|Vandals head to Nevada|
Idaho takes on the nation's No. 1 rushing attack when it heads to Nevada for Saturday's Western Athletic Conference showdown.
Fortunately, the Vandals (6-1 overall, 3-0 WAC) are taking one of the best rush defenses in the country to counter the Wolf Pack (3-3, 2-0) run game.
"They're running the ball better than anybody in the country," Idaho coach Robb Akey said, "and they've got three guys doing it. You have to look at (Colin Kaepernick) first. He's the trigger man."
Kaepernick is Nevada's do-all quarterback who is averaging 184.8 passing yards to go with 76.8 on the ground for a solid 261.67 total offense yards per game. It's the multiplicity of threats he brings that keeps opposing teams on their toes. He's thrown for nine touchdowns, ran for three and caught another.
"The guy is a very talented player," Akey said.
Also out of the back field is a duo - Luke Lippincott and Vai Taua, who are helping push the Wolf Pack run game to an average of 292.83 yards per game. Idaho, however, counters with a run defense that has been stout all fall. The Vandals are yielding just 96 yards per game.
"That's the challenge out there for our defense," said Akey, noting the multi-faceted Nevada offense. "We're going to have to be very good with what we do. We have to play better on third down than we did last week. We have to keep their big plays to a minimum and we need to find a way to make our own.
"We need to be aggressive with what we do and tackle better than we did last week."
Leading the Vandal defensive front is last week's WAC Defensive Player of the Week - end Aaron Lavarias. With Lavarias and Andre Ferguson on the ends and captain Jonah Sataraka (four TFL, three sacks) and Michael Cosgrove inside, the Idaho run defense has been its most proficient in years. They're supported by a linebacking corps that is young but talented and tenacious. Tre'Shawn Robinson has a team-best six tackles for loss, while JoJo Dickson is second on the team in tackles with 39.
The secondary is led by junior Shiloh Keo, who tops the team with three interceptions and 64 total tackles. Again, youth dominates the defensive backfield but the growth can be seen weekly.
Offensively, the Vandals have impressed. Their conversation rate on third down is second in the nation and last week junior quarterback Nathan Enderle completed a whopping 82 percent of his passes (he's completed 64.4 percent for the year). His band of receivers is 12 deep to go with three stalwart backs.
DeMaundray Woolridge has taken over the lead at running back with 530 yards with Princeton McCarty totaling 420 and Deonte' Jackson contributing 180. Aptly nicknamed 'The Diesel,' Woolridge has an uncanny knack for finding his way into the end zone. With last week's four, which ties for the second-best outing in the nation this fall, he upped his total to 12 TDs to tie for seventh in the nation in scoring.
"This team is operating well as a football team," Akey said. "I want an attack-oriented style of football."