The message to the Idaho Vandals
this week has been clear and repetitive: Focus and finish. Pay attention to the
most minute of details.
That, interim coach Jason Gesser
says, is what can enable them to break through when the going gets tough –
which it may Saturday when the Vandals take on Brigham Young University at
Provo, Utah, in a game that kicks off at 8:15 MT for an ESPNU audience.
“The main focus,” said Gesser as
he prepped the Vandals as head coach for the second time, “is going to be all the
little things; details. The biggest problem right now is we’re not paying attention
to all those details. We have to focus on the little things.”
Every step, every second will
count as the 1-8 Vandals take on the 5-4 Cougars, who are coming off their bye
week after defeating Georgia Tech in their most recent outing. In the Cougars,
Gesser sees a talented, confident unit.
“Their team right now is playing
with confidence,” Gesser said. “They have a couple of guys that are standouts.
Everybody else, they’re guys that have a passion, a confidence. They come out
there and they’re playing hard every single play. It we don’t not only match
that but overcome it, we could be in for a very long night.”
Logan Bushnell will see his third
start as quarterback with Taylor Davis likely to see his first action in the
second quarter – much like Gesser planned last week against San Jose State.
Between them, they have a host of capable receivers with senior Mike Scott
leading the way with 45 catches for 479 yards. Junior Jahrie Level has matched
Scott’s yardage but has done it on 38 catches – the same reception tally Najee
Lovett, another junior, has totaled. Lovett has 429 yards.
Senior Gary Walker continues to be
the defensive leader with 76 tackles, which includes 47 solo. He also has six
pass breakups – a team best. Senior Homer Mauga is the tackles-for-loss leader
with 6.5 with QuayShawne Buckley and Benson Mayowa totaling six each. Mauga
also has two interceptions – the same as freshman Solomon Dixon.
The Vandals are 1-8 overall and 1-3 in Western Athletic Conference play, while the Cougars are 5-4 overall and are coming off their bye week.
Jason Gesser will be heading into his second game as a collegiate head coach when the Vandals take on the Spartans. Gesser also wears two other hats – those of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, in addition to his role as interim head coach. He is a graduate of Washington State University where he was an All-American quarterback. He played in the NFL and the CFL before heading to the coaching ranks.
Bronco Mendenhall is in his eighth season with BYU. He is 71-28 during that span. He is a 1988 graduate of Oregon State University, which is where his coaching career began. After spending 1989-99 as a graduate assistant at Oregon State, he became the defensive coordinator at Snow College (1991-92) before a two-year stint at Northern Arizona (1993-94) before returning to Oregon State (1995-96). He then spent one season at Louisiana Tech (1997) before heading to New Mexico (1998-2002). He became BYU’s defensive coordinator in 2003 and was elevated to the head coaching post in 2005.
The series, which has been played intermittently since 1953, is tied at 2-2 after BYU won 42-7 at Provo last season. The teams played three times in the 1950s – 1953 (BYU 20, Idaho 14), 1954 (Idaho 7, BYU 0) and 1955 (Idaho 49, BYU 6).
The game is on ESPNU with Joe Davis calling the play-by-play and Jay Walker providing the analysis.
Tom Morris (play by play) and Evan Ellis (analysis) again are calling the gameday action with KZFN (FM 106.1) as the flagship of the statewide, 14-station network.
Idaho’s captains for the 2012 season are receiver Mike Scott (senior; Palo Alto, Calif.), cornerback Aaron Grymes (senior; Seattle, Wash) and punter Bobby Cowan (senior; Vancouver, Wash.). An additional captain will be selected each week by the coaching staff.
ONTO THE FIELD
The Vandals have added a third element to their entrance onto the playing field. Traditionally, they have carried an American Flag and a battle ax commemorating the tradition of the Vandal. This year, they’ve added a flag that honors the memory of former Idaho receiver Ken McRoyal, who died last summer.