Despite its 0-3 record, Idaho football remains confident going into the game against South Alabama at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.
“We’re a couple plays away from being 2-1,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “That’s what’s a little frustrating, but it also gives you great encouragement for the future.”
Petrino is pleased with the team’s progress and the resilience its had when down by wide margins. He compared it to last season, and said the team wouldn’t have fought its way back after trailing by 17 points.
“There’s no question they’re believing and feeling good,” he said. “Now we just got to keep fighting … It’s not going to happen over night — I wish it would.”
The Vandals face South Alabama, a team that many pegged as the second best team in the conference before the season started. Despite what its 1-2 record might indicate, Petrino still believes the preseason predictions.
One of South Alabama’s two losses came from the No. 14 ranked Mississippi State. Petrino said the 35-3 final score is misleading. He said South Alabama’s defense put together a string of three-and-outs, but MSU quarterback Dak Prescott improvised with his legs to save his team.
“They didn’t get many first downs and their quarterback had to make some good plays,” Petrino said. “It makes you a little nervous … they are probably the most athletic team we’ve played yet.”
He said the strength of South Alabama’s defense is its defensive line. He said they bring a lot of different pressures and will test both his freshman quarterback Matt Linehan and the offensive line.
“We need to run the ball better and take some pressure off of Matt,” Petrino said. “I felt like at times we had a rhythm … We just got to get a little more consistent.”
On offense, Idaho junior linebacker Broc Westlake said South Alabama plays a similar style as the Vandals’ week two opponent Western Michigan. The Jaguars run a spread offense and will use three to four wide receivers, he said.
“They have that speed out there,” Westlake said. “You just need to get everyone to the ball. If some guy misses you have your partner right there to make the tackle.”
Junior defensive end Quinton Bradley said nothing about South Alabama’s offense stands out to him and it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. He said the team is confident going into this game.
“It’s just been key moments in the fourth quarter that we’re not catching up on, which is really killing ourselves,” Bradley said.
With the first home game not going as planned, Petrino emphasized how important it was for his team to treat the Dad’s Weekend crowd to a win.
“It would be a huge win for us,” he said. “We got to get ready to play, protect our home field and get ourselves some wins.”