NEWS & NOTES: Week 1

Youth was served for the second year in a row as Idaho trotted a gang of freshmen and first year Vandals onto the field. Their immediate impact (like that of redshirt freshman center Adam Korby in the starting lineup), combined with the experience of the returning athletes, showed clear signs that Coach Nick Holt and his staff are making solid progress.



INJURY REPORT: Junior right tackle Hank Therien left the game half way through the 4th quarter with an injury. The extent of the injury was unknown at press-time, but it was believed he'd be back for the game at UNLV this week. No other injuries to report, other than the usual bumps and bruises from the game.

The Tribune - Cougars defensive end Mkristo Bruce referred to Bird solely by his jersey number, but was hardly dismissive. "Forty-four runs the ball hard," he said. "I will repeat that; he runs the ball hard. After the game I went up to him and said, 'You're a great running back.' He kept his feet going and broke a few tackles. And there are some big guys on our team."

WICHMAN MAKES SOLID DEBUT: In just 2 and a half quarters of play, quarterback Steve Wichman did a nice job against a stout Cougar D. For the game he finished with 143 yards in 13 completions (23 attempts) to score 1 TD without any interceptions. In all, he produced 20 points (leading Idaho to two TDs and two field goals) in his time on the field. He also got a nasty introduction to Division 1 college football, taking a couple shots from some hard hitting Cougs. Vandal fans gasped a bit when he came off the field early in the fourth quarter after getting waxed after launching a pass. But the kid is a gamer, trotting back onto the field to finish the game. His game was not perfect, but he was able to connect on a 31 yard screen pass to Rolly Lumbala and feed 80+ yards of completions to Smith (most of them the 15 yard variety). An excellent debut against a formidable defense.

DANIEL SMITH IMPRESSIVE: The jury can quit debating who Idaho's go-to receiver is going to likely be this fall. Daniel Smith led all Idaho receivers with 10 catches for 103 yards and a TD. The reliable hands observed during spring and fall camp showed up for this game as Smith was remarkably good at both getting open and making progress after the catch.

RECEIVERS SHOW SOME DEVELOPMENT: Smith was the headliner, but Idaho's receiving corps in general looked improved over last year's unit. Matt Askew was second with 4 receptions for 37 yards with a key 18 yard reception from Harrington in the first quarter, and a drive maintaining 7 yarder in the 4th quarter. Wendell Octave dropped a ball in the flat during the second quarter, and we suspect it was partly because he got a glimpse of the miles of green and got a little ahead of himself.

NICELY DONE EDDIE WILLIAMS: Props to true freshman Eddie Williams. First the H-Back saw action immediately, alternating with junior Keith Greer liberally from beginning to end. In the first quarter he picked up his first reception – a 9 yard touchdown reception that cut Washington State's lead to 14-6. Equally important, and something you won't ever see in the stats, is the tremendous job he did blocking in this game. In one particular case, lined up behind QB as a fullback, Eddie and Wichman sold the fake hand off up the middle and Eddie stood up the rushing Cougar linebacker with a solid block at the line of scrimmage. The well executed play gave Wichman time to connect on a 15 yarder to Daniel Smith.

DEFENSIVE LINE STANDS GROUND: Hats off to the Vandal defensive line that did a SPECTACULAR job of clogging running lanes and applying more pressure than Idaho had displayed in 4 years. Led by noseguard Siua Musika, the defense did one of the best jobs we've seen in years of getting in the quarterback's face, clogging rushing lanes, and batting down passes. Props to Ryan Davis (#94) making his debut at DT for the Vandals. The kid is an impressive fighter, getting off the ball quick and twisting and stunting more than a Vandal defensive tackle has in years. Hats off also to newcomer Charles Campbell who ended the game with 4 tackles, 1 pass breakup and 1 QB hurry. He came off the edge hard and looked good in his first Division 1 game. Converted linebacker, sophomore Benjamin Alexander, played early and often at DE and ended the game also with 4 tackles and a pass breakup.

OFFENSIVE LINE PROVIDES WALL: Facing a relentless Cougar rush, complete with defensive line stunts and a dozen blitz packages (at least), Idaho's offensive line played admirably. Tackles Hank Therien and Nate VanderPol faced what may be the best set of defensive ends they'll play this fall and held their own. Adam Braidwood and Mkristo Bruce had their successes, combining for 2 sacks, 8 tackles, 6 QB hurries and a pass breakup. But the line had their successes as well against this rugged pair of ends. Inside, Jade Tadvick and redshirt freshmen Adam Korby and Kris Anderson (shown at right) were solid picking up stunts and grinding out space to give Idaho backs room to run when they needed it the most. In the second half Desmond Clark subbed for Kris Anderson, and when Therien went down on the 4th quarter scoring drive Kris came back in and Clark shifted down to right tackle to complete the touchdown push. In all, a solid effort against a talented PAC-10 defensive front seven. Its also a testiment to how well the line was coached and prepared for this game.

BARROW MAKING PROGRESS: Aside from just a crazy miss on a PAT after Idaho's first touchdown, Barrow was on mark all night. He converted on both of his field goal attempts, both from 24 yards out. More importantly, he started displaying the strong leg on kickoffs that we had been expecting last fall. In the first half 3 of this 4 kickoffs went into the Coug endzone, the fourth landed at the WSU 3 yard line. In the second half, every kickoff went into the endzone. Now, WSU was able to bring the ball back to the 20 on many of those kickoffs, but Barrow is getting the job done by forcing them to start deep in their end of the field.

PUNTING IN GOOD HANDS: Mega props to a couple freshmen who played spectacularly well for Idaho in the punting department. First, walkon redshirt freshman Joel Jones took over long snapping duties and looked like he'd been doing it for years. His snaps were sharp and crisp (mostly) and, to top it off, he hustled down field and at least twice downed the ball. From a punting standpoint, T.J. Conley was great, averaging 39.0 yards in 9 punts, with a long of 50 yards and pinning the Cougs inside their own 20 yard line twice. Both have expectations to play other positions (T.J. at quarterback, Joel at tightend), but this was just an outstanding job by both of these youngsters.

MONSTER IN THE MIDDLE: Finally, congratulations to Vandal senior middle linebacker Cole Snyder on yet another stunning performance. He led Idaho with 9 tackles (7 solo), including a tackle for loss and an interception deep in Cougar territory which he returned 7 yards to the WSU 11 yard line. The former walkon just continues to impress with his workman mentality and no-nonsense, no-frills approach to the game. Props also to sophomore outside linebacker Josh Bousman on a 7 tackle (#2 on team) performance that included a pass breakup.

UP NEXT: Idaho hits the road to take on UNLV September 10th (7:05 PM kickoff). The Rebels will be playing their season opener Monday against New Mexico at Albuquerque, just 5 days before the Vandals invade Las Vegas.

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