Football: Tale of Two Teams

A tenacious Vandal football team held their own against Troy less than two weeks ago led by a composed senior quarterback Matt Linehan, but it may have been the last game of the season fans would see the starting quarterback.

The contest panned out similarly to every other Vandal football game throughout the season- Idaho hung in there but fell just short.

The closing minutes of that game may have been the closing minutes of Idaho’s hopes for a run at the post season. Linehan failed to escape a tackle and instead ended up taking the blow on his right thumb. Minutes later, sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino was under center and Linehan walked off the field in an air cast.

Disappointment does not begin to capture the ray of emotions that inevitably come with losing the starting quarterback. Idaho head coach Paul Petrino announced Thursday that sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino will line up Saturday while Linehan continues to recover from a thumb injury.  So, what does the rest of the season look like without a star quarterback?

From start to near finish, this season has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Idaho found ways to compete with some of the best, yet at the same time managed to lose to a mediocre team on homecoming and drop to a 3-6 season record. There is no guarantee he is out for the remainder of the season, but even a single game without Linehan is hard to predict.

If there is any team the Vandals should hope to play right now, it’s Coastal Carolina— a team that has faced plenty of adversity and disappointment of their own.

This season marks the Chanticleers first year as an FBS team after leaving the FCS. While this is an exciting transition for many teams, it’s also one that does not yield immediate success. In 2016, Coastal Carolina finished with a 10-2 record and both losses totaled less than two points combined.

Here in their inaugural season, that same team has yet to find a win against an FBS opponent. While the team has faced their fair share of blowout losses, the Chanticleers have fought through to the very end only to walk away with yet another loss. Their win-loss record may not show the programs overall strength, but in the end a win is a win and this team has failed to execute thus far.

As if a losing record isn’t disheartening on its own, the team has battled through the season without their trailblazing head coach, Joe Moglia, who missed the season due to health reasons.

Quarterback issues have plagued both teams throughout the season. While Idaho has yet to find out the impacts of a Linehan-less team, Coastal Carolina fought a quarterback drought in its most recent games.

The Chanticleers starting senior quarterback Tyler Keane went out with a thumb injury against Arkansas in early November and has yet to return.

Saturday’s matchup in the Kibbie Dome will be one with two teams fighting for redemption wins. For the home team, it’s do-or-die time – one loss will take the Vandals completely out of the running for a bowl game come December.

The opponents just need a win.

Head coach Paul Petrino said despite his first career start at quarterback, Mason Petrino has the experience under his belt to get the job done.

Aside from the push to win the final three games of the season en route to bowl eligibility, Idaho will be playing for a squad of seniors, including Linehan, in their final home game of the year.

“For two weeks in a row we have had really good emotion and fire and I think they want to go out and play their very best and do everything they can to help Matt play another game someday, as a Vandal. I think they’re going to go out and play their very best,” Petrino said.

Regardless of the trials and tribulations both squads have faced throughout this season and seasons before, fans will see two teams hungry to win and ready to battle it out on the gridiron.

“Everybody just needs to make sure they are ready to do their job and do it the whole length of the game and that is what will give us the best chance to win,” Petrino said.

Idaho kicks off for its final home game 2 p.m. Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at or on Twitter @mere0415


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