There is one thing of which Idaho coach Robb Akey is
certain: The Louisiana State Tigers are one of the best college football teams
in the country and no one expects his Vandals to damage that reputation.
“They call it Death Valley for a couple reasons,” said Akey
in reference to the nickname of LSU’s Tiger Stadium. “I think a lot of people
have lost the game before they go in there.”
In all aspects of the game, the Vandals will face their most
difficult test of the season. The beauty of it, though, Akey says, is it’s a
win-win for Idaho.
“They’re a good football team,” Akey said. “There’s no
question about it. They’re big and athletic up front. They’re strong and fast
at the skill positions. They’re a very talented football team that has great
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere – one of the great
college football atmospheres in the country. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going
to pin our ears back and go after it.”
Saturday’s game (5 p.m. PT/7 p.m. CT) will be the second
career start for junior quarterback Dominique Blackman, who threw for 352 yards
on 30-of-37 passing in his Division I debut. He has a couple new receivers –
Najee Lovett and Jahrie Level, who had sparkling outings in the Vandals’ first
two games with Lovett going for 110 yards on eight catches vs. Eastern
Washington and Level covering 119 yards on 10 catches at Bowling Green.
Defensively, the Vandals continue to improve and are ranking
in the top half of the nation in most defensive categories. In two games,
safety is the team’s tackle leader with 17 with linebackers Conrad Scheidt (16)
and Su`a Tuala (14) right behind. Linebacker Homer Mauga and cornerback Solomon
Dixon each have one interception.
The Vandals are 0-2 after a home loss to Eastern Washington followed by a loss on the road at Bowling Green State. LSU is 2-0 after opening with home victories over North Texas and Washington.
Robb Akey is in his sixth season as head coach at Idaho. After rebuilding in his first two seasons, his 2009 team won the Humanitarian Bowl and his 2010 team was on the verge of repeating as a bowl team. He is a graduate of Weber State University and coached for his alma mater (1988-94) as well as Northern Arizona University (1995-98) and Washington State University (1999-2006) before taking over at Idaho in his first head coaching job.
Les Miles is in his eighth season as head coach at LSU and is 77-18 with the Tigers. He is 105-39 in 11 seasons as a head coach. His career began at Michigan (his alma mater) where he was a graduate assistant for two seasons before moving on to Colorado (offensive line, 1982-86), back to Michigan (offensive line, 1987-1994), Oklahoma State (offensive coordinator, 1995-97), Dallas Cowboys (tight ends, 1998-2000) and then back to Oklahoma State as head coach from 2001-04. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he was an offensive lineman.
The Vandals traveled to Baton Rouge to play the Tigers in 1998. LSU won 53-20.
The game is one LSU’s TigerVision, a pay-per-view service available only in Louisiana and Idaho as per Southeast Conference regulations. It also is available on ESPN’s GamePlan.
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. A complete list of stations is on page 3.
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.).
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.