Idaho football needs to play hard for all four quarters to be competitive against SEC foe Ole Miss Saturday.
This has been a storyline for a team that tends to play hard for three quarters of the game, but has yet to play a complete game.
Idaho has suffered both offensive and defensive letdowns and as a result has just one win for the first two months of the season.
The Vandals travel to Oxford, Miss., for Saturday’s showdown against the young but talented Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels.
The Rebels are coming off a win last week against the LSU Tigers, who came into the match-up ranked No. 6 in the nation. The previous week, the Rebels pushed Heisman candidate Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M to their limit — narrowly losing 41-38.
With Ole Miss coming off two weeks of competitive football against ranked opponents, the Vandals are in for yet another test against one of the nation’s surging teams at one of the SEC’s most boisterous venues.
But Ole Miss and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium are old business for Petrino, who spent three years coaching against the Rebels while an assistant at Arkansas.
“It’s a great atmosphere and it’s where they love football. They are going all excited and fired up about it,” Petrino said. “I just want our guys to go out there and play as hard as they can one play at a time and play with some courage. (They need to) do what they’re coached to do and do a great job. That’s what I’m expecting.”
Idaho will face Ole Miss with senior Taylor Davis as quarterback. This comes after starting quarterback Chad Chalich and backup Josh McCain sustained shoulder injuries in recent games. With both sidelined, the job was left to Davis, who hasn’t started a game all season, but has starting experience under his belt.
Petrino may have to burn the redshirt of freshman Matt Linehan if Davis is to get injured and Chalich and McCain are still unavailable.
Idaho’s head coach maintains he won’t use quarterback-turned-safety Austin DeCoud should Davis find himself injured.
Quarterback depth isn’t the only issue facing the Vandals. Many other key players including cornerback Solomon Dixon and defensive end Quinton Bradley have sat out of practice with injuries and appear to be questionable at the moment.
With the team nursing injuries, it’s going to take young guys stepping up if the Vandals want to compete with the Rebels.
Defensive coordinator Ronnie Lee spoke about the injuries on the defensive side and what he expects from his young guys.
“Our motto is next man up. I expect the next guy to play just as well or better than the guy he is replacing,” Lee said. “That’s the attitude that we want to have.”
With the injuries, Idaho’s players, young and old, are still going to have to come out and play all four quarters if they want to win Saturday’s ballgame.
“The thing we have to do is have 11 men doing their job,” Lee said. “They need to out-will the person across from them. Not just for one play or one drive but for all four quarters.”
Rick Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org