Thanksgiving week always has a unique feel on a college
campus. There aren’t any classes; most of the students have headed home for the
break. That atmosphere creates even more of a family feel among a football team
preparing for its final game of the season.
Interim head coach Jason Gesser and his staff have spent the
week trying to find the perfect practice mix for the Idaho Vandals are they
prepare to head to Logan, Utah, and their season finale against Utah State.
“We’re trying to find that fine balance,” said Gesser, who
is appearing as head coach for the fourth time, “keeping it fun but keeping it
Gesser said he sensed a different attitude in the 2012 Vandals
as compared to the 2011 team, which scored just a field goal in its season
finale at Nevada a year ago.
“They were locked and loaded in practice today,” said
Gesser, who made it a point to mention the 2011 Nevada game in meetings this
week. “Nobody wants that to happen again. We’re going to prepare and keep going
To avert a repeat, the Vandals have to slow one of the
hottest teams going. The Aggies are 9-2 and fresh off a victory at then-No. 20
Louisiana Tech. It’s no secret, Gesser says, that Utah State – winner of five
straight, is on a roll. He also said, it won’t be up to just Idaho’s defense to
put the brakes on the Aggies.
“We’ve got to be able to manage the game,” Gesser said. “We
have to make our plays count. We have to make our plays successful. We have to
be able to move those chains and help our defense out.”
This is the final game in an Idaho uniform for 19 players.
Gesser said that, too, has been on the minds of the Vandals.
“It’s the last time this entire team will be together,” he
said. “This might be the last time we coach these guys.
“It’s a whole different feel.”
Tipoff at Romney Stadium is at noon PT/1 p.m. MT. The game
is live on ESPNU.
The Vandals are 1-10 overall and 1-4 in the WAC after a hard-fought loss to Texas-San Antonio last Saturday. The Aggies took sole control of the WAC race after winning in overtime at Louisiana Tech last weekend. USU has won 10 successive games.
Jason Gesser will be heading into his fourth 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.
Gary Andersen is in his fourth season at Utah State and evened his head coaching record at 24-24 when the Aggies defeated Louisiana Tech last Saturday. He is a 1986 graudate of the University of Utah.
Utah State leads the series, which is one of the oldest in Idaho football history, 19-17-2. The Aggies won in double overtime at Moscow in 2011 with Idaho winning, 28-6, at Logan in 2010.
The game is being broadcast on ESPN Regional with Trey Bender and Jay Taylor calling the action.
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.). An additional captain will be selected each week by the coaching staff. Mike Marboe was the selected captain against San Jose State, Gary Walker earned the honors at BYU and Robert Siavvi was recognized vs. UT-San Antonio.
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.