Who has the edge: Idaho Edition
LARAMIE -- People like to say that the game of football is
not played on paper.
They are right. But it’s still fun to look.
Today, we will breakdown the offenses of the Idaho Vandals
and Wyoming Cowboys. The two squads will meet Saturday at 3 p.m. at War
So, who has the edge on offense?
Let’s break it down real quick.
The Vandals run a two-quarterback system, but in last Saturday’s 41-31 home win over Central Washington, Mason Petrino got the bulk of the workload, completing 23-of-30 passes for 209 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes. Colton Richardson, who is listed at – wait for it, 6 feet, 4 inches and a whopping 285 pounds – threw five passes on the day. One was picked off. Expect to see plenty of Petrino, who also saw the most time in a 79-7 thrashing by Penn State in week one. The old saying goes: “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.” Idaho might be moving toward a Petrino-only existence. Thought I’d expect the monster in goal line situations. Wyoming doesn’t have one interior lineman that weighs more than 276. Yikes.
Sean Chambers struggled once again in week two at Texas State, converting just 8-of-18 throws for 103 yards and an interception. However, Chambers continued to impress with his legs, scoring from seven yards out in the second quarter. The redshirt freshman also rushed for 50 yards on eight carries. He had a long of 25. Craig Bohl said the emphasis this week in practice would be getting the Cowboys’ passing attack on track. They said that after a week-one win over Missouri, too, in which Chambers completed just 6-of-16 passes for 92 yards. In San Marcos, Wyoming ran on its first nine plays from scrimmage.
Idaho had a huge day on the ground against Central Washington, rushing for 280 yards on 54 carries. That’s an average of 5.2 yards per rush. Aundre Carter got the lion’s share of the work, carrying the ball 17 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Roshaun Johnson also eclipsed the century mark, netting 111 yards and a score. Bot busted long runs of more than 20 yards in the 10-point win over the Wildcats. Against Penn State in the opener, the Vandals rushed for four yards on 28 carries. The quarterbacks were sacked to the tune of minus-44 yards. Expect the Vandals to be somewhere in between this Saturday.
After racking up nearly 300 yards on the ground against Mizzou, Wyoming’s rushing attack came back down to earth a bit in San Marcos. Trey Smith, the Louisville transfer, led all Cowboy backs with 54 yards on 16 carries. Freshman Titus Swen carried the ball 12 times for 45 yards, and starter Xazavian Valladay rushed the ball just 10 times for 31 yards. He suffered an ankle injury and has been limited in practice this week. If Valladay can’t go, which is highly unlikely, the Cowboys will still be in good shape in the offensive backfield. Not to mention Chambers’ ability to break tackles and stiff-arm his way into the open field. Wyoming rushed for just 190 yards on 49 attempts at Texas State. Like Idaho, expect that number this week to land somewhere in the middle.
WIDE RECEIVERS/ TIGHT ENDS:
Jeff Cotton was nearly unstoppable for the Vandals in week two. The 6-foot, 2-inch senior snagged a game-high 16 catches for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wyoming receivers haven’t even combined for that many catches this season. Cotton isn’t just a one-hit wonder, either. Against the Nittany Lions, he caught six passes for 83 yards. Cotton has more receiving yards than Wyoming, too. Five other Idaho pass catchers ended up in the stat column after the win over Central Washington. Petrino likes to spread the ball around, but Cottom has been the go-to guy so far this season. If he is not lined up on Tyler Hall, things could get interesting Saturday, without the services of Antonio Hull, who is still home in California dealing with a “personal issue.”
Read the third sentence up there. Yes, Cotton has out-gained the entire UW receiving corps by himself through two weeks. Six receivers caught a pass from Chambers in San Marcos, but only Gunner Gentry finished with more than 40 yards. And that all happened on one pass. Austin Conway caught three passes for just 11 yards. This group has been highly scrutinized. There are three seniors in the group. This week will go a long way in telling fans what the rest of the season will look like from a passing perspective.
Everything the Vandals do revolves around 6-foot, 4-inch, 300-pound tackle, Noah Johnson. He was named to the preseason FCS All-American team. He’s a senior, who has seen Idaho go from Potato Bowl champions in 2016 to a D2 squad during his career. The Vandals racked up 498 yards of total offense in their win over Central Washington last Saturday. They did it on the ground and through the air. It was a big bounce-back game for a group that was destroyed inside Beaver Stadium in week one. Idaho gave up seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss against Penn State. They amassed just 145 yards of total offense. Central Washington isn’t Penn State.
Wyoming’s front five gave up its first sack of the season in San Marcos. In the stat line, that one goes on them. In reality, it was a coverage sack. Once again, the Cowboys line opened plenty of holes for the running game and kept Chamber’s jersey clean. They weren’t as good as they were in the opener against Mizzou, where Wyoming’s rushing attack nearly put up 300 yards, but they were solid. Left guard, Eric Abojei, left the game with an undisclosed injury but Bohl said he expects the big man to play Saturday. Look for these guys to do their thing against a smaller Vandals front seven.