On Saturday night at 7pm, noseguard OGA FAUMUI and the Idaho Vandals head to Fresno, California to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. The 'Dogs, famous for the 'Anytime, Anywhere' line, have a perennially rugged team and this year have beaten UCLA in Pasadena, lost by three to Big-10 power Wisconsin, then inexplicably lost last weekend to Hawaii. Idaho's young team will have its hands full.
This Saturday the Vandals (1-5) will take on the Fresno State
Bulldogs (3-2), continuing Western Athletic Conference play. Fresno State has a 6-4 lead against Idaho
in the series with five consecutive wins dating back to 1978. The series began in 1945 at Fresno, a 13-12 Bulldog win. Idaho won the next four games in the series from 1956-67. In the Pat Hill era, the Dogs are 3-0 vs. Idaho and look to continue that streak on Saturday. Even more painful for the Vandals, the Bulldogs offense is coordinated by one the all time great Vandals in Doug Nussmeier. The Bulldogs are coming off a shocking and heartbreaking loss to Hawaii
, and the Vandals are… well… in a state of shock? The season is just not going well for the Vandals, but it won't keep another Saturday game from offering some glimmer of hope for the Vandal faithful.
Fresno State's Offense
Sophomore linebacker JONATHAN FARAIMO (5-11, 245) is part of a Vandal linebacking corps that will be working to contain the Bulldogs.
Bulldog Quaterback Tom Brandstater
(6-5, 220, Sr) is coming off his worst performance this season turning the ball over four times (3 interceptions and 1 fumble). But the senior has been a steady performer and will pose problems for the Vandals secondary, hitting his favorite targets; Bear Pascoe
(6-6, 260, Sr) and junior wr Seyi Ajirotutu
(6-3, 210). Fresno State's ground attack was still unstoppable without starter Ryan Matthews as Lonyae Miller
(5-11, 215, Jr) running for 161 yards and two touchdowns and Anthony Harding
(6-0, 216, Jr) gaining157 yards and the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs ran for a season high of 318 yards against Hawaii, all coming from Miller and Harding. Both had their best nights as Bulldogs. Miller averaged 8.1 yards per carry and 161 yards and Harding 6.8 per carry and 157 rushing yards. Needless to say, they have a ground game. The Bulldogs are ranked 2nd in rushing and 3rd in passing within the WAC.
Fresno State's Defense
The Bulldog defense also has it's fair share of stars. Starting linebackers Chris Carter
( 6-2, 220, SO) and Ben Jacobs
(6-5, 240, SO) rank 13th and 7th respectively in the WAC for tackles per game. That's a serious impact against opponents and their ground attack. Junior Safety Marvin Haynes
(6-1, 205) and Junior Corner A.J. Jefferson
(6-0, 195) are both play makers. Haynes has two interceptions on the year providing the ball hawk every defense needs, and Jefferson is an excellent corner but an even better kick returner. The Bulldogs are ranked 2nd against the run and 3rd against the pass in the WAC.
In fact, Fresno State's special teams are regarded among the best in the nation. Not only are the Bulldogs exceptional at blocking kicks, but they are also a threat to put points on the board every time they take the field. Since Pat Hill took over in 1997, Fresno State has scored 33 touchdowns on special teams and has racked up three safeties.
Vandals on O
Well the one bright spot on the offense seems to be the Nathan Enderle
(6-5, 223, SO) to Eddie Williams
(6-2, 240, SR) hook up. They have accounted for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns which, considering the lack production, is nothing to sneeze at. Consistency... That's what the offense is missing. It can't be said enough; good, consistent offensive drives chew up the clock and rests your defense, and this is the only recipe that will produce a Vandal win. The Vandals need to establish the run and pave the way for Deonte Jackson
(5-8, 191) and Troy Vital
(6-0, 207). If the vandals can establish a ground attack of their own, they can shorten the game, keep it close, and maybe put together a good fourth quarter to try and steal the win.
Vandals on D
True freshman linebacker TRE'SHAWN ROBINSON had a breakout game against Nevada.
The Vandal D has officially been named the worst defense in the nation, allowing all who play them to score at will, or so it seems. Collective sigh… And now the Vandals are facing a running attack that just went off against Hawaii. The linebackers need to step up. Rumor has it there could be a shake up in the lineup, but for now, the solid play of Jonathan Faraimo
(5-11, 245, SO), JoJo Dickson
(6-1, 218, SO), Justin Allen
( 5-11, 218, SO), Treshawn Robinson
(5-11, 240, Fr), and Paul Senescall
(6-1, 228) is essential if the Vandals want to win. Robinson showed signs of what's to come in the future for the Vandals, as he was impressive in his play. The Vandals continue to suffer from a major loss, as defensive team captain junior safety Shiloh Keo
(5-10, 213) remains out of the lineup indefinitely.
Believe it or not, the Vandals actually showed improvement last week against Nevada
. And really, it's almost what the season has boiled down to; week to week improvement.
It was good to see Kama Bailey
help the special teams with his returns, Preston Davis
continue to show promise as a receiver and Treshawn Robinson show Vandal fans how to stop the run. The players don't quit.
Again, it's not the easiest thing to be a Vandal football fan right now, especially with the ankle biting constantly coming from the validation-seekers from the South. But what makes a Vandal a Vandal is vision. And ironically, vision is to look beyond. What makes a Vandal a Vandal is the ability to diversify the pride portfolio when it comes to our alma mater. Something the non-alumni fan bases will never understand.
Vandal pride, Vandals…Vandal pride.