FACTS & STATS: Site: Kibbie Dome (18,000) — Moscow, Idaho.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: USA 0-2, Idaho 0-1. Away Record: USA 1-0,
Idaho 0-2. Neutral Record: USA 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Conference Record: USA 0-1,
Idaho 0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Idaho seeks its first win of the 2014 campaign this weekend as the
Vandals play host to the South Alabama Jaguars in a Sun Belt Conference clash
at the Kibbie Dome.
The Vandals have not only come up empty in all three of their games to begin
this season, they’re skid has now reached 10 games dating back to last year.
After having their season-opener against Florida canceled in late August, the
Vandals have surrendered no less than 36 points in any one of their defeats.
The latest loss for Idaho came last Saturday night versus Ohio University by a
score of 36-24 on the road.
As for the Jaguars, they were able to get off to a positive start the first
week of September by taking down Kent State on the road in a 23-13 decision.
However, the team has dropped back-to-back efforts since then and has been
held to less than a touchdown both times. Last Saturday saw the squad bow to
Georgia Southern in Mobile by a score of 28-6.
While these teams are now conference foes, this is actually the first-ever
meeting between the schools on the football field.
South Alabama ran 13 more offensive plays than did the Eagles last weekend,
but finished with a mere 296 yards, partly due to the fact that it converted
only 3-of-14 tries on third down. Quarterback Brandon Bridge connected on a
mere 13-of-34 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, was picked off twice and
sacked four times by the GSU defense.
Shavarez Smith caught the TD pass, turning four receptions into 69 yards, but
even after the Jags made it into the end zone they watched Aleem Sunanon miss
From a defensive perspective, USA gave up a staggering 335 yards and four
touchdowns on the ground to Georgia Southern. The visitors put the ball in the
air a total of just 11 times, resulting in a mere 85 yards, but considering
how dominant the Eagles were on the ground, there was no reason to test the
One of two South Alabama players to finish with double-digit tackles, Maleki
Harris tallied 10 stops, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage, as
well as an interception. Through three games, Harris leads the program with 28
tackles and also has a pair of forced fumbles to his credit.
Davin Hawkins, who has one of the unit’s four sacks thus far, is second in
tackles with 26 and also is responsible for a safety, but still USA opponents
are producing better than 400 ypg on offense.
Smith has caught both of Bridge’s passing scores on the campaign and has a
team-best 139 yards on 11 receptions, but completed passes are not always easy
to come by considering Bridge has converted only 50 percent of his attempts
and opponents are able to focus more on him and his arm since the running
attack has accounted for just two TDs and 3.3 yards per attempt.
Last Saturday, the Vandals ran a total of 84 plays against Ohio, producing 417
yards of offense in the process. But while the Bobcats were limited to just 66
snaps, they more than made up for the difference with 505 yards and 36 points
against an overmatched Idaho group.
Ohio was allowed to roll up 272 net yards and three touchdowns on the ground,
averaging close to six yards per carry, while the Vandals languished with only
64 yards and a score on 28 attempts. The passing attack was much more
aggressive as Matt Linehan converted 33-of-56 passes for 353 yards and two
touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times and taken down for three sacks.
Joshua McCain turned his five receptions into a game-high 150 yards and two
touchdowns, but still that wasn’t enough to keep the Vandals from falling into
the loss column yet again.
Linehan, the first freshman quarterback at Idaho to have three games with at
least 300 yards passing, hasn’t really had much of a choice in the early going
since the so-called rushing attack has generated a mere 75.7 ypg to rank 118th
in the nation entering this week. Because of the signal caller, Idaho is
coming up with 346.3 ypg through the air, 10th in the country, but even with
all of that the team has still not logged a winning tally.
The biggest problem for the Vandals comes when they try to defend the pass.
With a pass efficiency rating of 171.99, Idaho is 121st in the country in that
department and if the squad tries to focus too much on shutting down aerial
attacks, foes have managed to generate a hefty 221.7 ypg on the ground.
Linehan may be a solid talent that just needs some more pieces around him and
some additional seasoning, but with the Vandals dealing with costly turnovers
and a weakened defense, victories will be hard to come by, even this weekend
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 31, Idaho 21