After three weeks of away games, the Idaho football team returns home to begin Sun Belt Conference play.
“Our leaders did a great job coming back after two tough games and getting ready to play,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said. “They’re just different right now because they have been winning. Winning inspires everyone to play harder.”
The Vandals take on Troy Saturday for the Homecoming Game.
On Sept. 24, Troy (3-1) used a balanced attack to win 52-6 over New Mexico State. Quarterback Brandon Silvers threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns. In the run game, Troy used multiple players to gain 207 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Jordan Chunn led the rushing attack with 64 yards.
Troy’s deadliest factor was its run defense. The Trojans gave up 94 yards on the ground, forcing the Aggies to give up 43 rushing yards. Troy had 13 players with tackles for a loss.
However, the Trojans’ secondary defended against long passes from New Mexico State’s quarterback Tyler Rogers. He threw for 445 yards and hit six different receivers. The Trojan defense recorded five interceptions.
Idaho sophomore linebacker Kaden Elliss made two interceptions and one pass breakup against UNLV Sept. 24.
Junior quarterback Matt Linehan applied several methods to control Saturday’s offensive game. He used carries and short throws, like the slant route to senior wide receiver Callen Hightower, which gave Idaho the winning touchdown. However, Linehan struggled with deep passes. On multiple occasions, Linehan threw long and missed his receiver. According Petrino, the long passes were part of the game plan.
“Even all the way back in the summer, we knew we were going to throw the ball deep on them,” Petrino said. “We hit some and got some (pass interference calls) and could’ve hit a couple more.”
Senior kicker Austin Rehkow continues to anchor special teams. Rehkow landed five punts inside the opponents 20-yard line and made both field goals from 33 and 40 yards out.
The Vandals (2-2) fumbled on returns against Washington and Washington State. Idaho did not give up the ball once against UNLV.
“I thought (Troy would) probably be our hardest home game,” Petrino said. “It looks like that will be the case.”
Idaho kicks off against Troy 2 p.m. Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.
Brandon Hill can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill