The Vandals are known for having one of the more bizarre looking stadiums in college football, and the Bobcats get to battle them in the yellow paradise that is the Kibbie Dome. As questionable as the stadium's appearance is, the team that plays its home games there has just as many questions to answer.
Three straight one-win seasons is enough to drive anyone mad, but here are the Vandals trying to correct their ills. It seems to be driving Paul Petrino a bit mad though. With Petrino yelling expletives at reporters and trying to cover up criminal actions from his players, Vandal fans are likely wary as they have become accustomed to poor performances in recent years (just think what five wins in four years would do for the psyche of the fan base).
Our favorite receivers coach Charliey Molnar even returns to coach up the wideouts.
With the Vandals now running a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Mike Breske, it should be interesting to see how Ohio plays out in the run-game, especially while returning its entire starting line to the fold. A.J. Ouellette had himself quite a day last year against Idaho, running for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Why expect any differently?
Idaho yielded 462.7 yards per game and 37.3 points per contest in 2014. The Vandals are trying the JUCO experiment and it may be worth noting that several JUCO players will see time on the defensive side of the ball this coming Saturday against Ohio. Meanwhile the 'Cats opens up the year with the potential to have its best offensive performance of the season. Expect one or two receivers like Sebastian Smith, Jordan Reid, Robbie Walker or someone of the like to step up as a big target in this one. Idaho was known to allow big plays last season (16 50-yard plays in total), and against Ohio it was no different as the 'Cats had gains in that game of 54, 42, 41 and 37. No reason to not expect more of the same with a more experienced group of returning offensive playmakers.
It was in this game a year ago that Derrius Vick picked up an injury that lingered for much of the year. Don't expect much differently in terms of two QB's getting snaps. Even though OU named Vick its starter to start the season once more, Coach Frank Solich has acknowledged that backup JD Sprague will in fact get snaps.
Idaho returns its sophomore quarterback in Matt Linehan who is better than his 11/18 touchdown to interception ratio suggests. 6'2" 254 lb. bruiser Elijjaa Penny returns, as does wideout Dezmon Epps, who missed all of 2014 after making 79 catches for 980 yards and four touchdowns. What is now a young O-Line that surrendered 41 sacks a year ago, returns several pieces, but not enough to feel supremely confident headed into 2015. Ohio did make plays when it needed to in a dog-fight last year with then Freshman 'backer Quentin Poling making three interceptions. With an experienced defense that closely resembles the one that took the field at Peden Stadium against the Vandals last year, a an even better defensive performance could be in the making. And if the offense does in fact struggle? Well they at least have Austin Rekhow, who averaged 47.8 yards per punt in 2014.
Vandals athletics posted this pump-up video with Eric Thomas' motivational speech "Be Phenomenal or Be Forgotten" as the audio backdrop. It's a good message for a team trying to escape its woes of recent years. Does the attitude carry over to this first game of the regular season and guide Idaho to a big-time week one victory?