When the Vandals take on Utah State Saturday at 2 p.m. at
the Kibbie Dome, Idaho will be bidding farewell to 20 seniors while at the same
time trying to wash away the distaste of last week’s loss at BYU.
Saturday is Fan Appreciation Day with general admission and student section tickets on sale for $5 for youth and $10 for adults.
“We’re very anxious for them to have a good experience in
their final game in the Dome,” said Akey of the class that includes two players
who were here when he inherited the program, 11 who were in his original recruiting
class, three who have been with the program three years and four who spent two
seasons in Vandal Silver and Gold.
“This game is going to mean a lot to them. We need to feel
good again. We need to come back and play more the way we feel we’re capable of
playing and have some success again.”
For that to happen, the Vandals (2-8, 1-4) have to subdue a
stubborn Utah State (4-5, 2-2) team that, this season, has experienced the same
close-call games as the Vandals. Four of the Aggies’ losses have been by one
score or less – and one in overtime. For the Vandals, it’s been three with one
“You’ll see two football teams that want to get after each
other,” Akey said. “In a lot of ways, we have a similar pattern going. It will
be two snake-bit teams that continue to play hard.”
For the Aggies, the yards have been coming on the ground with
an average of 269.9 per game. For the Vandals, the defense – and punter Bobby
Cowan, have been providing the spark. Cowan is the nation’s best punter and a
Ray Guy Award semifinalist with an average of 47.0 yards per kick and a long
boot of 76 yards. Tre`Shawn Robinson is the league’s fifth best tackler with an
average of 8.8 per game with Gary Walker right behind in a tie for sixth with
8.6 per outing.
“This week means an awful lot in a number of ways and it’s
magnified by a group of seniors,” Akey said. “This senior group has had a lot
of blood, sweat and tears here. For a senior playing you last game at home, it’s
a big deal.”
Quin joined the Vandals in the fall of 2007. He played in six games at quarterback. He continued as a backup quarterback during his sophomore season then moved to the secondary and redshirted in 2009. He played at safety in 12 games as a junior and has been a full-time starter and major contributor in the secondary this season. He is third on the team with 63 tackles and is the team interception leader with two. He is a native of Paris, Texas, and a graduate of Paris High School.
Kama joined the Vandals in 2008 and went to work out of the backfield but primarily was a kick returner. His 955 yards that season are an all-time single-season high for the Vandals with his 41 returns ranking second. His role expanded throughout career and with two games to play, he is ninth on the all-purpose yardage list with 3,014. He is Idaho’s career kickoff return leader (76), kickoff return yardage leader (1,725) and is tied for seventh all-time on the return average list (22.7). He is a graduate of Honolulu’s Damien Memorial High School.
Tyler initially walked on at Idaho in 2007. He redshirted that season before earning a position on special teams. Since then, he has been a steady contributor to the special teams and was voted the Special Teams Captain by his teammates prior to the start of the 2011 season. He is a graduate of Orofino (Idaho) High School.
Elliott joined the team in 2010 and earned a position as a backup linebacker as well as on special teams. He came to Idaho after a standout career at Grossmont College. He is a graduate of Marin Catholic High School (Greenbrae, Calif.).
Matt has started 36 consecutive games on the Vandal offensive line. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2007 and was set to be a key player in the offensive line in 2008 before sustaining a season-ending injury in fall camp. Once he was on the field, he helped the Vandals to the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl victory. He is a graduate of Kentwood High School (Kent, Wash.).
After redshirting as a freshman in 2007, Mike has played in 47 games – a number that includes starting all except one game the past three years. He was a key figure in the Vandals’ 2009 Humanitarian Bowl victory. Mike was the recipient of the 2010 Wayne Anderson Coaches Award, which annually goes to the player who exemplifies what it means to be a Vanda, and was voted a team captain this fall. He has 100 total career tackles to go with 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. He is a graduate of Desert Pines High School (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Andre redshirted his freshman year at Idaho and earned a role at defensive end his sophomore season. He has been a steady contributor on the Vandal defensive front. He has 70 tackles headed into his final home game as a Vandal. He is a graduate of East Valley High School (Redlands, Calif.).
Matthew came to Idaho from Ellsworth College in 2009. He played on special teams that fall before earning a role in the secondary as a junior. He has 30 tackles this fall to go with two tackles for loss, an interception and five passes defensed. He is a graduate of Stoneman Douglas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).
Armauni transferred to Idaho from West Los Angeles College in the fall of 2010. He caught 21 passes last season and was among Idaho’s leaders this fall before breaking his arm against Hawai`i. Still, he had 23 catches for 311 yards for career totals of 44 receptions for 630 yards. He is a graduate of First Coast High School (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Homer transferred to Idaho from Grossmont College in the fall of 2010 and had an immediate impact on the linebacking corps. He had 74 tackles last season and has 40 so far this season. He also has 6.5 tackles for loss, three breakups and three hurries in 2011. He is a graduate of Helix High School (La Mesa, Calif.).
Princeton redshirted his first season at Idaho before embarking on a career that, last weekend, enabled him to pass Ray McDonald on the all-time career all-purpose rushing list. In his four years as a Vandal, Princeton has 3,140 all-purpose yards gained as a running back, receiver and kick returner to put him eighth on the all-time list with a chance to move to seventh in the Vandals’ final two games. He is a graduate of West High School (Bakersfield, Calif.).
John joined the Vandals in the fall of 2007 and became a key special teams player as a freshman and sophomore and was on the way to doing the same his junior season before a broken leg sidelined him for eight games. This season, he has played a vital role as a backup linebacker. He is a graduate of Arimo High School (Marsh Valley, Idaho).
Tyrone hadn’t played 11-man football when he signed on with the Vandals in 2007. After redshirting his first season, he developed into a key figure at offensive tackle and this season was voted by his teammates as an offensive team captain. In addition to football, Tyrone has volunteered on cleanup projects in the Gulf Coast regions devastated by hurricanes. He is a graduate of Curlew High School (Curlew, Wash).
Brian came to Idaho after a stellar season at Monterey Peninsula College. He was the backup to current Chicago Bear Nathan Enderle during his sophomore and junior seasons. He has shared quarterbacking duties with sophomore Taylor Davis this fall. He was voted an offensive team captain by his teammates. Brian is a graduate of Palma High School (Prunedale, Calif.).
Tre`Shawn redshirted his first season at Idaho and was sidelined his freshman year with a knee injury. He came back to become one of the Vandals’ most prolific tacklers and respected players. He is a defensive team captain (as voted on by his teammates) and, through 10 games, is Idaho’s leading tackler with 88 stops. He has a career total 231 tackles, which includes 22½ tackles for loss. He is a graduate of Upland (Calif.) High School.
Charles Smith Jr.
Charles was pressed into service as a true freshman in 2008 and has been a key component of the defensive line since. He has started all 10 games this season at defensive end and has 14 tackles and four quarterback hurries. He is a graduate of Desert Pines High School (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Korey transferred to Idaho from Arizona Western in 2009 and played a backup role in the linebacking corps. He sustained an injury in 2010 and redshirted before coming back this fall to be a key figure among the linebackers. He has 54 tackles and a team-best 8.5 tackles for loss. He also has intercepted a pass, scored on a two-point conversion run and gained 12 yards on one carry. He is a graduate of Shadow Valley High School (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Sam joined the Vandals in the fall of 2010 after graduating from Palomar Junior College where he was the Lineman of the Year. He immediately earned a starting role on the Vandal offensive line, where he has played at right guard. He is a graduate of Banning High School (Wilmington, Calif.).
Landon walked on at Idaho after graduating from LaGrande (Ore.) High School. He redshirted then spent two seasons as a scout team player before earning a role in the receiving corps. In a backup role, he has four receptions for 20 yards.
Derek initially was expected to play on the defensive line at Idaho and was the Vandals’ Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2007. He spent two seasons as a backup defensive lineman before moving to tight end as a junior – a position he continues to play during his senior season. He is a graduate of Meridian (Idaho) High School.