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

2021 All-Tubs Preseason Big Sky Conference Team

Here is our votes for the All-Conference team.

Offesensive Player of The Year: Eric Barriere! (EWU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: None

Defensive Player of The Year: Tre Walker (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Jace Lewis (UM)

Quarterback: Eric Barriere (EWU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Tyler Vander Waal (ISU)

Running Back: Ulonzo Gilliam (UCD) | Josh Davis! (WSU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Isaiah Ifanse (MSU)

Fullback: Logan Kendall! (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: NONE

Wide Receiver: Tanner Conner (ISU) | Samuel Akem (UM) | Hayden Hatten* (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Pierre Williams (SAC), Talolo Limu-Jones (EWU), Hendrix Johnson (NAU), Brandon Porter (NAU)

Tight End: Marshel Martin (SAC)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: McCallan Castles (UCD)

Offensive Line: Lewis Kidd (MSU) | Taylor Tuiasosopo (MSU) |Conner Pettek (UCD) | Ty Whitworth (WSU) | Tristen Taylor (EWU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Braxton Jones (SUU), MAtthew Faupusa (Idaho), Zach Reed (MSU), Terron Carey (ISU)

Defensive Line: George Tarlas (WSU) | Jared Scheiss! (WSU) | Alex Gubner (UM) | Charles Akanno (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Bryce Rodgers (UCD), Mitchell Johnson (EWU), Amandre Williams (MSU)

Linebacker: Troy Anderson (MSU) | Tre Walker! (Idaho) | Jace Lewis! (UM) | La’Akea Kaho’Ohanohano-Davis! (SUU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Conner Mortensen (WSU)

Defensive Back: Eddie Heckard (WSU) | Anthony Adams! (PSU) | Preston Smith (WSU) | Desmond Williams (WSU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Jordan Perryman (UCD), Anthony Sweeney (NAU), Morgan Vest (NAU)

Kicker: Luis Aguilar! (NAU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: None

Punter: DJ Arnson (NAU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Daniel Whelan (UCD)

Returner: Rashid Shaheed (WSU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Nick Romano (Idaho)

Long Snapper:Justin Hathoot* (NAU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: JOhn Aloma (UCD), Matthew O’Donoghue (UM)

Safe to say the Big Sky is pretty deep. The previous team of the decade only has two players selected, it is a testimate to the talent in this conference. As most people would consider EWU to be dangerous again in 2021.

The Numbers By School:

Cal Poly: 0 sad face for Baldwin and co.

Eeastern Washington: 1 MVP, 2 All-Conference, 2 Honorable Mention

Idaho: 1 MVP, 4 All-Conference, 2 Honorable Mentions

Idaho state: 1 All-Conference, 2 Honorable Mentions

Montana: 1 MVP vote, 3 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Metions

Montana State: 2 All-Conference, 3 Honorable Mentions

Northern Arizona: 3 All-Conference, 4 Honorable Mentions

Northern Colorado: 0, sad face for McCaffery and co.

Portland State: 1 All-Conference

UC Davis: 2 All-Conference, 3 Honorable Mentions

Sacramento State: 1 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Mentions

Southern Utah: 1 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Mention

Weber State: 7 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Mention

The Weber State Wildcats lead the way in terms of representation. NAU almost swept special teams. We may have gone to homer on Idaho, I dont think so. Do these coordinate to our preseason conference polls? Take a look: https://tubsattheclub.com/2021/07/23/tubs-preseason-big-sky-poll/

CHRISBRIAN DALLAS
OMVPEric BarriereEric BarriereEric Barriere
DMVPTre WalkerJace LewisTre Walker
QBTyler Vander WaalEric BarriereEric Barriere
WRHendrix JohnsonTanner ConnerTanner Conner
WRSamuel AkemSamuel AkemHayden Hatten
WRBrandon PorterPierre WilliamsTalolo Limu-Jones
TLewis KiddLewis KiddBraxton Jones
TTristen Taylor Tristen Taylor
GMatthew FaupusaTaylor TuiasosopoTaylor Tuiasosopo
GZach ReedTy WhitworthTy Whitworth
CTerron CareyConnor PettekConnor Pettek
TEMcCallan CastlesMarshel MartinMashel Martin
RBUlonzo GilliamIsaiah IfanseUlonzo Gilliam
RBJosh DavisJosh DavisJosh Davis
FBLogan KendallLogan KendallLogan Kendall
PKLuis AguilarLuis AguilarLuis Aguilar
RSNick RomanoRashid ShaheedRashid Shaheed
DTJared ScheissJared ScheissJared Scheiss
DTAlex GubnerAlex GubnerBryce Rodgers
DEGeorge TarlasGeorge TarlasMitchell Johnson
DECharles AkannoCharles AkannoAmandre Williams
OLBTroy AndersonTroy AndersonConner Mortensen
OLBLa’Akea Kaho Ohanohano-DavisLa’Akea Kaho Ohanohano-DavisLa’Akea Kaho Ohanohano-Davis
ILBTre WalkerTre WalkerTre Walker
ILBJace LewisJace LewisJace Lewis
CBEddie HeckardEddie HeckardJordan Perryman
CBAnthony AdamsAnthony AdamsAnthony Adams
SAnthony SweeneyPreston SmithPreston Smith
SDesmond WilliamsDesmond WilliamsMorgan Vest
PDJ ArnsonDJ ArnsonDaniel Whelan
LSJohn AlomaMatthew OdonoghueJustin Hathoot

*** As always I’m not a journalist. so just put your gramatics comments where the sun dont shine (aka Albertson Stadium)

BSPN: 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 15 voters this week.

This week [Last week] Team – Point total (First Place Votes)

1. [1] Weber State Wildcats – 104 (13)

Hail Mary for the Win!

While exciting, it doesn’t do a lot to instill confidence. The Weber State Wildcats lose two first place votes this week, the first time they haven’t been unamimous Top Cat since week one. They have collected 80 of the 83 votes this season.

At end of the day its hard to win with a backup QB and that’s what Weber did. QB2 Randall Johnson played serviceable. Josh Davis however, will need a ice bath from carrying the team.

2.[3] Eastern Washington Eagles – 98 (2)

Yes you are reading this right. Eastern jumps UC Davis AND got two first place votes. Sure, they are only team to not have a close game this weekend. But, that was against Cal Poly, the same Poly team UC Davis beat last week 73-24.

3.[2] UC Davis Aggies – 96

Yup! UC Davis slipped back behind EWU even though they won.

Against common opponents UC Davis beat Cal Poly 73-24, while Eastern won 62-10 against Poly.

Against Idaho State, UC Davis escaped 31-27. Eastern did basically the same, escaping in the final seconds 46-42.

UC Davis sole loss is 18-12 v No. 2 Weber State on the road.

EWU’s loss is 27-20 v No. 24 Idaho on the road.

Good news, none of this matters as these two play each other this week to settle the score.

4.[4] Idaho Vandals – 74

Backup true freshman quarterback CJ Jordan looked like the future of the Big Sky Conference before going down in the 3rd quarter. 3rd string QB Nikhil Nayar came in and finished the job as Idaho escapes the pesky Thunderbirds.

This win does nothing to move your team to the top 3 in the poll. If anything, it makes you worried about this week.

But, like was covered with Weber, anytime you win with a backup, it is a success.

5.[5] Idaho State Bengals- 59

I mean, they lost back-to-back games against FCS STATS Top 20 teams in the closing seconds. It is odd to lose and stay put, or move up in a power poll. But, it is spring, and it is wonky, and that is what the Bengals are doing.

They get another shot as they will face No. 24 Idaho in the ICCU Battle of the Domes this weekend.

6.[7] Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 41

13 seconds from being 4-0!

7.[6] Northern Arizona Lumberjacks – 39

I mean wow!

On the road, against No. 2 team in the country, have the lead with 0:01 seconds lft on the clock, against a backup QB…

Only in the land of Utah do you lose this one.

8.[8] Cal Poly Mustangs – 15

When you lose by basketball scores you will be our first consensus last place team of the season.

Breaking news today, they quit, so perfect week to be unamimously last. Doubt they move the rest of the season.

BSPN:Week 4 Power Rankings

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 13 voters this week.

This piece is suppose to be rather nuetral…. I’m going to try and keep that the case. However, this poll is one I have disagreed with the most. Just an extra disclaimer this is not my personal poll.

This week [Last week] Team – Point total (First Place Votes)

1.[1] Weber State Wildcats – 104 (13)

Showed fight to battle back from a 10-0 defecit at halftime, to finish the game on an 18-3 run. Winning 18-13 vs #23 UC Davis. Freshman signal caller Bronson Barron looked more human this week, Luckily for the Wildcats, they have a STACKED backfield.

They shouldnt be challenged the rest of the season. Punch their ticket now to playoffs.

T2.[2] UC Davis Aggies – 81

It looked like they were going to put in the performance of the year in the Big Sky. Went into halftime up 10-0. End up falling on the road.

This is where my issue with this poll takes place. Somehow and amazing performance aginst the #2 team in the country on the road, after a top 25 win @ Idaho to start the season, and they are tied with our next team… Who lost to Idaho in same venue and took until closing seconds to beat Idaho State.

If im an Aggies fan I am excited to be #2 and should get the at-large spot for playoffs. But man would I be pissed we share this spot with the Eagles.

T2.[3] Eastern Washinton Eagles – 81

Terrible… Could easily be 1-2.

Wideouts can’t catch, while amazing, Eric Barrierre still has some accuracy issues, coaching seems suspect on most levels, this team is reeling. No matter how much voters in this poll want to pretend they are not.

If you flopped their results with UC Davis’. Davis would probably be ranked in our 4-7 range. But because it’s Eastern somehow they move up a spot to number 2 after a embarrasing win.

End of the day, a win is a win. Can’t stress enough how much I disagree with this. But heck, its a power ranking and apparently half the voters(ish) disagree with me.

4.[4] Idaho Vandals – 62

When you dont play. It’s hard to move. Good news the postponed NAU game is rescheduled to April 17th.

5.[6] Idaho State Bengals- 49

Impressive or luck? Thats what people are wondering with the Bengals. Two close games at home vs teams whose level of play and spot within Big Sky is being sorted out (EWU & SUU)

6.[8] Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 39

WOW! Just Wow! After last week being most consensus last place team. With only one pollster not having them in last (wonder who, that could be?).

They beat the snot out of Cal Poly. That team everyone thought was going to be good.

T-birds getting way more respect this week, as Demario Warren & Justin Miller might just be out to prove the world wrong.

Dont look now, Southern Utah is 8 seconds away from being 3-0….

7.[7] Northern Arizona Lumberjacks – 29

When you dont play. It’s hard to move. Good news the postponed Idaho game is rescheduled to April 17th.

8.[5] Cal Poly Mustangs – 15

What a drop! Good news, they outscored Thunderbirds 17-3 in 2nd half. They “probably” are not a last place team.

They just had to shake off the rust. If you’re a Stang fan, chin-up. It may not get better this week vs #23 UC Davis. But highly unlikely you go winless. Could still sneak out 2 to 3 wins I would imagine.

BSPN: Week 3 Power Rankings

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 14 voters this week.

This week [Last week] Team – Point total (First Place Votes)

1. [1] Weber State Wildcats – 117 (14 First place votes)

The Wildcats re-secure their one lost first place vote. There have been 44 votes placed so far this season and Weber has had 43 of those first-place votes, even though they did not play last week.

2. [4] UC Davis Aggies – 92

The Aggies make about as big of a jump as the 4th quarter they put together in the Kibbie Dome Saturday. Trailing most the game, they owned the 4th quarter for a ten-point win on the road to open the spring season.

Got Weber next, will they be in the 1 spot next week?

3. [3] Eastern Washington Eagles – 84

The Eagles take care of business. It did little for their position in the power rankings. Their opponent however, not so lucky.

Another bottom-half power ranking team up next. How big do they need to win by to move up?

4. [2] Idaho Vandals – 76

Another year of a big upset win vs Top 15 Eastern Washington only to give a let down performance the following week. The Vandals lose at home to UC Davis. Though down 7 or 8 starters, the result was telling enough that they drop two spots this week.

They are behind Eastern Washington, who they just beat two weeks ago. Typical up and down Big Sky.

5. [6] Cal Poly Mustangs – 45

They still have not played, yet they have moved up in the rankings? This week will be telling as they open vs Southern Utah.

6. [8] Idaho State Bengals – 43

The Bengals get a big win this week against our new last place team. The win was enough to get the Bengals out of the cellar.

Tyler Vander Waal played much better this week vs the Thunderbirds with 238 yards, 3 TDS and 0 INTS. Maybe more impressive is the 56 yards on the ground.

Tough test this week at home vs EWU.

7. [5] Northern Arizona Lumberjacks– 31

Lumberjacks had people believing they could be sneaky good this year.

It appears our voters are on the shockingly bad train at this point in the season.

8. [7] Southern Utah Thunderbirds– 18

The poor Thunderbirds have played in two very close matchups thus far this season. Losing on a walk-off touchdown vs NAU in week one, and a 30 yard field goal vs the Bengals with 5 seconds left in week two.

Cal Poly is next. Rust paired with and offensive system change, can SUU maybe be the team with the walk-off this week and get back out of the 8 spot? We will see!