[Vandal] Idaho Attempting To Tackle Its Takeaway Problem

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Wed Oct 27 10:18:22 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoWednesday, October 27, 2021
Idaho Attempting To Tackle Its Takeaway Problem
Turnover margin trending in wrong direction for Vandals in recent weeks
By Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — Turnovers often tell the tale of a football game, and that’s an area the Vandals have struggled in their past three games.Idaho has not garnered a takeaway on defense since safety Tommy McCormick’s interception against UC Davis on Oct. 2.
In that same stretch, Idaho has turned the ball over six times on offense in a win against Portland State and losses to Eastern Washington and Montana.
Idaho’s three interceptions and one fumble recovery on the season sit last in the Big Sky Conference, and its turnover margin of minus-8 ranks 116th out of 123 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Those numbers will need to improve if Idaho (2-5, 1-3 Big Sky) is going to rebound against Northern Arizona (3-4, 2-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN+/SWX) at the Kibbie Dome.
Idaho coach Paul ­Petrino said getting back on track in the turnover war starts with getting pressure on the quarterback.
“I think the best way to get turnovers is you gotta get to the quarterback and you gotta hit him multiple times,” Petrino said. “I think that’s when the quarterbacks throw interceptions, that’s when they’ll fumble when they get sacked … we just gotta get more pressure on the quarterback.”
The Vandals have 16 sacks on the season, led by buck linebacker/defensive end Charles Akanno with four, but they haven’t been able to turn those into turnovers or get consistent pressure throughout the course of a game.
That’s led to more stress on an at-times depleted secondary that’s struggled to contain opponents’ passing attacks.
A Safety That Wasn't
Speaking of turnovers, Idaho might have had one against the Grizzlies if it weren’t for an issue with technology.
In the second half of Idaho’s 34-14 loss, it was announced the replay machine no longer was working so plays couldn’t be reviewed for the remainder of the game.
In that same half, a bad snap bounced into the end zone and Montana quarterback Kris Brown grabbed it and threw it away just as he was being tackled for a would-be safety.
But since there was no working replay, the play stood as an incomplete pass.
Still images of the play examined after the game seemed to show that Brown’s knee might have been down before releasing the ball, which would’ve meant two points for the Vandals and their first turnover in three games.
It also would have provided a momentum swing back to the Idaho sideline.
“I think Chuck was really close a couple times last week,” Petrino said. “The safety would’ve been a turnover, but it didn’t end up being a safety.”
The replay machine fiasco also resulted in another unique call when Montana’s Alex Gubner was called for targeting on a hit on Idaho quarterback Gevani McCoy and subsequently ejected from the game since the play couldn’t be reexamined.
Beaudry Back?
Idaho’s ever-evolving quarterback saga added another page Tuesday.
Senior quarterback Mike Beaudry returned to practice after missing Idaho’s previous two games with a shoulder injury — a good sign, especially considering the starter in his place, Zach Borisch, was not dressed down.
Beaudry and freshman Gevani McCoy took the snaps with the starting offense.
Before practice, Petrino was not committal on when Beaudry or also-absent freshman CJ Jordan would return to games, but he did say they were getting closer to getting back.
“I think they’re definitely both closer,” Petrino said. “Hopefully, we’ll know more as the week goes on, but I do think they’re both closer than they were.”
Jordan was injured early in a loss to UC Davis after apparently winning the starting job over Beaudry.
Beaudry started the next game against the Vikings before injuring his shoulder late in that contest.
That opened the door for the Borisch-McCoy combo in Idaho’s last two games.
If he’s healthy, Beaudry gives Idaho the best chance to win this weekend. The senior is 71-of-110 passing for 776 yards on the season — more than 550 yards more than Idaho’s next-highest quarterback, McCoy, at 205. Beaudry also has three touchdowns to one interception.
Rolovich Sighting
Recently fired Washington State coach Nick Rolovich was seen watching the Idaho vs. Montana game from the Kibbie Dome stands Saturday.
Rolovich, whose former team fell to BYU 21-19 that same day, and four of his assistant coaches were fired Oct. 18th after they failed to comply with a mandate that all state employees be inoculated against the coronavirus.
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