Matt Weir / The Collegian
Fresno State was able to complete an October sweep, going 4-0 in its last four games. But November will surely prove to be more challenging for the ’Dogs.
And it all starts with a trip to the “Thunderdome.” The Bulldogs travel to the Gem State to take on the 7-2 Vandals in their home arena, the Kibbie Dome.
The Vandals are 4-0 at home and coach Pat Hill feels like they have a distinct home-field advantage.
“It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be loud,” Hill said. There’s a lot on the line.”
Both teams are 4-1 in conference play and will be competing for a spot in a bowl come December. If the ’Dogs hope to have the tiebreaker over the Vandals at the end of the year, they must win Saturday.
To have a chance at handing the Vandal’s their first loss at home this season, the pass defense must be prepared for a high-powered passing attack.
Idaho’s quarterback, Nathan Enderle, leads the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), averaging 267 yards per game and is second in the WAC in pass efficiency.
The obvious answer to Enderle and the Vandals’ passing attack – don’t let him touch the ball. The Bulldogs will likely try to run the ball as much as possible, eat up the clock and let tailback Ryan Mathews do his thing. Breakdown: Bulldogs
In the past two seasons, the Idaho Vandals won a combined three games under coach Robb Akey. Now, in only his third year, Akey has his team bowl-eligible after only nine games.
Fresno State head coach Pat Hill praised the Idaho administration for having the faith to keep Akey after a rough start.
Hill said that Akey stayed true to his philosophy and has his team playing with an edge.
“[Akey’s] team plays with a certain toughness,” Hill said. “It’s going to be a physical, physical football game.”
It is clear that the Vandals have a strong passing attack and good quarterback in Nathan Enderle, but Hill said he is also concerned with the Vandals’ rush attack.
Much like the Bulldogs in 2008, the Vandals have a three-back system and keep fresh legs in the game.
Combined, the team averages 150 rushing yards per game and the Vandals have found the end zone 18 times on the ground this year.
The most dangerous back of them all is Princeton McCarty, considered to be the change-of-pace back.
The Vandals are the surprise story of the year in the Western Athletic Conference and Hill knows they will be ready to play tomorrow night.
“They’ll be jumping out of the gym,” Hill said. “Idaho will be ready to go.”