The Idaho football team has seen its fair share of obstacles in the past two weeks. The Vandals played two Pac-12 teams on the road, Washington and Washington State.
The Vandals play against the UNLV Rebels Saturday in Las Vegas. The Rebels’ (1-2) lone win came against Jackson State Sept. 1 and suffered 20-point losses at UCLA Sept. 10 and Central Michigan Sept. 17.
Against Central Michigan, Rebel quarterback Johnny Stanton went 15-41 and threw two interceptions.
Idaho had trouble corralling Washington State’s passing attack Saturday and allowed Cougar quarterback Luke Falk to throw three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Turnovers haunted Idaho in the last two games. Idaho lost the ball four times against Washington and three times against Washington State, including a blocked field goal.
The Vandal offense moved slowly against the Cougars. Junior quarterback Matt Linehan’s longest pass was 18 yards. Junior running back Aaron Duckworth’s longest dash was 16 yards.
UNLV has a playmaker in running back Lexington Thomas. Against Central Michigan, Thomas ran for 133 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per play. His longest run of the game was an 85-yard touchdown.
“He’s got great speed,” Petrino said of Thomas. “If he gets out in the open, he’s fast. He can really make the one cut and burst.”
Idaho fumbled the ball on kickoff returns against Washington and Washington State. Both the opposing teams recovered the ball. Junior wide receiver Reuben Mwhela was often hit behind the 20-yard line. Petrino narrowed the problem down to blocking.
“We’ve got a lot of different guys on kickoff return,” Petrino said. “Really what we tried to do was find the ten toughest guys on our team and have them block for (Mwhela), because that was embarrassing.”
Idaho kicks off against UNLV 6 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas.
Brandon Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill