Morning in Vandal Land?

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Sept. 17 – Idaho finally plays a game that will count toward a Football Championship Subdivision playoff bid.

The Vandals open the doors to the Kibbie Dome for the first time this season at noon today against Drake (airing on SWX), as both teams will each be looking for their first win of the season.

Idaho (0-2) lost its first two games to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents Power Five. Drake (0-2) fell to the mighty FCS at North Dakota State 56-14, then lost 17-14 at home last week to Division II NCAA Missouri S&T.

The two sidelines will have very different vibes, but whoever comes out on top will gain some momentum heading into next week.

Here are some things to watch out for:

An opportunity to run the ball

Idaho offensive coordinator Luke Schleusner was adamant about establishing the running game despite the lack of success.

Offense is averaging 94 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry.

The Vandals should see those numbers increase against the Bulldogs, who allowed 393 rushing yards in two weeks.

Senior Roshaun Johnson and freshman Anthony Woods should be eager to hit the field after watching the Bulldogs’ defense on tape.

Opposing runners entered open ground and gained most of their yards on chunk plays against Drake.

With a power and speed duo like Woods and Johnson, chances are one of them can smash a big one.

Idaho’s offensive line should also gain confidence against Drake’s front.

The starting five has struggled this season to open holes for Woods and Johnson at the second tier. They also struggled to keep freshman quarterback Gevani McCoy clean in the pocket. Idaho has allowed 10 sacks in two games, while Drake has just three sacks.

A mobile quarterback

The threat of a quarterback playing with his legs wasn’t much of a problem for Idaho in its first two games. Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward ran the ball five times for 18 yards, and Indiana quarterback Conner Bazelak had a run for -4 yards.

Drake’s man under center, Ian Corwin, isn’t afraid to leave the pocket and take matters into his own hands.

Corwin ran the ball 17 times for 53 yards last week but fumbled three times and lost one. In the air, he was 15 for 40 for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

The Vandals defense hopes to take advantage of this not only to go after Corwin, but also to get more “shots on goal”.

Idaho has five takeaways so far, and with how loose Drake seems with football, he has a chance to add more.

something to believe in

When Idaho opened the 2021 season against Division III Simon Fraser with a 78-0 victory, it was expected.

The feelings are similar about this one. On paper, the Vandals are the better team and should win against a less superior football program.

If what the athletic department says is true, the Dome will be filled with Vandal fans, and it will be because the fans bought the product on the field.

The Vandals could win a close game and the fans will always believe in the team. Idaho could blow up the Bulldogs and Moscow could be an all-night party.

But the game means more than Idaho is getting its season back on track. It brings hope that better days are ahead for a program that has long awaited a light at the end of the tunnel.

Pixley can be reached at (208) 848-2290, [email protected] or on Twitter @TreebTalks.

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