Four words: “We want to win.”
After suffering two losses, that’s all Quinton Bradley needed to describe the feeling his team has going into the game against Ohio, 4 p.m. Saturday, in Athens, Ohio.
“Just trying to play harder and just tired of losing,” said the junior defensive end.
In two games, Idaho’s opponents combined for 941 yards and 83 points. The Vandals surrendered big plays, but Bradley said the fix is simple.
“When you watch the film it’s just one thing that hurts us, and if we don’t stop it, it just keeps rolling and rolling,” he said. “Nobody we have faced is anybody we couldn’t beat. Ohio is no different.”
Idaho defensive backs coach Ashley Ambrose said the defense is focused on getting back to the basics. The majority of the big plays were caused by mental errors and blown assignments, he said.
Western Michigan scored in one play for its first offensive series against Idaho. Ambrose said players were in a funk the whole game because of it.
“This game is all about courage and heart,” he said. “We need guys that go in there, show up and just make some plays — plain and simple.”
Saturday, the Vandal defense will attempt to shutdown Ohio’s athletic quarterback, Derrius Vick.
Ambrose said Vick isn’t afraid to use his legs and Ohio will run some zone-read options and other plays that allow him to use his speed.
“He’s a good player,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “He moves around the pocket and runs the ball. He throws a nice fade and makes good throws, too.”
While the defense struggled, Idaho’s offense looked sharp. Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Linehan, the offense scored more than 30 points in each of the first two games.
“Offensively, we’ve been rolling pretty good,” Petrino said. “We got to keep rolling, keep having good practices and keep Matt on fire. Right now he’s playing really well.”
There is question of who will be protecting Linehan this week. A few offensive linemen are nursing injuries, notably true freshman Jordan Rose, who left the WMU game on crutches. Petrino said Rose is day-to-day with his injury status and could potentially miss Saturday’s game.
Senior offensive lineman Mike Marboe said the injuries don’t worry him. He said depth at offensive line this season is the best it’s been since he’s been here.
“This is the game of football and if somebody gets hurt, somebody else has to step up and play,” Marboe said. “I trust everybody on this line — shoot, everybody on this team, really.”
The offensive line will have its hands full with the Ohio defensive line.
Led by sophomore defensive end Tarell Basham, Ohio returned all four starters to the line. Marboe said Basham is extremely quick and uses his hands effectively.
“They give good effort all the time and that’s something we’re going to have to match and be ready for,” Marboe said of Ohio’s defense. “It’s going to be a tough fought game and I’m excited for it. It’s the way football is suppose to be played — just hard, nasty football.”