Idaho football week 10 — Playing spoiler in Provo

The Jason Gesser interim era began last week with a loss to now bowl-eligible San Jose State — It doesn’t get any easier this week with a road game in Provo, Utah against BYU this weekend.

The 1-8 Vandals are already out of contention for a bowl, but it doesn’t mean Idaho can’t play spoiler for other teams. BYU sits a game away from bowl eligibility with games against Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State remaining. Oh yeah, this also happens to be Senior day in Provo — another opportunity for Idaho to play spoiler.

Some quick hit facts for the game

- Gesser will run senior Logan Bushnell out for his third start of the season against the Cougars, though Taylor Davis will still remain in the picture with a series or two in the first half.

- BYU is 4-1 in LaVell Edwards stadium, its one loss to No. 11 Oregon State.

- This is actually Idaho’s third ‘guarantee’ road game of the season, with the school receiving $500,000 for its trip to Provo. Our story on money games from earlier in the year.

- Thinking positively, Idaho’s last two road trips are to Provo and Logan, Utah respectively (with senior day at the Kibbie Dome against UTSA sandwiched in-between of course). In fact, those two trips combined are less of a travel distance for the football team than any of Idaho’s five previous road trips individually (San Marcos, Texas being the ‘closest’ trip previously).

Opposing viewpoint:

This week we were joined by our good friends over at Vanquish the Foe, SBNation’s BYU blog. Brett Hein answered some questions about the BYU football program, and even touched on how awesome independence can be (even without the giant ESPN contract BYU has!)

Vandal Nation: How is the perception of the quarterback play there? Injuries, inconsistency seems to be the case there, no?

Brett Hein: Fans are frustrated. Riley Nelson hurt his back but played 1.5 losses through it (and if he hadn’t played, wins would have likely occurred.) Pocatello’s Taysom Hill came on in relief but had a season-ending knee injury against Utah State. This happened at the end of the game when coaches were signaling “kneel down” and Hill thought it was the signal for “run it again,” which apparently are very similar? (Ugh.)

Nelson is back and has had mixed results. He’s good enough to win the rest of the games BYU has, and then I think fans will be relieved he is graduating.

VN: BYU has played a fairly difficult schedule and has come out 5-4 with easy sailing to go from there. Is the season a general success or is there a lot of disappointment?

BH: It’s a good effort, but disappointment abounds. Headed into the season, the four road games against Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech were circled as the season-defining games. As the season progressed, GT wasn’t doing so well, but Oregon State was undefeated, so the Beavers supplanted GT in that list of four games. All four of BYU’s losses came from those games, so it has given the season an empty feeling — especially since Utah, Boise, and ND were all very-winnable games.

In the end, given the massive QB and offensive line problems, 9-4 would be okay but rather empty. San Jose State is a good team, and the chance to beat either San Diego State or Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl ends the season with a little perk.

VN: Independence. Is it cool?

BH: There are things to like about Independence, my Vandal brethren. One of those things is the variety and novelty of an independent schedule. The stagnation of playing the same schools year after year gives way to new teams and new road trips. I’m impressed with Idaho’s 2013 schedule, the Vandals have put together 12 games with only 1 FCS opponent (made possible by a double-header against New Mexico State, though.) Kudos.

The rest of what has been great for BYU may not work out well for Idaho, primarily TV appearances. It would be surprising if many of Idaho’s road games are televised. This is tough for fans and for recruiting. Another is postseason play — if Idaho can get bowl eligible, will they have anywhere to go? I also hope that Idaho can keep enough teams interested in coming to Moscow. A struggle for sure, but 2013 might be a nice template.

VN: Final score prediction

BH: BYU 52 Idaho 7

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Here are the notes from this week’s Jason Gesser news conference, or as we call it — ‘The Gesser Presser’, as well as comments from players after practice this evening.

Gesser touched on what he saw last week against San Jose State, how the BYU Cougars stack up on defense and how the Idaho quarterback situation will play out.

Videos below:

(On Gesser video jump forward to 00:15 for the start)

Sean Kramer is a 24-year old University of Idaho student majoring in Journalism. He's been a sports writer at The Argonaut since the fall of 2011.
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