Tonight, Idaho in Indiana, 5 p.m. TV: BTN. Radio: 92.5 FM, 1080 AM
The Idaho Vandals didn’t appear to be too beatable from last week’s season-opening loss in Washington State.
Otherwise, perhaps, all of the fans slapped them in the back after the Vandals played at the FBS Power 5 Conference closing the Cougars in a 24-17 defeat.
Earlier this week, first-year Idaho coach Jason Eck said he was pleased with how his players competed and fought hard and gave the Vandals a chance to win at the end of the game.
“However, we didn’t win the match,” Eke said. “We have to get better; we have to get better. This will be a much harder challenge against Indiana… It will be a tougher environment, a bigger crowd, a harder ride. Last week was a great game at home – you slept in your bed. Now we have a three hour ride in all over the country.”
Tonight, Idaho ventures into the Big Ten to face Indiana (1-0). The Hoosiers scored a touchdown 23 seconds left to defeat Illinois 23-20 last Friday in a collegiate game. Indiana outscored 448-362, notching a mere 32 yards sprinting.
“Now I think we’ll get Indiana’s attention. Their coaches will be able to use us to play hard against Washington State as motivation. My message to the team is that we have to improve a lot this week. We have to play a lot better than we did, and I think we can play better.”
However, you take your moral victories wherever you can get them. And in recent years, the Vandals need all the gains they can get.
Idaho hasn’t played Power 5 teams close in recent years.
“I think you build on the positives,” Eck said. “We knew we had to win the spinning battle to win the game, and we did, 3-2. (Washington State) coach (Jake) Dickert praised how hard we played in defense.
“The resilience we showed, the mental toughness to respond when things didn’t go our way. That’s something bad teams don’t do.”
On the bright side, too, most errors made by the Vandals in the opening can be fixed. They are not outdone at all, which is often the case in these games.
“Like I told the kids, we had a lot of accountability issues in the game where we didn’t implement it,” Eck said. “Two of their big offensive plays were busts – we had two guys covering one receiver and one not covering the other receiver and it was wide open. It wasn’t like it was a huge talent issue.
“When attacking, I was disappointed with the false starts. The first and the goal at 8, we have a false start. We have the first goal and the goal at 13 and we end up with a field kick. We had another one in 4th and 4th, and there are a lot of plays to play. It’s 4th and 4. So it’s 4th and 9th and we were stopped.
“They weren’t talent issues; these were execution stuff.” “It’s easier to fix these things than to make your team bigger, stronger, and faster in a week.”
However, he did notice more buying after the close call at Pullman.
“We had a whole lot of the team that really thought we were going to be a lot better, and they thought we were going in a different direction than Idaho had gone in the past,” Ike said. “But I don’t know if everyone did. But we have some evidence that everyone is on board now. In the past two days (Monday and Tuesday), no one has been late with the weights. We haven’t had many days when no one has been late with the weights. “.
While money games against FBS are essential to schools like Idaho, which need all their paychecks they can get, Eck said he’d prefer playing a game like this at a school on the West Coast.
“It’s not a game that I like on our schedule,” Eck said. “I prefer playing with a team in an area where we hire. Although there are great players in Indiana, and if you want to send us a movie, we’ll look at it, but that’s not a major recruiting area for us.”
Idaho played in Indiana last year, losing 56-14. But Hoosiers quarterback (Michael Benicks Jr.) now plays in Washington, and both are new coordinators — although Ike noted coach Tom Allen calls defensive plays.
“We have to play better (this week),” Eke said. “We need to run the ball better, take some pressure off the passing game. We need to do a better job at the start down so we don’t have as many long, hard deals.”