NEVADA PRE-GAME: Robb Akey Quotes

In this transcript Coach Akey discusses all things about this year's team: Where he has seen significant growth in the team, the performance of quarterback Nathan Enderle, the role safety Shiloh Keo is now filling, the leadership roles the upper classmen are filling, and much more. "I'm not gonna let anything stand in the way of us making the growth that we need to make - its got to be done now."

On changing the defense to prevent such large gains by the Vandals' opponents: "Well, we need to play more effectively. We've had different issues, believe it or not, in each game that I think come with growing a football team up. We're going to see some inconsistencies. Believe it or not, there were improvements from what we had the week before in the Utah State game. We were in better position. We actually played better. It was the big plays in the San Diego State game that really destroyed us. So, building more consistency, getting guys more comfortable with what they're doing and understand that it's okay to trust the decision and go with it….hey, just flying around and play football. That's kinda where we're at a little bit, but yeah, I'm with you. We need to get these numbers brought down a little bit. It might put a little color back in my hair….what's left of it."

On whether Coach Akey's confidence has been shaken or his optimism has waned since the WAC media days last summer: "Absolutely not. We're in the process of building something, and I know what a lot of people are thinking: Well, show me coach. I'm saying the same thing: Show me. But, I do see the growth that's taken place, and I do know that you're not just gonna go and correct it overnight. I can't put that many inexperienced and new guys out there against other people with experienced players and be a dominant football team just yet. Now that doesn't mean, I don't think, that we're not going to have a chance to win games… and we can do some good things like that by any stretch. No. It has not shaken me. To be honest with you, it's not frustrating either. It may be driving me crazy a little bit. But, that's because I see us do it at times, and that's gonna happen when you're growing something. That's where we are - in search of consistency right now."

On whether the player's spirits are up and if team spirit is okay: "Well, I think that's constantly a challenge. They want success also, and it's their names that are on the backs of the jerseys out there that everybody's talking about, that everybody's commenting about, that people have opinions about. They want to win, and right now they're still working their tails off and they're hungry to do it, and I think it's a testament to the fact that the unity of this football team has grown; the fact that we've got a family built, is enabling that to be more the case. Certainly we need to start seeing some success."

On the good things that have happened this year: "Well, I've seen young guys grow up and be able to make plays. We can go by position. If you look at quarterback, I look at the way our quarterback is performing in comparison to a year ago. Now, our whole offense had a bad day this last Saturday. I can't judge anything based off of just one day, but I see better command - I see better presence - by [Nathan Enderle]. I see him making good decisions. I see him running the show very well for us. People want to judge the quarterback based on the number of passes that he threw - what was the result of those passes - without taking anything else into play with regard to when he threw the ball. Is he the one that made a poor throw - and there have been some - [or] was it a receiver that ran a poor route, or didn't catch the ball? Whatever the case may be, what he does in regards to checking the protections, to checking the run game and things like that, putting us into good plays when somebody's bringing another look at us; he's done a tremendous job of that. There's more confidence in what he's doing that way.

You look at our running backs. Deonte Jackson's body is banged up a little bit. A year ago we wouldn't have been able to survive as many injuries at running back. But, I've got some youngsters that are coming into the game that I think are quality players. Corey White has been in there and done a good job. This weekend Princeton McCarty and Troy Vital have both been in there and had success, done good things, and they're gonna get nothing but better, because they're just pups. That's a great excitement to me.

I look at receiver. Receiver last year was very disappointing in the performance of that corps. I'm seeing some guys making some plays at receiver now. I mean, look at Eddie Williams. Eddie Williams is making plays all over the place. That's a tough guy, a great competitor. I look at the way that he plays and that's something that is a very good thing, what that guy's bringing to the table and the way that he's competing and producing. Then you go out at the receiver position and Maurice Shaw making more big plays, making plays for us more so than a year ago. Unfortunately he got that ankle hurt a week ago and wasn't able to play against San Diego State, but that was improvement from him. Max Komar has been more of an improvement. I've got a true freshman named Preston Davis that showed up big in a game two weeks ago and has got tremendous hands, and is gonna get nothing but better.

On the defensive side of the ball, the fact that we're able to actually line defensive linemen up was something that we weren't able to do a year ago. I look at the way that Josh Shaw at defensive end is playing. You watch the first quarter of Saturday's ball game and put him on a year ago or any time before that, that young man has gotten a whole lot better. We need to play -- as a whole, as a defense -- certainly we need to play better, but I look at the way he was playing with a motor, making tackles for loss and things like that. That was getting to be a better thing. At the defensive tackle position "Big O" – Oga Faumui – made more tackles for us in this last ball game than what he had been, and that's a junior college guy that we brought to the table that we needed. We brought him in here because we needed some help there, and I saw him show up more in this last ball game, and he started making some plays. Hopefully it's starting to click a little bit for him as we're going right now. Prior to that the defensive tackle that has been playing, maybe performing the best, was the redshirt freshman (Michael) Cosgrove. He's still gonna get stronger and bigger than what he is right now. He's been doing some good things, and he's just a pup.

I go to linebacker. JoJo Dickson did some things in this last ball game, flying around…he's starting to show the kind of a linebacker that he's gonna be able to be. That's a kid that can run and can hit. He had a shoulder a couple of weeks ago, and that limited some of his play. He played as a true freshman last year; so we're seeing some of the rewards come from him having played through that.

If you go back to the secondary where Shiloh Keo - I mean, the way that he plays, and it is similar to what he was doing last year. He was one of the bright spots, one of the things that we could point to last year and say, Hey. This was a good sign. This was a good thing. Here's obviously a good player, a tremendous leader. Well, right now he's on the shelf with a shoulder injury. I look at the way that he has responded to it. He's taken it upon himself to say, Coach Akey, Coach Criner, I'm gonna help y'all get those safeties put where they belong. He's been active in practice every day. He was active on our sideline on Saturday. Now that proves to me that he cares about what's going on here. So, I've got a football team that cares about the growth that it can make. That's a great sign in comparison to what it was that we had initially taken over. I'm starting to ramble a little bit. I could go on and on. So there are a number of things.

Certainly the only thing that anybody is going to judge Robb Akey off of is the won-loss column. So, right now, that doesn't look very good, but I can't put my attention on that. Yeah, I've got to produce [wins]. I completely understand that. There's no question about that. But I'm not gonna let anything stand in the way of us making the growth that we need to make, and seeing the progress that we're making and being demanding that we progress more, because obviously it's got to be done now. We've got a helluva football team coming in here this weekend."

On the length of time it would take to rebuild the Vandal football team: "Well, you know us football coaches. We all think we can get everything done now, but the outside world wants it done even quicker than that. I am completely aware that it was going to take us some time to get things headed our way. We also elected to do it the way to build a strong football program, a strong foundation, and do it with youth, with freshman players. That doesn't mean… that doesn't talk about these new guys coming in and how they've done. I'm not selling them short either. We've got some seniors that are doing good things for us. I just got done talking about Eddie Williams, and (Adam) Korby and those guys on the offensive line. They're upper classmen that are playing good roles for us. I'm not kicking anybody to the curb. We're just trying to make the strongest family we can right now. Now, with what has gone on, the fact that the last and only bowl game at the University of Idaho was ten years ago, yeah, that's a pretty good indication that you're not gonna snap your fingers and it's gonna happen right now. I'm not going to put a time limit, other than saying: as soon as humanly possible."

On whether Nate Enderle can get better just by making better throws or having receivers hold onto the ball, or is there some other issue there: "I think if you look at the statistical numbers - the completion percentage and those things - I think you'd see those numbers jump by him fixing maybe three throws a game, and the receivers fixing maybe three or four a game. Where that ball's being thrown, and it's either getting caught, or they were where they belong, or the throw's on the money. Some of those that go down as incompletions, I'm also telling him maybe that's a great job. I'm covered, and you're throwing it away, that's a great decision. That could come up a little bit. I'm not gonna stand here and tell you that he's John Elway yet or that any of our others guys are perfect either. I mean, he's a sophomore that's going into the sixth ball game of his second year playing college football. Can he get better? Absolutely. Do I believe in him? Absolutely I do. Where people get critical of some of his numbers and some of those things, there's more than just a quarterback that goes into the passing game. But, I do see him getting better, and I do see how he can - and will. I also see how the guys around him need to be able to do the same thing."

On why Chris Joseph plays at the end of some games: "The reason that Chris has gone in there - both those games when he went in - was twofold: He's a backup that's got to be able to do something in the worst case scenario. Also at that point in time, as much as I'm competing - calling time outs so we can try to get every second out of the game against San Diego State - with that last possession time was absolutely against us. We weren't going to be able to win that game at that point in time, and rather than having my starting quarterback get hurt because of whatever could happen, that's why he was standing on the sideline next to us. It is not a [quarterback] competition."

On the topic of playing Western Athletic Conference games for the rest of the season: "I love our conference. That doesn't mean it's gonna get any easier. It's going to get more difficult now, especially the run that we're coming into right now. I look at Nevada, that's a hot football team right now. What they just did to UNLV on Saturday night; I mean they're operating on all cylinders. They've got the number one offense, the number one defense. I thought Vince Young had gone to the NFL, but evidently he's in Reno, Nevada right now because he's wearing #10 and he's flying around all over the field. That kid, Kaepernick, is a helluva player. Yeah, I like being in the WAC. I like the fact that this one's at home, and I like the challenge. We've got a great football team coming in here to get after us this weekend, and we're gonna get after them."

Whether the Nevada quarterback is similar in attacking style to the Utah State quarterback: "I would say no. I think Kaepernick is much more polished. They've got an attack that they've been working on with him, they're good at what they're doing, and they go ahead and take over the ball game. Their game with Vegas, he was accountable for over 400 yards and five touchdowns himself. That's pretty powerful."

About stopping Nevada's quarterback if he is running or throwing the football: "We've got to stop the ball wherever it's at. I think the biggest thing… going into any ball game, you've got to stop the run first, and that's first and foremost. Yeah, their first touchdown of the game was a good throw to a fast receiver. We've got to be able to handle both avenues of it. But, we've got to be able to… we need to do the best job that we can to keep his big plays at a minimum."

Whether Shiloh Keo has a future in coaching: "He would definitely have a future in coaching. We've talked about a lot of things over time. I don't know that he's got his mind set exactly what he'd like to do yet. But, I do think there are some thoughts of his that coaching might be a possibility for his future."

On what makes Eddie Williams perform and do great things: "His competitiveness would be first and foremost. The way that he competes, the way that he plays. He plays full speed. He plays full speed all the time. He doesn't like to come out for a single snap, and that includes practice. He practices that way. Therefore, he earns his performance by the way that he prepares himself. He's got a strong, strong, strong desire to win, to have success and be the best player he can. Working hard. He's a good leader as well. So, I think there's a lot of him that also believes that by doing it he can show others how to do it. That's, rounded up into just a few words, that has a lot to do with it."

On Eddie Williams strength and skill: "Strong, he's got very good strength, and his athleticism. He's got great hands. You watch him. I mean he's out there going against defensive backs. We throw a ball to him in the flat or a hitch or different deals like that, you seldom see the first guy bring him down. He makes a move and that guy misses, and then all of sudden he's ten yards down the field and there are maybe three or four bodies on him that eventually get him to come down. He's got a strong, strong will."

On changing the defensive game plan to keep the Nevada quarterback and offense in check: "We need to get better at executing our package, and we did that this last week. We need to have the parts of our package that fit what it is that they do with their running game and their throwing game and be able to execute it, but certainly #10 (Kaepernick) has everybody's attention. And you know I'm not taking anything away from their other guys. I think their other guys are pretty good players too. That receiver, #4 (Mitchell Marko), he's a good player. That running back (Luke Lippencott) is a good player. I mean, they've done a good job. They've got some weapons. Kaepernick is playing pretty special right now."

On whether Maurice Shaw will return to the Idaho lineup this week: "I do not expect to have Shaw back this week, no. I don't expect to have Shiloh (Keo) back this week either, and I would expect that Corey White (knee) would be with us this week. I think those are the guys."

If Idaho's team suffered any injuries during the San Diego State game last Saturday: "We had some guys that were banged up, some guys had to come in and out of the game. At this point in time I expect that those guys will be able to play this week."

Whether Coach Akey was happy with the way Jeromy Jones took over for Shiloh Keo at safety last Saturday weekend: "I thought Jeromy did some very good things in the game, and he responded to it. I thought he improved from the performance of the previous week, and it was more of a full time role. I saw a lot of things that he did naturally that indicate to me that we're going to have a good player on our hands. I thought he did do a pretty good job, yes, in an expanded role."

ALL Vandals Top Stories