I think it’s safe to say that Idaho Vandal fans had bigger expectations than to be 3-5 in their inaugural season back at the FCS level. That is, those fans that didn’t revolt and claim to abandon the program after the announcement.
Idaho is 3-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. Upon further review it is understandable why they are 0-5 on the road. Look at who they’ve played – the three best teams in the Big Sky conference along with probably the 5th best team in Montana State.
Beat Western New Mexico (0-8 D2) 56-10
Beat Portland State (4-4) 20-7
Beat Southern Utah (1-7) 31-12
Lost to Fresno State (7-1) 79-13
Lost to UC Davis (7-1) 44-21
Lost to Montana State (4-4) 24-23
Lost to Idaho State (5-3) 62-28
Lost to Eastern Washington (6-2) 38-14
Idaho is a different animal at home inside the antiquated Kibbie Dome. Its not quite as dated and sobering as Holt Arena (Idaho State) but it is unique and a factor.
The Vandal offense is led by QB Mason Petrino. On the year Petrino is 133-207 for 1,256 yards and 10 TD’s. He has also thrown 5 INT’s. At 6’0″-195, Petrino is not nearly as big as his backups but can move around pretty well when pressured. The coaches kid has a decent arm but knows where he wants to go with it in their shotgun/spread system.
We have seen via social media that back QB Colton Richardson could be out this week. That leaves Nikhil Nayar as the backup. The 6’4″-220 freshman has not thrown a pass yet this season but we could see him getting time vs. UND. He has taken reps with the #1 unit this week.
This offense will resemble many of the other spread looks that UND has gotten in recent weeks. We would expect them to throw swing passes and bubble screens much like Weber State did due to the trouble it gave the Hawks defense.
Idaho has a pretty solid stable of backs and receivers at their disposal. One guy who stuck out to us on film was WR #7 Cutrell Haywood. Very quick an strong kid as 6’0″-203. Haywood has 38 catches for 380 yards and 5 TD’s. #2 David Ungerer is their leading receiver with 50 catches for 503 yards and 2 TD’s. Kind of a slot guy who moves the chains.
The Vandals defense is a base 4-3 that doesn’t vary much from that look. Longtime DC Mike Breske, who has been around the Big Sky for a long time is the man running the show for the Vandals defense.
The UND offensive line is going to need to identify which linebacker is blitzing based on pre-snap alignment. They will typically bring one linebacker to give them a five man pressure. The four down lineman appear to be two-gap players and come straight ahead, typically. Not a twisting/stunting team like UND is.
The Vandal defense is giving up 35 pts/game and 222 rushing yards/game. This is obviously a good sign for the run-first Hawks offense. After last week we feel we will see a rejuvenated offensive line on Saturday. They probably needed to see a stout defensive line after playing against the poor units from Sac State and Northern Colorado.
The weakness, by far, of the Idaho defense is the secondary. They only have one of the two interceptions the Vandals have on the season and have made very few plays on the ball.
We have stated once this season that Nate Ketteringham will go off and win the game for UND. Make it two times. Much like the Montana game (Kett threw for 250 and 4 TD), we think this is a golden opportunity for Ketteringham to throw for 250+ and 3+ TD’s. The offensive line should provide him with ample time to find Noah Wanzek and Garrett Maag downfield.