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One of the most difficult coaching positions for Robb Akey to fill this year was the job of defensive coordinator.

"Because I am a former defensive coordinator," he said, "it’s not always easy to say, ‘all right you go run the defense now’."

Luckily for Akey, he found a replica of his aggressive defensive mindset in Mark Criner.

"He and I share a lot of the same beliefs about how defense needs to be played. He’s going to be aggressive and he’s going to get after it."

To realize the positive aspects that he brings to the table, Akey simply points to everything that Criner has accomplished in his 16-year year career.

"At each of the spots that he has been a coordinator, they’ve been the No. 1 defense in their conference," Akey said. "At Middle Tennessee and Cincinnati, they were ranked in the top 20 defenses in all of Division I-A."

Criner now is making his return to football in the state of Idaho after graduating from Boise State University where, from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, his father, Jim, was the head coach. Akey appreciates his new defensive coordinators ties to the Vandals’ cross-state rival.

"I like the fact that he played down at BSU, so he has a lot of motivation to beat those guys," Akey said.

Motivation to beat a rival or not, Akey has nothing but praise for Mark Criner.

"He’s proven his ability to get it done," Akey said. "He’s a good fit all the way around."

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