Big Damm Preview: Game 6 – Idaho vs. #2 Eastern Washington

It’s the rubber match! For the third time in 2021, the Idaho Vandals take on the Eastern Washington Eagles.

Last Game:
On Homecoming weekend, Idaho beat Portland State 42-35, narrowly hanging on after taking a 35-7 lead near the end of the second quarter.

Undefeated Eastern Washington led from start to finish in a 63-17 drubbing of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Last Matchup(s):
February 27th, 2021 – Idaho came back from a 14-0 deficit to win 28-21 in the spring season opener. Eagle kicker Seth Harrison famously “missed” a field goal thanks to the dangerous combination of the Kibbie Dome scoreboard and an official struggling with mask protocols.

April 10th, 2021 – Eastern Washington got revenge on the red, winning 38-31 on a windy day where Zach Borisch got his first start at quarterback and rushed for over 200 yards.

Quarterbacks:
Another week, another question mark at quarterback for Idaho! Will we see Zach Borisch get another start against EWU, or will Mike Beaudry be healthy enough to play? If Beaudry is out, who will be Borisch’s backup?

Against Portland State, Idaho threw the ball only 16 times, led by Mike Beaudry’s 10 for 15 with 162 yards and a TD. Beaudry also chipped in 26 net yards on the ground. The Vandals finally #LetBorischThrow, who threw one pass, a 46 yard TD to Dalton Cash. Borisch rushed 16 times for 83 yards and a TD. On the final Vandal possession, Beaudry converted a 4th down pass to essentially seal the game for Idaho, but was injured and replaced by Borisch. Rather than kneel the ball and claim victory, Idaho chose to attempt to score a touchdown. Borisch fumbled and Portland State ended up with a failed Hail Mary attempt to tie the game in the closing seconds. Paul Petrino said after the game that they hadn’t practiced the victory formation with Borisch, so they opted to run the ball. If the Vandals are in a victory formation situation again this week, we’ll see if they have decided to practice the kneel.

Eric Barriere is having yet another Walter Payton Award caliber season, currently completing over 68% of his passes (168 for 245) for 2467 yards, 21 TDs, and 5 INTs. Barriere leads the Big Sky Conference in every passing category, and leads the country in completion percentage, yards, and TDs. His average of 411.2 yards per game leads the Big Sky by more than 100 yards.

Idaho’s Key Players/Statistics:
Terez Traynor once again led the receiving core, with five receptions for 114 yards and a TD; but it was the Vandal running game that stole the show last week, averaging 6.1 yards per carry on their way to 236 net yards. Borisch’s output led the team, while Aundre Carter continued his resurgence with 68 yards and two TDs off of just four carries. Roshaun Johnson added nine carries for 36 yards and a TD. Borisch, Carter, Johnson, and Elisha Cummings all have triple digit rushing output on the season and each average over five yards a carry.

Tre Walker had a typical Tre Walker game, leading the team with 18 total tackles and a forced fumble. Walker is currently fourth in the Big Sky Conference in tackles per game. With Fa’Avae Fa’Avae out last week, Hogan Hatten took advantage of the added playing time, with ten tackles and a tackle for loss. Marcus Harris forced a fumble, and Charles Akanno added a sack for the second week in a row.

Eastern Washington’s Key Players/Statistics:
While Eric Barriere might be the focal point of the Eagle offense, running back Dennis Merritt’s 92.7 rushing yards per game is good for third in the Big Sky Conference. Merritt has an incredible 11 rushing TDs in just six games, and averages 5.3 yards per carry. Merritt’s 13 total TDs is first in the entire FCS. EWU boasts a deep receiving core led by perennial All-Big Sky talent Talolo Limu-Jones, who leads the Big Sky Conference with 115.2 yards per game. Limu-Jones was injured in Eastern Washington’s win against Montana and missed last week’s game against Northern Colorado, but is listed as a starter on the two-deep against Idaho. With or without Limu-Jones, the Eagles still trot out three receivers that average over 50 yards per game in Andrew Boston, Freddie Roberson, and Efton Chism III. Boston and Roberson start opposite Limu-Jones, with Chism III serving as TLJ’s backup. Seventh-year senior (and perennial All-Big Sky lineman) Tristen Taylor protects Barriere’s blind side.

2021 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference defensive end Mitchell Johnson is the “name” on the EWU defense, but a pair of players with Vandal connections power the group. Linebacker (and former Vandal from 2016-2018) Ty Graham leads EWU’s defense with 59 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and an INT. Safety Calin Criner, son of former Vandal defensive coordinator Mark Criner, heads the secondary with 35 tackles, while also adding an INT and a forced fumble. Cornerback Tre Weed was named second team All-Big Sky Conference in the spring season.

Coeur d’Alene native Seth Harrison is still kicking for the Eagles, but after going a perfect 12-for-12 in 2019, he has gone just 12-for-18 since the infamous “miss” in the Kibbie Dome.

Key to the Game:
Last week was a tale of two halves for Idaho, with an outstanding first half overshadowed by a near-collapse in the second half. The Vandals need to look much more like the first half team that ran the ball at will, scored a ton, and constantly pressured Davis Alexander.

Game Predictions:
Producer Dallas: In 2018, Idaho went down 31-0 at halftime in Cheney on the way to a 38-14 loss. In 2021’s spring season, Idaho unveiled the read option with Zach Borisch and lost 38-31 after a fourth quarter comeback by the Eagles. Idaho won’t catch EWU off guard with a brand new offense this time. The Eagles are a more physical team this year than the last few seasons, and their receivers are a nightmare for a weaker Idaho secondary. EWU grabs a big lead early and does not let off the gas, winning 56-21. [editor’s note: This prediction was made with the expectation that Beaudry plays, Idaho uses their two QB system, and Beaudry has to try to throw the Vandals back into the game. If Beaudry is out, Idaho still loses, but keeps it considerably closer by virtue of Borisch primarily running the read option and chewing more clock.]
Boatman: EWU 38-28
Brian: EWU 42-28
Chris: EWU 30-26

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.]

Big Sky Power Rankings Week 6

Reminder this is a “Power Ranking.” It means different things to different people. Some view it as the best team, some view it as hottest team at the moment. At the end of the year, the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings. We had 12 voters this week.

This week [Last Week] | Team | First Place Votes – Points

1. [3] Eastern Washington (12) – 169

Last Week: W Vs #6 Montana 34-28

This Week: @ Northern Colorado

My Ranking: 1

WOW, WOW, WOW! What a show! The wait was worth it. If this truly is a farewell tour, the main event was something to hold onto forever. This will make the best hits album for years to come. The show was so good, maybe this isn’t farewell after all. They have a couple big shows left to maybe show these old souls still have it. That they are more than just their lead guitarist.

2. [1] Montana – 145

Last Week: L @ 28-34 #4 Eastern Washington

This Week: Vs Dixie State

My Ranking: 3

Well shoot. I took Montana in this one and was pretty confident in the pick. Though the one thing I said was Cam Humphrey can’t win this game, and he couldnt. I know Kris Brown was ultimately how it ended, but Humphrey just isn’t a guy to go out and win you a game. Humphrey completed 53% of his passes for 150 yards and a 1 to 1 TD to INT ratio.

Cam didnt lose them the game, he certainly didnt win it either.

That VAUNTED griz defense I thought would give QB Eric Barriere the same types of “fits” Idaho has the past two seasons. (“fits” as in not 400 yards and 4 TDs)

Vs Idaho

2019- Passing: 28/46 365 Yards 2 TDs 1 INT Rushing: 57 Yards 2 TDs 1 Fumble

2020A- Passing: 32/57 339 Yards 2 TDs 1 INT Rushing: 14 Yards 0 TDs

2020B- Passing: 18/38 309 Yards 2 TDs 0 INT Rushing: 54 yards 0 TDs

Vs Montana

2021 – Passing: 26/46 422 Yards 2 TDS 2 INTS Rushing: 41 yards 0 TDs

I guess they kinda did?… But it just wasnt enough.

3. [2] UC Davis – 142

Last Week: W vs Idaho 27-20

This Week: @ Idaho State

My Ranking: 2

UC Davis fans I imagine are okay not being in the top spot after their preformace compared to the ESPN2 showdown. However, #3? My assumption of the 11 other voters is, they rewarded Eastern for the win, didnt want to punish Montana, and the Aggies just played it too close to a team barely in the top 10 of the power rankings.

I made the argument last week in favor of UC Davis having a tougher schedule. Well, what a difference a week can make?! 2 of our top 3 teams are undefeated. Montana (the one with the loss) leads the way in average sagarin ranked opponents, at 130 on average, Easterns’ average opponents ranks 140.75, then UC Davis is a only 193 (out of 258).

Good news for them they only have 1.5 hurdles left to go undefeated.

4. [4] Montana State – 137

Last Week: W vs Northern Colorado 40-7

This Week: Vs Cal Poly

My Ranking 5

You know it is bad when Griz fans were pulling for Montana State. Their opponent last week, Northern Colorado, apparrently ruffled some feathers. People wanted to seem the out of no-where cockiness of the bears cooled down a bit.

The spread was -19.5 Montana State at home. I was one of the people that thought Northern Colorados’ rennassiance was further along and took the spread… Montana State proved they are not.

The Bobcats are sort of sailing under the radar. I think they like it this way. But Bobcat fans beware of flying objects when attending games.

R&R is brought to you by Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Another instant reaction episode, this time Shane Driscoll pinch hits for Thorny and helps Foley give the good, the bad and the ugly from the huge win over Weber State. Thanks to Shane for coming on, and Go Cats! Intro music courtesy of Ugly Duckling
  1. INSTANT REACTION: Weber State
  2. #19 Weber State Preview with Weber State Weekly
  3. Cal Poly Recap
  4. INSTANT REACTION: Cal Poly
  5. Northern Colorado Recap, Cal Poly Preview

5. [5] Weber State – 119

Last Week: W @ Cal Poly 38-7

This Week: Bye

My Ranking: 4

Look for Weber, a backup QB puting up 38 points is a win.

Just werid vibes coming out of Ogden. They are almost in a win or bust situation. They may be able to afford one more loss to a top Big Sky program. But they are running out of statement wins as well. The next 3 weeks are going to be monumental for the Wildcats.

Coming off of the bye, they get Montana State at home which feels like the must win game. Because they follow that up on the road in Cheney. They really need to go 2-0 through that stretch to gurantee playoffs. otherwise it gets iffy and their future may be in others hands. Which is always stressful.

Right now it is a 5 team race for conference title and playoff spots. In 3 weeks it could be narrowed down to 4 teams and some “SadCats” – Hot Take Nate

FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Montana State vs. Weber State w/ R&R Cat Cast's Thorny & Foley Weber State Weekly

The end of the bye has finally come and it's time for the Wildcats to face another top ten opponent at Stewart Stadium. This time, it's the Montana State Bobcats who have been taking care of business this year and come in ranked #9.We chat with fellow Big Sky Podcast Network members Thorny and Foley from the R&R Cat Cast to learn more about what the Bobcats bring to Ogden and where the Wildcats will have to play tough to grind out a dub.For more Bobcats commentary or to hear WSW's take on their show, check out R&R Cat Cast on Twitter or their website.Special thanks to our sponsor, WildcatRack.com. Visit their website to check out all their latest Wildcat gear and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or join the Wildcat Fans FB group.
  1. FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Montana State vs. Weber State w/ R&R Cat Cast's Thorny & Foley
  2. Back from the Bye: Junior DE George Tarlas
  3. #MakeOgdenPurple w/ Weber State Alumni Association Board Member Amir Jackson
  4. #AceState: Sophomore Outside Hitter Dani Nay
  5. FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Weber State @ Cal Poly, 10.02.21

6. [6] Sacramento State – 96

Last Week: Bye Week

This Week: Vs Southern Utah

My Ranking: 10

I seriously dont get it?! We punish teams like Davis for beating Idaho by 7. We punish teams like Weber for losing to Top 10 programs. Yet, 2-2 Sac State with a 2 point win vs 206th ranked Sagarin team and an 8 point win vs 222nd sagarin ranked team, just keep being named the best team outside of the elite teams? PEOPLE, they barely beat the team we ranked last this week! So if Sac State is SOOO good why did we punish Idaho State (fell 3 spots). They fell by a 4th quarter field goal. This wasnt ISU making it look close in garbage time. This was Sac State having to come from behind vs (apparently) the worst team in the Big Sky.

#ComeOnMan

7. [7] Portland State – 92

Last Week:W @ Southern Utah 20-13

This Week: @ Idaho

My Ranking: 6

The love everyone seems to give Sac State, should be given here. Portland State is the team it appears the rest of the Big Sky Podcast Network thinks Sac State is.

QB Davis Alexander is #2 in yards, #4 in TDs.

RB Malik Walker is #7 in yards (Sac State RB not even on list), #2 in TDs

WR Beau Kelly #4 in yards , #2 in catches, #1 in TDs

WR Nate Bennet #6 in yards, #4 in catches, T-#2 in TDs

Yup, I did just take half of Portland States space to continue the tar and feathering of Sac State. Sorry, Colter, they arent quite top 5, but looking to be top 6…ish

8. [t-11] Northern Arizona – 76

Last Week: W vs Idaho State 48-17

This Week: Bye

My Ranking: 8

This team has fluctuated lots this season. Been as high as #6 and as low as #12. Which seems to be fitting honestly as no one seems to have a grip on who they are.

I was celebrity guest host on BSPNS’s NAU Sports Show last week and predicited an Idaho State W, but left door open for NAU win. Classic hedge.

Well NAU players and fans can mail me my crow meal. They were Tiger Kings this weekend.

9. [9] Idaho – 67

Last Week: L @ #7 UC Davis 20-27

This Week: Vs Portland State

My Ranking: 9

They move none and match my ranking. Out of 13 teams the only teams I agree with positioning are #1 Eastern, #8 NAU and #9 Idaho.

I know majority of the eyeballs reading this are Vandals, and probably skipped right on down to this point, and Im sorry.

I know we just hung with the #7 team in the country with legit shot to win. But, we didn’t… Look talent wise we proved we might be top 3 in the conference. Hell, just look at recent draft picks and NFL guys since we rejoined the sky in 2018. In 3 seasons we have 3 guys in NFL and the only Big Sky school with a guy who most likely will be leaving early to be drafted (Tre Walker). The worst part in 2018 all 4 of them were on the team together! in 2019 3 of them were on the team together! How can we not win games with this level of talent?oh wait, Coaching.

I’m starting to think you could go down position matchups every week and pick Idaho in the majority. The one I am starting to think we can no longer check is head coach. I have been a defender of Paul for 8.25 seasons… I can’t anymore. No more excuses. we aren’t Independent, we arent transtioning to Sun Belt, we are recruting to a program kicked out of the Sun Belt, we aren’t transitioning to FCS with less scholarships, we arent getting use to another new conference in the Big Sky, we aren’t in a shortened spring season, we dont have QB issues anymore, we have no more excuses.

We SHOULD have won on saturday, the players did…

10. [8] Northern Colorado – 50

Last Week: L @ Montana State 7-40

This Week: Vs #4 Eastern Washington

My Ranking: 8

Well they lost me money this weekend (*Allegedly). Maybe the bears aren’t as far along as some (maybe just me and Bears fans) thought.

Montana State showed the difference between top flight Big Sky team and the pile up between 11ish and 6.

After that ass kicking, I doubt they are enthused with Eastern coming to town. Going to be a sad homecoming. But seriously, lets dive into this. Who in their right mind schedules Eastern for Homecoming? Like, Why? Do you understand you are suppose to win homecoming? is this concept foreign to you? Are you secretly a NAU grad? A Raiders Fan? Christian McCaffery stole your girl? I dont get it? It really makes me want to break a clipboard and throw it. As a “Souvenir” of course.

11. [t-11] Southern Utah – 42

Last Week: L vs Portland State 13-20

This Week: @ Sacramento State

My Ranking: 12

Please refer to the WAC Podcast Networks coverage of this team.

12. [13] Cal Poly – 25

Last Week: L vs #19 Weber State 7-38

This Week: @ #10 Montana State

My Ranking: 13

I mean, not sure how they moved up. They are my 13, though maybe I should just permenently make SUU my 13, becasue screw SUU. (Exept their Social Media team, they are fire. Please dont roast me)

13. [10] Idaho State – 23

Last Week: L @ Northern Arizona 17-48

This Week: Vs UC Davis

My Ranking:11

Well Bengals, You made me look like a fool. Fool me once shame on me, Fool me can’t get fooled again.

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer 

😉

Finally At Home

It’s finally happening, The Idaho Vandals are opening the ICCU Arena. I remember first hearing about the arena in 2015 when I was in school. The university spoke of a multi-purpose venue for Vandal events. This facility also meant something new for Vandal Basketball: a home.

Pictures don’t do the arena justice. You have to come and see it for yourself. It’s amazing.

I have always been a fan of the Idaho Women’s Basketball Team and I am proud of where Jon Newlee has taken this program. For as long as I have been watching Idaho Basketball, they would play games in Memorial Gym for the first part of the season, move to Cowan Spectrum to play games for a couple of months there and then go back to Mem Gym because of Jazz Fest. As a fan and a member of the band, it never felt like either Mem Gym or Cowan Spectrum were places I would call home.

The ICCU Arena will be more than just a home. It means that Jon Newlee, his assistant coaches Christa Sanford, Drew Muscatell, and Taylor Pierce will finally have a top notch facility to show off to recruits. It has been amazing to see Coach Newlee and his staff building teams that are competing for Big Sky titles year in and year out in Memorial Gym and Cowan Spectrum, I can’t wait to see the caliber of players they can bring in with the facility. It will also mean that former players will have a place to come back to Moscow and be proud of.

It will be a place to host the conference titles and tournament titles that they have won. A place to honor the greats and to cheer our current Vandals to victory in the Moscow winters and springs.

The future is bright for Idaho Women’s Basketball. Without even playing in the new venue, the arena has already paid dividends in recent recruiting classes. This arena means the team will have a dedicated place to come play and workout. I’m excited to see the benefits the ICCU Arena will bring to the team.

While I am excited to see the team in the new arena. I will always have fantastic memories from Mem Gym and Cowan Spectrum.

But don’t just hear it from me, there are plenty of Vandals eager see their team in the ICCU Arena.

Mikayla Ferenz

What does the arena mean to you?

I am so excited the arena is finally done! I remember hearing about the idea on my recruiting visit and I know so many people contributed to making the idea become reality. The arena honors every player, coach, and supporter who has devoted themselves to the success of the Women’s Basketball program.  I am so proud to have been a part of a University and athletic department that values student-athletes’ success and development.  Although I will not have the opportunity to play in the new arena, I am so happy for both programs and I cannot wait to watch a game in it as a fan!

What does it mean to the coaches?

The coaches are so deserving of this new arena.  They dedicate so much to developing us as players and people and have built the program to be extremely competitive.  They have cultivated a culture of family and success.  A big part of the enjoyable experience I had at Idaho is owed to them.  I am so happy the coaches have a new place to call home and I hope it makes their lives easier like they do for us. 

What does it mean for the future of Vandal Women’s Basketball?

The new arena will be tremendous for the future of the program.  Players will now have a devoted space to workout, shoot, and recover whenever they need to.  The arena will also be a big draw to recruits.  Who wouldn’t want to play there?! Everything about it will benefit the program now and in the future.  

Favorite Game?

My favorite game I ever played at Idaho was my senior year versus Denver in the WNIT.  Memorial gym was packed to the rafters and the fans were deafening.  I have never played in a better atmosphere or had more fun in a game than that one.  Taylor and I are so thankful that we got one last game in Memorial and we are grateful for the fans that made it the best one!!! 

Alyssa Charlston

What does the arena mean to you?

One thing that drew me to commit to the University of Idaho was that I could make an impact, instead of just being a number, which is a feeling I got visiting other schools. I had no idea that by the time I graduated, I’d also be leaving a lasting impact, and this arena feels like that reward. I know other Vandals before and after me feel the same, that every hour spent in the weight room or court or field, every win we got, were all seeds being planted. We all would’ve loved to play in ICCU arena, but I think I’m going to feel more emotion sitting inside of it and watching my Vandals, knowing I had a part in it all. BIG SHOUTOUT to other alums that donated, boosters, and sponsors who made big contributions.

What does it mean to the coaches?

They’ve put more hours in than anyone to make this program into what it is! They should feel the most pride. I know they’ll miss all the walks to and from Memorial Gym or Large PEB, switching into Cowan too, but this is going to be a home they built. It will also obviously help them recruit top talent. Our history of success in the last decade is even MORE remarkable when you consider the coaches didn’t have one gym/arena/home to impress future Vandals. 

What does it mean for the future of Vandal Women’s Basketball?

It’s only going to get scarier, in a good way. I think the players there now should be so proud of what they’ve done, this can motivate them to be even greater. Fans better pack that place!! I don’t think people realize that it takes a whole village to create success consistently, and fans are a HUGE part of that. Feeling supported drove my classes of Vandals to do way more than we could’ve imagined. 

Favorite Game?

Favorite game in Memorial was a battle with Seattle U, where we eventually won the regular season WAC Championship. So many members of the athletic department hung around after to celebrate as we took pics with our banner. We felt unstoppable that year and it felt like fate getting to play in Mem instead of Cowan just for that game because of Jazz Fest. 

Favorite game in Cowan was beating New Mexico State when they were still really good my sophomore year. We were down 2 with a couple seconds left, Jon Newlee called a play for me to hit a 3 off a flare screen and it went down. Might be selfish but I’m washed up now so I have to boost my ego sometimes with the glory days.

Nick Weber

Photo Credit: Nick Weber

What does the arena mean to you?

The ICCU Arena is an amazing addition to the campus and gives our basketball teams a great home. It also gives our alumni a dedicated place to check in and catch up with the Vandal Family in the Idaho Alumni Club. I was fortunate to be in the discussions on the UI Alumni Association Board to generate a true win/win in throwing our support behind the arena and the ability to get a “home base” for alumni returning to campus.

What does it mean to the coaches?

The arena is going to be a game changer for our coaching staff, especially in recruiting. One of the challenges the coaches faced with recruits in the past was trying to get those young athletes to look at the best football stadium in the country but try to imagine playing basketball on it. Bringing them into a state of the art basketball arena shows the commitment not only to our student athletes but also to the student experience for every Vandal.

What does it mean for the future of Vandal Women’s Basketball?

I can’t wrap my brain around how much more the arena could level up the dynasty that is our Women’s Basketball program. I love the historical touches incorporated into the player and coach areas of the arena with pieces of Cowan Spectrum in the locker room and in the player entrance. I can’t wait to see how these players make the arena as much a part of the Vandal story, hopefully with a BSC title and NCAA tourney run!

Favorite Game?

I’m going to have to take a memory each from Cowan Spectrum and Mem Gym. My freshman year we had a mens game broadcast on ESPN. I think it was the only time I saw the place sold out or close to it. I can’t remember if we won or lost but that place was rocking. For Mem Gym it’s hands down the WNIT game in 2019. Mem Gym is always such a cool place to watch a game but that one was epic!

Sean Kramer

What does the arena mean to you?

The arena means a lot to me. I thought the Cowan Spectrum had its moments but at the end of the day it was tacky and not representative of the programs we have had in the past and want to be in the future. This arena means so much for all students in all facets of the university.

What does it mean to the coaches?

It’s absolutely unbelievable we have been able to get the types of players we’ve gotten on the men’s and women’s side the last decade with the facilities we offered up compared to our competitors. This is absolutely everything for our coaches and makes Idaho a very viable competitor in recruiting.

What does it mean for the future of Vandal Women’s Basketball?

I can’t put into god damn words how much Jon Newlee deserves this. And it’s really sad that some of our legends like Alyssa Charlston and Mikayla Ferenz won’t get to play in this arena. We’re lucky to still have Jon in the first place, and while he stayed for a number of personal reasons, had he chosen to take up somewhere else he’d have every right to considering the lack of facilities investments. Still, he kept getting the best players in the Pacific Northwest and west coast year in and year out. He’s already the best developer of talent in the Big Sky, now you’re giving him a gorgeous arena, practice facility, locker rooms, coaches offices … are you kidding me? Jon Newlee is going to create a new dynasty here and this is absolutely the legacy Idaho women’s basketball deserves. I really can’t wait for this.

Favorite Game?

I really can’t pick out one, but my favorite games I remember were all losses. They were losses with raucous and loud crowds, however, and I remember thinking both times against New Mexico State and Washington State where we lost at the end, these crowds were awesome. It’s sad we can’t make this happen night in and night out. An intimate arena where we don’t have to worry about noise being spread out through a cavernous Kibbie Dome will help out with that immensely.

Thanks again to Mikayla Ferenz, Alyssa Charlston, Nick Weber and Sean Kramer for letting me ask them questions about the arena. Shout out to Jack Olson for helping me write this story. I Can’t wait to see you all at the First Women’s game in the arena next month! And as always Go Vandals !

Big Damm Preview: Game 4 – Idaho vs. #8 UC Davis

Fresh off a narrow victory on the bye week, the Vandals head to California to face former BSU head coach Dan Hawkins and his undefeated UC Davis Aggies, who claim a rare FCS-over-FBS victory after beating Tulsa in the opening week of the season.

Last Game:
Two weeks ago, Idaho was shut out by Oregon State 42-0 on a rainy day in Corvallis.

Last week, UC Davis took down the then-14th ranked Weber State Wildcats 17-14 in Ogden.

Last Meeting:
In the spring season, Idaho jumped out to a 10-0 lead before UC Davis scored the final three touchdowns of the game on their way to a 27-17 victory inside the Kibbie Dome.

Quarterbacks:
WHO IS IT GOING TO BE? Idaho head coach Paul Petrino has decided on a starter, but will not be announcing the starter until the first offensive series this weekend. CJ Jordan got the bulk of the reps against Oregon State, going 7 for 16 with 37 yards and two INTs. Jordan also rushed for a net gain of 55 yards. Mike Beaudry went 6 for 9 with 47 yards in the few series he received. Zach Borisch (#LetBorischThrow) did not register a pass or rush attempt. Have any of the QBs done enough to claim the job outright? For a further breakdown on the quarterback situation, check out Chris Hammond’s statistical breakdown here:

As for the Aggies, they’re in a different type of quarterback quandary. Established QB1 Hunter Rodrigues has played quite well so far, posting a stat line of 72 for 117 (61.5%) with six TDs and just one INT. Rodrigues is also their second leading rusher, with 124 net yards and two TDs on the ground. However, Rodrigues was hurt in the fourth quarter of the win over Weber State and redshirt freshman Miles Hastings stepped in. Hastings went 7 for 9 with 50 yards, and converted both a third down and a fourth down while leading the Aggies to the two yard line. From there, reserve QB/Wildcat Trent Tompkins came in and punched in the TD to finish off the last-minute comeback.
Will Rodrigues be healthy enough to play this week? If Rodrigues is ailing, did Hastings show enough to play until Rodrigues is back to 100%? Will the Aggies trot out Tompkins and run a wildcat/option offense? Much like Idaho’s situation, UC Davis isn’t expected to announce their plans until the game is underway.

Idaho’s Key Players/Statistics:
Coming into conference play, Hayden Hatten leads the team in receiving even after missing the Oregon State game, with 12 receptions for 200 yards and 3 TDs. Terez Traynor (10 catches, 99 yards) and Michael Noil (8 catches, 98 yards) are the only other receivers with more than five receptions. On the ground, CJ Jordan’s 121 net yards and one TD paces the team, while Roshaun Johnson and Elisha Cummings lead the running backs with 91 yards/three TDs and 84 yards/one TD respectively.

Defensively, Tre Walker and Fa’Avae Fa’Avae lead the team with 24 and 22 tackles. Charles Akanno has recovered from his Achilles injury, leading the team with four tackles for loss, and is one of seven Vandals with a sack. Idaho has not forced a fumble this season, but Tyrese Dedmon and Sean McCormick each have an interception.

Caleb Lightbourn is off to a great start replacing friend of Tubs (and Idaho legend) Cade Coffey, averaging 48.3 yards per punt.

UC Davis’s Key Players/Statistics:
The Aggie offense runs through former All-Big Sky Conference running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr., who has rushed for 361 net yards and four TDs on the year, while also receiving 69 yards [editor’s note: nice] and a TD. Former All-Big Sky Conference receiver Jared Harrell leads the receiving core with 19 receptions for 289 yards and two TDs, while 2021 Spring All-Big Sky Conference first-team tight end McCallen Castles has 10 receptions for 160 yards and three TDs. 2021 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference center Connor Pettek anchors the offensive line.

2021 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference defensive back Jordan Perryman leads a secondary filled with ball-hawks, as the Aggies have 16 pass breakups and 10 interceptions in four games. Bryce Rodgers (who has too many All-Big Sky commendations to comfortably list here) leads the front seven with 2.5 sacks, four QB hurries, and a fumble recovery.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be Tubs at The Club without mentioning Daniel Whelan, the Aggie punter who edged out Coffey for first-team All-Big Sky honors last season and received most major preseason FCS accolades this year.

Key to the Game:
It would be easy to say Idaho’s starting QB has to play well, so we’ll go a different direction. Regardless of who UC Davis trots out at QB, can the Idaho secondary make strides from the matchup in the spring? Rodrigues completed almost 80% of his throws in the Kibbie Dome, and that number will have to be considerably lower this time around for the Vandals to have a chance.

Game Predictions:
Producer Dallas: UC Davis just got through the toughest part of their schedule, winning on the road against an FBS school that went bowling last season, as well as knocking off four-time defending Big Sky Conference champions Weber State in Ogden. This is one of the most talented teams in the nation, led by a head coach I’ll begrudgingly admit is very good when he’s not starting his son at QB. No matter who takes snaps for Idaho, I just don’t see Idaho scoring enough to keep up. UC Davis wins, 27-14.
Boatman: UC Davis 34-24
Brian: UC Davis 38-17
Chris: UC Davis 30-20