandalVenue.com
|Vandal offense marching.|
SPECIAL TEAMS SUMMARY
Boy, talk about a NICE breath of fresh air. On the opening kickoff of the game, JC-Transfer speedster Antwaun Sherman blew the doors off the Cajun kick coverage team, going 100 blistering yards to set up a 21-point Vandal scoring barrage in the first quarter (he ended the day with 128 yards on 2 returns). The score was the first Vandal kick/punt return for a TD since Rod Bryant did it last season, and the first 100-yard kick return for a TD since Montrell Williams did the same thing in 1994. It was Idaho's 4th 100 yard TD return for in school history.
Hats off to redshirt sophomore kicker Mike Barrow who continued to be perfect on PATs, and also went 1-1 on field goal attempts, connecting from 37 yards out to cap a 10 play, 61 yard, 4 minute drive.
True freshman starting strong safety D.J. Dykes also took over punt return duties when senior Jimmy Labita went down for an injury. D.J. had one punt return on the day, which he brought back 10 yards.
Overall the unit gave up less than 10 yards per punt return, but gave up almost 30 yards per kick return, with a long of 44 yards.