Big Damm Preview: Game 5 – Portland State vs. Idaho

IT’S HOMECOMING WEEKEND! The Vandals look to pick up their second win of the season when the Portland State Vikings come to the Kibbie Dome.

Last Game:
The Vandals lost to then-#8 UC Davis 27-20, after blowing a 20-13 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Portland State went on the road and beat Southern Utah 20-13.

Last Meeting:
October 12th, 2019 – The Vikings shut out the Vandals 24-0 in Oregon as Mason Petrino and Colton Richardson both threw a pair of interceptions.


Quarterbacks:
In typical Idaho fashion, CJ Jordan was named the starting quarterback against UC Davis, then promptly got hurt on the first drive without ever attempting a pass. Jordan’s shoulder injury is expected to keep him out for a few weeks. Let us know on Twitter if you can correctly guess the last year that a Vandal QB was named the starter and played through the entire conference schedule without injury or substitution.

Zach Borisch continued to do Zach Borisch things, running 10 times for 82 yards and 2 TDs (#LetBorischThrow), highlighted by the 60 yard run to open the scoring on the first drive of the game. Mike Beaudry stepped in off the bench after the Jordan injury and served as the QB for most snaps. Beaudry went 22 for 35 with 255 yards and one INT. Beaudry passed the eye test, completing over 62 percent of his passes in what was one of his better games as a Vandal. Expect to see Beaudry running the offense while Borisch comes in as a change of pace. [editor’s note: Perhaps head coach Paul Petrino noticed how UC Davis’s running quarterback Trent Tompkins shredded the Vandal defense when they had to respect the possibility of the throw. Alas, this is likely just the wistful yearning of a tired editor.]

Portland State’s quarterback situation is more settled than Idaho’s, with Davis Alexander being one of the longest tenured QBs in the Big Sky. On the year, Alexander is completing 58% of his passes (109 for 188) for 1405 yards, 8 TDs, and 6 INTs. His 1405 passing yards is second in the Big Sky Conference. Alexander is also the second leading rusher for the Vikings, with 111 yards and 2 TDs on the ground.

Idaho’s Key Players/Statistics:
Welcome to the Terez Traynor show? Hayden Hatten is typically Beaudry’s favorite receiver, but had just three receptions for fifteen yards in his return after missing the Oregon State game. Traynor had over half of the passing game’s output, with 10 receptions for 131 yards. On the season, Traynor now leads the Vandals with 20 catches and 230 yards, followed closely by Hatten’s 15 catches for 215 yards (in one fewer game.) Roshaun Johnson did not get a carry against the Aggies, but Elisha Cummings proved more than capable in his absence, with 15 carries for 125 yards and an incredible 8.3 yards per carry. Aundre Carter has solidified himself as the short-yardage back, with seven carries for just 12 yards last week, but that did come with a goal-line touchdown.

The Vandal defense put on a show against Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. last week, holding the All-Big Sky Conference caliber running back to just 61 yards on 19 carries. Unfortunately, UC Davis shifted their offense in the fourth quarter and running QB Trent Tompkins put up 85 yards on 13 carries. Fa’Avae Fa’Avae led the defense last week with ten total tackles, while Noah Elliss and Charles Akanno each registered a sack. Tommy McCormick registered two tackles for loss and an interception. Sean and Tommy, the brothers McCormick, are now responsible for two of the three Vandal takeaways this season.

Caleb Lightbourn has continued to be a worthy successor to Cade Coffey, averaging 46 yards per punt against the Aggies, with a long of 67. Unfortunately, the rest of the special teams unit continues to struggle, as yet another kick was blocked last week. Does Alex “The BOAT” Boatman need to brush up his resume and apply to join the coaching staff as a special teams assistant?

Portland State’s Key Players/Statistics:
The Viking offense runs through their dual threat QB with dual first names, but expect to see a heavy dose of running back Malik Walker, who has 73 rushes for 297 yards and four TDs on the season. Walker is also the fourth leading receiver on the team, with 12 receptions for 39 yards. Receivers Beau Kelly, Darien Chase, and Nate Bennett serve as Alexander’s primary targets, with 81 receptions for 1143 yards and seven TDs between them. Kelly paces the group with 33 catches, 486 yards, and four TDs, a top three receiver in the Big Sky in most statistical categories.

Safety Anthony Adams leads the Portland State defense with two INTs and a fumble recovery, while also registering 21 tackles, good for third on the team. Adams was an All-American in virtually every publication in 2019, received countless 2021 preseason accolades, and is on the watchlist for the Buck Buchanan award alongside Vandal linebacker Tre Walker. Defensive tackle VJ Malo leads the Vikings with five and a half sacks (second in the Big Sky Conference) and eight tackles for loss. Linebacker Parker McKenna leads PSU with 39 total tackles.

Punter Seth Vernon’s 48.2 yard average leads the Big Sky Conference, while his nine punts of 50+ yards is tied for first in the conference.

Key to the Game:
Can the Vandal secondary limit Beau Kelly and the rest of the PSU receivers? The front seven should be able to contain the legs of Alexander and Walker, but can the secondary cover long enough to end drives early and often?

Game Predictions:
Producer Dallas: This is it folks. This is the game the entire season hinges on. After hanging close with top-10 UC Davis, a confident win here could be the momentum needed for Idaho to make a stand in the Big Sky. Or, a loss here could make 3-4 wins the ceiling of this season. Initially, I was going to take PSU in a close one, but the rest of the Tubs team talked me into the Vandals. Portland State has never won in Moscow, and that continues as Idaho gets the 21-20 win.
Boatman: Idaho 31-17
Brian: Idaho 24-17
Chris: Idaho 21-20 [editor’s note: Chris’s prediction came before Producer Dammer’s, who should have made his own unique prediction.]

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