Idaho's offense generating a meager 16 points in their first two games. Last week's 45-35 loss suggested there is light in the end of the tunnel but it's a long tunnel. With continued improvement from their freshman quarterback and numerous JC transfers, Idaho could become a team on the rise, but it's important to keep in mind they're starting from rock bottom.
| Cougars (2-1) vs Vandals (0-3)|
AT A GLANCE
7:30 pm Pacific Time
Players to Know
Chad Chalich, QB: Chalich is a Coeur d'Alene legend, passing for 6,500 yards and 74 touchdowns in high school. Although only a freshman, Chalich's passing has looked solid. He has completed 66 percent of this throws for 648 yards and three touchdowns without throwing a single interception. That is remarkable considering he has been sacked 21 times in three games.
Josh McCain, RB: Idaho uses a running back by committee approach, and McCain has been the most consistent. Take note: he is a converted quarterback and is likely to throw the ball on some trick plays.
Desmon Epps, WR: Epps is a JC transfer Petrino brought in to try and give an immediate boost on offense and Epps has more than twice as many catches as any other Vandal through three games. At 5-10, 170 pounds, he isn't the biggest target but he is quick.
Idaho operates much the time out of twin tight end formations in an effort to control the line of scrimmage – it hasn't worked. Early in games, they prefer to run the ball – nearly at a 2-1 clip while the game is within reach, but that generally has not lasted very long.
Chalich is a decent looking quarterback, but his protection is hugely suspect, and the WSU secondary is unlikely to be seriously tested. Idaho will try to run the ball on the Cougs and shorten the game.
Average time of possession: Idaho is averaging about 5:30 on the plus side here. Despite a serious deficit in yards and first downs, the Vandals have enjoyed a significant advantage and will try to keep the WSU offense on the sidelines as much as they can.
THE VANDALS ON DEFENSE
Players to Know
Marc Millen, Eric Tuipulotu, & Juan Martinez, LB: Petrino, trying to win right away, immediately added a ton of JC talent to this team including all three starting linebackers. They should get better as the season goes on. Millen already leads the team in tackles, sacks and tackles-for-loss.
Bradley Njoku, S: The junior safety has been a contributor since his freshman year and is now the veteran leader of the secondary. From this vantage point, he is Connor Halliday's biggest threat.
Idaho's defensive coordinator is former WSU defensive back Ronnie Lee, who held the same job at Minnesota from 2008-10. He is transitioning the Vandals to a more pass rush-heavy 3-4, but the initial results have been disastrous. Idaho has yet to hold an opponent to under 40 points.
Idaho lacks serious pass rushers and experienced corners. Halliday should have the entire playbook at his disposal and if he doesn't, it's because WSU wants to hold some things back for conference play.
Yards allowed per play: 7.1. Idaho really does not do anything particularly well on defense, allowing 6.1 yards per rush and 8.4 yards per pass attempt. This is doubly concerning for Petrino in his first three games were seen as the softer part of the schedule.
THE VANDALS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Austin Rehkow handles all the kicking duties for Idaho. He is a solid punter but has made only one of four field goal attempts this season.