VANDAL GAMEDAY: Idaho hosts Nevada

This afternoon defensive end JOSH SHAW and the Idaho Vandals host Nevada in a Western Athletic Conference matchup in the Dome (2pm PST kickoff). The Wolfpack bring a powerful offense into Moscow this weekend, and are coming off an impressive win last weekend over in-state rival UNLV. They are led by dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick who accounted for a staggering 416 yards last week.

Today the Idaho Vandals (1-4) and the Nevada Wolfpack (2-2) meet for the 26th time in the series, playing at 2pm PST in the Dome this afternoon. Nevada has a 16-9 lead in the series and it doesn't look promising for Idaho with the Wolfpack coming off an impressive win over in state rival UNLV and the Vandals coming off, yet another, ugly loss, this one to the San Diego State Aztecs. In the grand scheme of college football, it's safe to say the Vandals have solidified their spot at the bottom of Division One football. Coach Chris Ault's coaching legacy can't go without being mentioned. He's 193-87-1, for cryin' out loud. But the Vandal faithful will rest there hopes in "that's why we play the games", and brace themselves for Saturday's WAC clash.

Nevada WolfPack and the Pistol Offense

Wolfpack Quaterback Colin Kaepernick (6-6, 215, SO) is a baller. He can run and throw. Last week he rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns, including a 66-yarder, on 18 carries. Kaepernick also completed 11 of 16 passes for 176 yards and two scores, including a 70-yard completion to wide receiver Chris Wellington (6-1, 185, SO). The rest of his arsenal in the pistol offense include senior receivers Mike McCoy (6-0, 190, SR), and Marko Mitchell (6-3, 210, SR). Mitchell has caught 16 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. But Kaepernick is a monster on the gridiron. The Vandals will have their hands full with this guy, and must put a man on him at all times.

Sophomore runningback Vai Taua (5-10, 225) added 123 rushing yards on 19 carries and a 4-yard touchdown run. Paving the way for the Wolfpack are tackles Alonzo Durham (6-4, 285, JR) and Mike Gallett (6-6, 295, SO) with the inside consisting of senior guard Greg Hall (6-3, 295), senior center Dominic Green (6-3, 295) and sophomore guard John Bender (6-8, 325). Tightend Virgil Green (6-5, 225, SO) is mostly used for blocking but has good hands and could see looks in the redzone.

Nevada WolfPack's Stout Defense

The Wolfpack have a good set of ends in Dontay Moch, 6-1, 245, SO and Kevin Basped, 6-6, 240, SO who have 5 sacks and 3 sacks respectively. In the middle, defensive tackles Chris Slack (6-5, 270, JR) and Mundrae Clifton (6-2, 290, SR) will provide pressure in the middle, conscentrating on stopping the run. Their entire pass rush is effective. SAM Backer Jerome Johnson (6-1, 240, SR) MIKE Backer Joshua Mauga (6-2, 245, SR) and WOLF Backer Brandon Marshall (6-1, 230, RS-FR) have 10 sacks as a unit. Needless to say, the Pack is getting to the quarterback. More bad news for the Vandals is that the Wolfpack have only allowed 78.8 yards rushing per game thus far this season. They are stout against the run.

The defensive backfield is experienced. At cornerback Mike Evans (5-10, 180) and junior Antoine Thompson (6-1, 195) will man the receivers while strong safety Jonathon Amaya (6-2, 190, JR) and free safety Uche Anyanwu (6-4, 220, SR) will roam the field looking for big hits. Anyanwu leads the team in tackles 29 total and 2 sacks. Evans is second with 18 total tackles and 1 sack. The unit has five interceptions in the four games it has played.

How Can the Vandals Be Successful?

On offense, it's consistency. At times, the offense runs perfectly, driving the ball down the field at will; a good mixture of run and pass. But more often than not it stalls. Enderle and the receivers are hot and cold, making consistency the underlying issue. Not to mention consistent play out of the entire offensive line has been fleeting. Deonte Jackson's health only adds to the offensive woes. When healthy, Jackson adds a spark to the running game. But will he play? Outside of Eddie Williams, the receiving crew shows promise, but again no consistency. Good, consistent offensive drives chew up the clock, rest your defense and score points, and that is what the Vandals need to do.

Keys – Let Nathan Enderle (6-5, 223, SO) throw down the field early in this game to spark his confidence right out of the gate. This means targeting Eddie Williams (6-2, 240, SR) as he is Enderle's favorite target. The hogs need to bust open holes for sophomore sensation sophomore Deonte Jackson ( 5-8, 191). A successful running game will allow the Vandals to throw.

On defense, the recipe seems obvious; stop Kaepernick. This is easier said than done, especially when stopping anyone seems to be a problem for the Vandals Defense. So really, it's not about stopping the Wildcats O, but more like, slowing it down. The Vandals need a few three and outs to win this game. There is no if, ands or buts about it.

Keys - With a nightmare of a quarterback coming to the Dome, the defense must simply stay put and not over pursue. The defense needs a good pass rush from senior ends Taylor Rust (6-2, 232) and Josh Shaw (6-5, 253), while the linebackers need to have their best game to date. If Jonathan Fariamo (5-11, 245, SO), JoJo Dickson (6-1, 218, SO) and Justin Allen (5-11, 218, SO) stick to their assignments, they could bottle up the duel threat Kaepernick poses. STAY HOME! Fill your gaps and don't over pursue.

Vandal Nation, the time is upon us to show our strength through character. It's time to back our coaches and players as they continue through this 2008 football season. Coach Akey has not faltered on his vision, and he has not given up on the season. The players haven't given up. Have the fans?

It's too early in the season to give up, and it's too early in Akey's reign to call for change. Take time to notice the good. Take time to notice the progress of the team, and realize that the change in culture cannot happen over night. In order to take steps forward, you sometimes have to take a few steps back. What kind of Vandal are you? Is your ego too fragile to endure the Akey vision? Or are you the type of Vandal that has no problem wearing the Gold and Silver week in and week out, no excuses, and with two words on the tip of your tongue; Go Vandals!

ALL Vandals Top Stories