Welcome to 1st & goal. A new series where I will give my 4 things to watch, know or expect for the Vandals upcoming game and a score prediction.
1st Down – Road Woes
Social media off, newspapers shredded and flip phones closed. We did it, we upset the #11 team in the country last week in the Kibbie Dome. But that was last week. Idaho won at home where you have won 7 out of 8 since rejoining the FCS ranks. This week is different you are on the road where you are 0 out of 8 since rejoining FCS.
On paper, hell yeah Idaho should win. But the game isn’t played on paper, as Idaho should know from last week. We’ve only been close in 2 road games (Montana State & Wyoming). We have no reason to think we can win any games on the road. Until we actually do.
This is a potential trap game, which is weird for Idaho to say. Northern Colorado averages around 3000-4000 people at their games, the field is grass, noon kickoff and its our 2nd of 3 games at high altitude.
It will be spooky, lets just get out of Greeley with a win, please.
2nd Down- Mason Petrino
It needs to be said Mason Petrino had a great game last week. Arguably a top three performance for him. How much of that was Mason? How much was a lack of an Eastern Washington’s game plan? Was it the fear Cotton, Johnson, Carter & Haywood caused opening up opportunities? Does it matter?
I think Mason not having to even peak over his repaired shoulder added some swagger and confidence. He seemed to play loose and with something to prove.
I like the sassy Mason. He gave it to the refs, he gave it to the media, he gave it to early 2000’s technology. Now let’s see him sass of the Bears defense
I wont crown him king or eat crow on any of my previous statements after just one game. Good thing he has 8 OR MORE tries to prove me wrong!
3rd Down- Linebacker Reload
Idaho has been lucky to have had some studs at Linebacker on just about every team. The 2017 & 2018 teams though seemed to be the best. An NFL caliber guy like Kaden Ellis, athletic nerd Ed Hall & turncoat Tony Lashley.
This unit now, is as stacked as it has ever been. Possibly, the scariest part is their age. #8 Tre Walker, true sophomore. #1 Christian Ellis, true junior. #7 Charles “chuck” Akanno, redshirt junior. #24 Sully Shannon, true freshman.
Charles Akanno is coming off an FCS Stats Defensive player of the week nod. Would not be surprise if he or another linebacker mate win it again.
4th Down –Beware of Sleeping Offense
Northern Colorado may be playing possum. They have two of the best offensive weapons in all of the Big Sky, in QB Jacob Knipp and RB Milo Hall.
Jacob Knipp was in the same recruiting class as Matt Linehan. In his age, comes experience. The 6’4 Coloradoan burst onto the scene in 2015 after taking over 4 weeks into his redshirt freshman season. He broke a ton of freshman records and stood out in a deep QB conference. He has been slow to start this year, even getting taken out late against Washington State. Its possible maybe he has peaked, but even so, he seems primed for a vintage game. Hopefully not this week against Idaho.
Milo Hall is a workhorse. He transferred to the Bears from Wyoming. He was not just a role player or scout team guy either. He started 4 games for the pokes his redshirt sophomore year. He has soft hands and contributes in the passing attack. The instant you think that he is a speed back at 5’8, he will drop a shoulder and truck you! Idaho comparison would be Aaron Duckworth.
Luckily we have those linebackers….
Chris: Northern Colorado 24 Idaho 20
TJ: Idaho 29 Northern Colorado 19
Brian: Idaho 31 Northern Colorado 13
Alex Boatman: Idaho 24 Northern Colorado 13