CFN Take: Idaho Bombed On By Troy
Posted Nov 15, 2014

2014 Idaho Vandals ... Head Coach: Paul Petrino

Idaho Vandals

2014 Schedule
2014 Record: 1-9

Aug. 30 at Florida CANCEL
Sep. 6 at ULM L 38-31
Sep. 13 Western Mich L 45-33
Sep. 20 at Ohio L 34-10
Sep. 27 South Alabama L 34-10
Oct. 4 at Texas State L 35-30
Oct. 11 at Ga Southern L 47-24
Oct. 18 New Mexico St W 29-17
Nov. 1 Arkansas State L 44-28
Nov. 8 at San Diego St L 35-21
Nov. 15 Troy L 34-17
Nov. 29 at Appalachian State
Nov. 15 Troy 34, at Idaho 17
And You Care Because … Brandon Silvers threw two touchdown passes to Bryan Holmes from 41 and 51 yards out, and Jordan Chunn ran for a 13-yard touchdown to give Troy the 24-17 first half lead. The Trojan defense clamped down getting a 28-yard Montres Kitchens pick six and not allowing a point in the second. Idaho managed a 64-yard Joshua McCain touchdown catch and a one-yard Jerrrel Brown scoring dash to keep it up in the first half, but the O sputtered and made too many mistakes in the second.
What Else? Time of possession: Troy 38:45 – Idaho 21:15
- Troy RB Jordan Chunn ran 28 times for 193 yards and a score
- Idaho QB Matt Linehan completed 14-of-36 passes for 269 yards and a score with three interceptions
- Trot QB Brandon Silvers completed 19-of-25 passes for 231 yards and a score
Game Rating: C-

Nov. 8 at San Diego State 35, Idaho 21
And You Care Because … Ezell Ruffin started out the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown catch and ended it with a 28-yard score as San Diego State got through a rough first half to take over in the second. Quinn Kaehler threw three touchdown passes, including a 58-yarder to Eric Judge. Idaho got a 13-yard Chad Chalich touchdown run and a 51-yard scoring play to Joshua McCain to pull within seven, but Ruffin’s second score was enough.
What Else? San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey ran 26 times for 142 yards and a score
- Idaho WR Joshua McCain caught seven passes for 101 yards and a score
- San Diego State QB Quinn Kaehler completed 14-of-22 passes for 249 yards and a score
- Idaho RB Elijhaa Penny ran 22 times for 90 yards and a score
Game Rating: B- 

Nov. 1 Arkansas State 44, at Idaho 28
And You Care Because … Michael Gordon started off the scoring with a 44-yard run, and just when it seemed like Idaho was about to answer, Rocky Hayes returned a fumble 93 yards for a touchdown. The Vandals took the lead late into the third quarter with Elijhaa Penny and Jerrel Brown each running for two scores, but ASU and Gordon rolled from there, with the ASU back running for three more touchdowns as part of a 21-unanswered point run.
What Else? Turnovers: Idaho 8 – Arkansas State 1
- Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon ran 17 times for 105 yards and five touchdowns
- Idaho RB Elijhaa Penny ran 16 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 21-of-28 passes for 244 yards, and ran 26 times for 73 yards
Game Rating: B

Oct. 18 at Idaho 29, New Mexico State 17
And You Care Because … The Vandals took advantage of several mistakes with Richard Montgomery starting out the scoring on a four-yard run and Joshua McCain catching a 49-yard scoring pass, never trailing the whole way. NMSU stayed in the game on a 79-yard Larry Rose III touchdown run, but it was all Idaho after it got close. Austin Rehkow came up with three field goals and Jerrel Brown ran a 14-yard touchdown run to pull away in the fourth.
What Else? Total yards: Idaho 536 – New Mexico State 314
- Time of possession: Idaho 37:47 – New Mexico State 22:13
- Idaho RB Jerrel Brown ran 23 times for 151 yards and a score
- New Mexico State RB Larry Rose III ran 17 times for 155 yards and two scores
Game Rating: B-

Oct. 11 at Georgia Southern 47, Idaho 24
And You Care Because … Kevin Ellison ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and Matt Dobson returned an interception for a touchdown as Georgia Southern didn’t have any problems with the Vandals. The Eagles were up 20-10 at halftime, and took control in the third quarter with a three-yard Alfred Ramsby touchdown run finishing up a 21-point scoring run to put the game away. Elijhaa Penny ran for three scores for the Vandals.
What Else? Georgia Southern QB Kevin Ellison completed 7-of-11 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, and he ran 12 times for 32 yards and two scores
- Idaho RB Elijhaa Penny ran 21 times for 75 yards and three touchdowns
- Total yards: Georgia Southern 550 – Idaho 365
- The two teams combined to convert 18-of-31 third down chances
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 4 at Texas State 35, Idaho 30
And You Care Because … Terrence Franks ran wild, taking off for touchdown runs from 70, 96 and 70 yards, and Tyler Jones threw a touchdown pass and ran for a 27-yarder, but Texas State had a tough time shaking Idaho. The Vandals kept up the pace helped by two touchdown runs from Elijaa Penny and short scores from Richard Montgomery and Aaron Duckworth. Penny’s second run pulled Idaho within five late, but the Bobcats hung on.
What Else? Texas State RB Terrence Franks ran 15 times for 284 yards and three scores
- Turnovers: Texas State 4 – Idaho 2
- Time of possession: Idaho 41:12 – Texas State 18:48
- Idaho QB Matt Linehan completed 33-of-52 passes for 347 yards and two picks
Game Rating: B

Sept. 27 South Alabama 34, at Idaho 10
And You Care Because … South Alabama got up 27-0 with Brandon Bridge running for a 54-yard score and hitting Claude Garrett on a 51-yard scoring pass and getting a 59-yard interception return for a score from Montell Garner. Idaho finally got in the board in the third quarter with a 37-yard Austin Rehkow field goal and a ten-yard Joshua McCain touchdown catch, but that was it. Jay Jones put it away on an 18-yard touchdown dash.
What Else? USA QB Brandon Bridge completed 15-of-25 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he ran six times for 71 yards and a touchdown
- Idaho was held to 30 yards on 33 carries
- Total yards: USA 429 – Idaho 269
- USA RB Jay Jones ran 18 times for 108 yards and a score
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 20 at Ohio 36, Idaho 24
And You Care Because … Ohio got up 17-0, but needed a three-yard A.J. Ouellette touchdown run in the final minutes to put the game away. Idaho got back into the game helped by two Joshua McCain touchdown catches from 34 and 52 yards out along with a one-yard Elijhaa Penny scoring run. Ouellette also ran for a one-yard score in the first and Derrius Vick threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Sebastian Smith.
What Else? Idaho QB Matt Lineham completed 33-of-56 passes for 353 yards and two scores with three picks
- Ohio RB A.J. Ouellette ran 27 times for 132 yards and two scores
- Time of possession: Ohio 39:08 – Idaho 20:52
- Idaho WR Joshua McCain caught five passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 13 Western Michigan 45, at Idaho 33
And You Care Because … Western Michigan opened up a tight game with a 57-yard Daniel Braverman touchdown run and a 39-yard Jarvion Franklin scoring dash late in the first half, and Idaho couldn’t recover. Franklin ran for 211 yards and three scores on 33 carries for the Broncos, and Braverman caught five passes for 122 yards and two scores. Corey Davis was the only other WMU player to catch a pass, making five grabs for 119 yards and a touchdown. Idaho got 362 yards and three scores from QB Matt Linehan, but eight penalties and the WMU big plays were too much to overcome. The Broncos committed ten penalties.
Game Rating: C

Sept. 6 at ULM 38, Idaho 31
And You Care Because … Centrarius Donald ran for a one-yard score with nine seconds to play to cap off a 73-yard drive in the final minute to break the 31-31 tie and come up with the win. ULM seemed to have things in hand with a 21-7 first quarter lead on a 34-yard Donald run and two Pete Thomas touchdown passes, and it took a ten point lead into the fourth on a 21-yard Donald run, but Idaho kept pressing with Matt Linehan throwing two touchdown passes including a 32-yard scoring play to Deon Watson with just over four minutes to play, but the defense couldn’t hold.
What Else? ULM QB Pete Thomas completed 24-of-44 passes for 384 yards and two score with a pick, and Centrarius Donald ran 20 times for 111 yards and three touchdowns to go along with two catches for 22 yards.
- Idaho committed 11 penalties for 115 yards with three penalties. ULM got flagged five times for 40 yards and turned it over once.
- Idaho QB Matt Linehan completed 26-of-47 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns with two picks.
- With the Florida game cancelled, this was Idaho’s first game of the season.
Game Rating: A

Idaho 2014 Preview

They survived the post-WAC apocalypse, and now they have to start trying to be better at playing college football.

It’s been a tough go for the Idaho Vandals.

Not only do they have to exist in a state with Boise State growing into a power over the last decade-plus, but they needed to hold their breath while finding a place to land after the WAC ceased to exist as a football conference. Life as an independent wasn’t much better than life in the WAC, going 1-11 last season and getting obliterated by double digits in every loss until the 24-16 defeat to New Mexico State to end the misery.

But now there’s a new beginning. The Vandals are a part of the Sun Belt, and while it’s not as nice as it would be to join the geographic right fit of the Mountain West, at least the program has a home. It’s time to make the rebuilding job work.

With just four wins over the last three seasons and just one winning campaign since 1999, it’s been hard to generate much interest or noise, and that was reflected in the snub from the Mountain West types.

The 8-5 shocker of a 2009 season seems like it was 100 years ago now, but head man Paul Petrino is a promising coach with more than just the right last name. It’s a true process to get the players to fit what he wants to do, and it’s going to take a little while longer before there’s a big turnaround. Fortunately, Idaho is in the right conference to do it.

Petrino’s biggest job is to do what Idaho hasn’t been able to do for years – find something that really works.

The defense continued to be among the worst in the nation, not helped by playing Florida State last season, but with so many players thrown into the rotation, there’s plenty of experience and lots of different options to play around with to try to find a little bit of production after finishing dead last in the nation in scoring D.

Can the offense keep up the pace? The line will be full of veterans, and the passing game had its moments, but the Vandals still averaged just 18.2 points per outing and sputtered way too often. Petrino knows offense – it’ll eventually come around.

Just try to improve. This doesn’t have to be a massive turnaround campaign, and the Vandals aren’t going to shock the world, but as long as there’s something, anything to see as a positive, the year will be a success.  

What to watch for on offense: The offense has to be more efficient and get the chains moving on third downs. Things were better after failing to convert 30% of their third down chances in either or 2011 or 2012, but it was still rough when drive after drive stalled to a dead stop because the offense couldn’t get the running game going to make a manageable third down chance. The mediocre quarterbacks couldn’t make the basic throws, and the defense came back on the field and got rocked. The quarterback play has to improve by leaps and bounds, but the big help has to come from came up with its best season since 2009, but still stunk.

What to watch for on defense: Pass defense, pass defense, pass defense. The Vandals were ripped apart by any passing game that felt like throwing a forward pass. The pass rush wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t help a lick for a pass defense that gave up 40 touchdown passes with just ten picks, allowing 300 yards or more in seven games and got lit up for over 400 yards by North Texas and Fresno State and 533 yards by Old Dominion. With an offense that can’t keep up the pace and doesn’t have the firepower, the Vandal defensive backs have to come up with a few stops here and there.

The team will be far better if … the lines aren’t god awful. The defensive line couldn’t hold up against any running game – even though most offenses were having too much fun bombing away – and the offensive front couldn’t keep the quarterbacks upright. The Vandals allowed a whopping 52 sacks on the season and 106 tackles for loss – the backfield didn’t have any time to do anything. It’s not like the lines are going to become brick walls overnight, but there’s enough experience returning to be better. If the lines are okay, the season will be, too.

The schedule: It’s the Sun Belt, so it’s not like the Vandals have to deal with Alabama and Auburn, but they do have to face Florida to start the season before kicking off Sun Belt life on the road at ULM. With three road games in the first four weeks, wrapped around the home opener against Western Michigan, it could be a bit of a rough start before hosting South Alabama. And then it’s back on the road for two long flights to Texas State and Georgia Southern before the winnable date with New Mexico State. There’s no Louisiana-Lafayette to deal with, and Arkansas State has to come to Moscow.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Dezmon Epps. The Vandals need one of the quarterback prospects to step up and become one of the stars, and if that happens, Epps is a lock for all-star honors. He’s not huge, but he’s quick and reliable, doing a great job of being the No. 1 target in a bad situation. He should get a little bit of help with some decent veteran receivers around to take the heat off, but he’ll be the go-to guy.

Best defensive player: Senior DT Quayshawn Buckley. One of the few bright spots on the defensive front, the veteran tackle turned in a nice year as a playmaker in the backfield with seven sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Quick off the ball and with the size to hold his own, he has a shot to make some noise in a pro camp as a three-technique tackle and part of a rotation. With end Maxx Forde back to push from the outside, Buckley should shine inside.

Key player to a successful season: Senior OT Niklaus Von Rotz and sophomore OT Mason Woods. The 6-5, 292-pound Von Rotz and the 6-9, 333-pound Woods have to make life better for the quarterbacks who spent most of last year getting drilled. Pass protection has been a huge issue for the Vandals for a long, long time, but they have blockers with the size to potentially improve the situation. If they’re great, the offense will be far better.

The season will be a success if … the Vandals win four games. Baby steps. Ohio, Arkansas State and San Diego State are the only three teams on the schedule who went to a bowl last season, and while that doesn’t mean Idaho will all of a sudden be able to get past Florida, it’s a manageable slate. There are enough winnable games to get to four wins, which would be as many as the program generated over the past three seasons.

Key game: Sept. 27 vs. South Alabama. It’s a long trip to get up to Idaho, especially from Alabama. It’s not like the Jaguars are coming by covered wagon, but the 2,425 miles still makes it a world away. Can the Vandals establish themselves at home in the Sun Belt and make the Kibbie Dome a dangerous place for conference teams. With road games at Texas State and Georgia Southern to follow, Idaho might need this win to avoid a rough patch before hosting New Mexico State.

2014 Fun Stats:
- Scoring: Opponents 561 – Idaho 218
- Third Down Conversions: Opponents 80-of-171 (47%) – Idaho 69-of-209 (33%)
- Kickoff Return Average: Opponents 30.7 yards – Idaho 20.6 yards

- 2014 Idaho Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

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