| March 22, 2018

Football: Start Strong, Finish Stronger

October 6, 2016

The Idaho football team is back on the road Saturday to take on Louisiana-Monroe.

Idaho (2-3) comes off a disappointing 34-13 loss to Troy at home Saturday. Junior running back Aaron Duckworth ran for 50 yards on 15 attempts against the Trojans. Junior quarterback Matt Linehan threw for 166 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The defense allowed 157 rushing yards, 373 passing yards and forced two interceptions and one fumble.

Drops are a recurring problem for the Vandal offense. Idaho converted 2-of-13 third downs against Troy. Petrino attributed low conversions to receivers losing the ball.

“You’ve got to believe you’re going to win,” he said. “The way that game started on Saturday, they should’ve really believed.”

Petrino’s frustration could be seen during Tuesday’s practice when multiple receivers dropped wide-open passes.

Senior tight end Trent Cowan had the only touchdown reception against Troy. The offensive line struggled against the Trojan pass rush. Idaho worked the issue by running pass protection drills with the offensive line and wide receivers during practice.

“It’s important to get back on track after last week,” said senior offensive lineman Calvin White. “We need to play better and we need to come out and win.”

The focus of practice was on finishing with a high level of intensity.

Petrino said every coordinator and coach should exhibit the intensity to inspire the players, to keep them fighting into the fourth quarter.

“We’ve had these times where we’ve played these good teams and flattened out in the middle of games,” said offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich. “That’s what we’re trying to improve.”

Louisiana-Monroe (1-3) lost 58-7 to Auburn Saturday. Warhawks’ running back Ben Luckett ran for 31 yards on 11 attempts against Auburn. Quarterback Garret Smith threw for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The defense allowed 410 rushing yards and 278 passing yards. Louisiana-Monroe forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Idaho sophomore linebacker Kaden Elliss will be key in disrupting the Warhawks offense, who committed two fumbles and lost one. Elliss has forced three turnovers in his past two games.

Petrino emphasized that even though the Warhawks have struggled in recent games, they are still a good team.

“They’re going to have speed, they’re going to be talented and we’ve just got to go down there and grind it out and fight every single play as hard as we can and find a way to win it in the fourth quarter,” said Petrino.

Idaho kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday against the Warhawks in Monroe, Louisiana.

Brandon Hill can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill

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