Mid-Week Slant: Akey talks USU and Idaho

This week the University of Idaho opens league competition on the road at Utah State. The Vandals (1-2, 0-0 WAC) will take on the Aggies (0-3, 0-0 WAC) with several key contributors who were out or slowed with injuries the last few weeks, including Mike Iupati, Aaron Lavarias and Tyrone Novikoff. Coach Akey also talks about transfer tailback DeMaundray Woolridge who joined the Vandals this fall.

Whether there were any positives about the loss to Western Michigan: "Oh, I expect this team will respond. We can't wait to play this game. I mean, I know the players are anxious to get out to practice today. We have a bad taste in our mouth. We're certainly anxious to get conference play started, and we can't wait for Saturday, 2:07, to get here so we can get a chance to go out and play somebody and prove to ourselves what we're capable of doing."

Some of the things he expects from Utah State: "Well, I expect their defense to bring a number of different zone blitzes at us, and they're going to play - the other quarterback is gonna get the start. That's Deondre Borel (6-0, 185). We're gonna see him. We're gonna see them working hard to get him running around all over the field, and you're gonna see a team that is very hungry. They haven't won in a while. They've played three good opponents, and I'm sure everyone there is saying, 'Oh, we'll beat Idaho.'"

On the health and readiness of some of Idaho's players – Aaron Lavarias, Tryone Novikoff, and Joseph "JoJo" Dickson: "Lavarias came through just fine [Lavarias played in the Western Michigan after being out with an injury since the Arizona game]. Novikoff is gonna be just fine, and I expect to see him playing a role in this ball game. [Peter] Bjorvik will be questionable for this week's ball game. JoJo Dickson, with his shoulder, I expect to have him back for this ball game. I think those are the guys. I don't think I left anybody else out of that."

Regarding Big Mike Iupati's return to action: "Big Mike did great. He had 27 snaps, and I thought he looked real good out there. He was physical. When he was pulling he looked fast, and the shoulder responded very, very well to it [playing]. So, you're gonna see him in closer to hopefully a full-time role this weekend… nice to have the big guy back."

With the return of Mike Iupati, how Coach Akey feels about the offensive line: "The thing that'll be good is we have him coming back, and he'll probably jump into that left guard spot, and now that makes us stronger at our interior positions. We've got Kris Anderson, a senior, who's been doing just fine. We've got Irv Stevens who's been doing fine, and [Adam] Korby in there. So, that gives us the ability to keep some fresh horses running inside there a little bit. You know, Bryce Sinclair's done a good job subbing in at that spot while Tyrone was out. Hopefully that creates a little more competition at that position, which increases the ability level of that position and gives us another tackle that we will feel comfortable playing in a ball game; so those numbers are gonna help us if something happens, but also keep the guys spelled a little better."

On whether T.J. Taylor is available to play: "No, he won't be there this week. I think he's still a ways away. Iupati is well, well, well ahead of schedule of where he ought to be, and his surgery took play before TJ's. So, I think we're still a couple of weeks out with TJ."

Can coach Akey comment on the transfer of former WSU tailback, DeMaundray Woolridge, to Idaho: "Yes I can. Would you like me to? [laughter] Yeah, DeMaundray is with us. He's out here practicing with us right now. Due to the transfer he's gonna have to sit this year out, but he will be eligible to play his senior and final season with us next fall. He's out there, he's running on the scout team against our defense, and you can't wipe the smile off his face right now. I think he's having a good time. When he came and saw me not too long ago, it was a guy who'd grown up a lot since the last time I had seen him. I know his parents have backed that up a little bit, and I'm real happy that he's here. It'll be a win-win for both of us."

On whether Idaho has too many running backs: "I hope so. [laughter] The more the better… there's no doubt about it. USC - I watched them play Virginia and I saw five different running backs score touchdowns. So, this might be a good thing."

About whether more running backs is better than fewer running backs: "Yes, I do believe that'd be the case. The more the merrier, especially if they're talented. If you have talent, then that makes it very exciting. Therefore, your starter will be a better player, whichever guy that is. It also means we're very fortunate with what we have in Deonte Jackson, because he goes through - the number of carries and hits that he took last season - to go through that whole year at tailback. It's very uncommon that you go through it with one running back, let alone two. I think you really need to have those extra guys available. And it's also guys that are able to be return guys, guys that are able to play different roles for you on special teams. Who knows? Maybe we'll end up putting the wishbone in" [laughter]

On whether Idaho contacted (DeMaundray) Woolridge or he contacted Idaho: "No, he contacted us and came over - he had been released. Long story short, he was recruited out of Texas to go to Washington State, went to Washington State, struggled academically, and had to leave Washington State. He then went about getting himself eligible again. He'd actually gone to another school, got good grades there… needed a couple credits more to be eligible. For whatever reason, that didn't work with them there. They released him, and he was looking for a place to get set up to play his final year, and that was when he contacted me this summer, and we were able to get this thing put together."

On how long DeMaundray Woolridge has been at Idaho: "Since classes began. He got started with us the first week of school."

On whether Woolridge had a lot of playing time as a freshman at WSU: "Well, I liked the ability that he brings to the table, and I like the experience. He's played college football before; so I think that's a good thing. What I expect to see - a good thing, and better be a good thing - is the fact that he's grown up some and has figured out that it's important to go to school. That better prove to be the case for him to be able to stay with us and play in the fall. You know, those are good things, and it doesn't mean I think anything less of the 'backs that we've got. I'm real excited about the running backs that we have. I think Deonte Jackson is a darn good player. I think that Corey White is a darn good player. Princeton McCarty has shown that there are some things that he's able to do with us, and then Troy Vital, every performance he's gone out there has proven that he's getting better, and he's gonna be a real good player here. Kama Bailey, unfortunately, wasn't able to play much last ball game because he sprained an ankle. I think he' gonna be back this week. I'm talking about some kids that we've put a lot of effort into getting them to be here. I'm very proud of that fact, and excited about the future of having them here with us. So, the fact that DeMaundray was able to come to the table, he's got the opportunity to help us for a year, and we've got the opportunity to help him for a year. So, I think that that's a good thing. He's coming to join us and the other guys we've already got here. It's nothing different than that."

"I'll see you all in Logan this weekend."

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