Here's our Q&A with GOVANDALS.NET 1) Off to a tough start, what's the mood and attitude of the Vandal's going into the TXST game?
Frustration. I think everyone from the players, coaches, and fans expected a better showing last weekend at home against South Alabama. The Vandals are coming off three seasons of 1-2 wins per year, and most programs don’t just bounce back from that overnight. It takes time to rebuild. But going into last weekend’s game, given solid performances (at least offensively) in the first two weeks of the season, a closer game was anticipated. It will be interesting to see how the team rebounds from that loss as they had to San Marcos to take on a rugged opponent in the Bobcats.
2) How good is the connection of Matt Linehan and Joshua McCain and why?
Through the first four games, Linehan-to-McCain has become one of the biggest highlights of the season and something to look forward to for Idaho fans. McCain came to Idaho last year as a JUCO quarterback and was a backup who saw plenty of action under center last fall. He made the move to receiver in the spring and plays like a natural. It can’t hurt that as a former quarterback he has a good sense of what Linehan is trying to do. They’ve been on the same page throughout the season, although they had a miscue last week that cost the team dearly. Linehan is the son of former St. Louis Ram head coach Scott Linehan, himself a former Idaho quarterback. Between Coach Petrino, McCain, and his NFL coach father, Matt (a redshirt freshman) is getting quality tutoring and is easily one of Idaho’s most consistent performers.
3) What type of offense does Idaho primarily run and who are key players?
The Vandals run a spread offense and it is powered by the performance of their young signal caller, Matt Linehan. He won a battle for the starting job that began last spring and wasn’t finalized until late in fall camp. So far on this season he’s thrown for 1,278 yards and nine touchdowns while being under heavy duress (Idaho has given up an eye popping 18 sacks on the year, only UConn, Wyoming, Wake Forest, and SMU have given up more). McCain leads Idaho with 443 receiving yards and six touchdowns, while sophomore speedster Richard Montgomery has racked up 269 yards on 24 receptions and touchdown. Together the tandem gives the Vandals their best opportunity to stretch the field and some explosion. The Vandal line struggled last week against South Alabama, and will lean on senior center Mike Marboe to get this group playing as a unit again. In the running game, the Vandals are still searching for consistency carrying the rock, but look for senior Jerrel Brown to lead the team in carries.
4) What type of defense does Idaho run and who are key players?
Idaho lines up primarily in a base 4-3 alignment. They’ll switch into nickel based on the situation and personnel across the line of scrimmage. The defensive front has played well at times, led inside by senior tackle Quayshawn Buckley (24 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and two QB hurries), and on the outside by senior captain Maxx Forde (17 tackles, 1 sack and three QB hurries). The linebackers have also had their moments of playing well, led by junior outside linebacker Marc Millan (37 tackles, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble). But it’s the Vandal defensive backfield that has appeared the most vulnerable this year. Collectively Idaho defensive backs have just two picks on the year, both of which were made by hard-hitting safety Chris Edwards, a JUCO transfer who joined the team in the fall. Idaho needs this group to develop quickly. Frankly, Idaho’s best defender may be sophomore punter Austin Rehkow, a Walter Camp All-American and FBS Independent Special Teams Player of the Year last year who led the nation with 47.8 yards per boot.
5) Your prediction and a general reason why.
It would be a stretch to predict an Idaho win Saturday. The Vandal defense made some individual strides last weekend against South Alabama, but at the same time they gave up 34 points to a Jaguar team that was averaging 11 per game going in. The week before they gave up 36 to an Ohio team also averaging 11 per game before playing Idaho. Offensively, the Vandals have a good passing attack and a few weapons in the arsenal, but if Idaho can’t establish anything on the ground, and if the defense continues to struggle, it will be a rough night for the silver and gold. Given that Texas State is averaging 39.5 points per game offensively, is home after two weeks on the road, and is wanting to build on their Tulsa win, it will take Idaho playing their best game of the year to overcome the 17 point spread.
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