The Kibbie Dome was once a place where students were deafening and the stadium was filled to capacity. But during the past few seasons, the dome has become quiet. Chants of young Vandal fans can be heard echoing throughout the empty stadium, and the crowd is at its loudest — not for an Idaho touchdown — but when free pizza is given away.
Idaho head coach Paul Petrino knows the importance of having a good home field advantage, and on Sept. 13, he hopes a victory in the home opener versus Western Michigan University can fuel fans to cheer for the rest of the season.
“Anywhere you start a good program, you need to have a home game winning streak,” Petrino said. “To be able to turn a program around, you need to win all your home games.”
The Kibbie Dome has its fair share of unique quirks. It’s the largest dome in the country that is made predominately of wood, goal post aren’t dug into the ground but instead attached to the end zone walls and well, it’s a dome.
With it’s unique quirks, the Kibbie Dome stands as one of a kind and when filled to capacity, it becomes one of the better home field advantages in all of college football.
“You have got to make it tough for people to come play there,” Petrino said of playing in the Kibbie Dome. “That’s a game you have to be able to win.”
Like Idaho, WMU is rebuilding and the two programs almost mirror each other with similarities. Both head coaches will enter their second year, both have a strong incoming recruiting class and both went 1-11 last season.
“It will be two evenly matched teams,” Petrino said. “They have their leading receiver back and have some good skill on defense. It’s another big game and another one we’ve worked really hard on.”
Wide receiver Corey Davis was one of the few bright spots for the Broncos last season. The 6-foot-2 sophomore enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign, he finished with 67 receptions for 941 yards and six touchdowns.
Although, the question Davis might be asking himself is who’s going to pass him the ball.
The favorite looks to be sophomore Zach Terrell, who started six games last season and passed for 1,602 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. But he isn’t the leader by much. Incoming freshman, Chance Stewart, has already been deemed the quarterback of the future.
Stewart was highly recruited coming out of high school. He was rated a four-star and the 19th best quarterback on ESPN.com. He chose WMU over the high-profile schools of Wisconsin and Illinois — both offered him a scholarship.
Head coach P.J. Fleck has been praised for his ability to recruit. Even with a poor first season, Fleck’s recruiting class was ranked 40th according to rivals.com, which is the best rank ever for a school in the Mid American Conference.
“They had a really good recruiting class,” Petrino said. “They’re kind of like us, their coach was in his first year. I’m sure they will show great improvement everywhere.”