Ahead of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, pitting the Colorado State Rams against the Idaho Vandals, Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman shared questions with Argonaut’s Brandon Hill, who covers Idaho Vandals football.
Chad Deutschman: With just one more year in FBS play left for Idaho, what does this game mean to the program? How are fans reacting to that change?
Brandon Hill: The change from FBS to FCS has been received with mixed feelings by the fans and students. Obviously, everyone wants to see Idaho try and compete with big name schools and a renewal of the Boise State-Idaho rivalry always seemed like a possibility. It seems like these won’t happen anytime soon. The silver lining to the situation is that although the team will drop down, there could be a chance a championship run against smaller schools. This game seems to be an audition. If Idaho can keep pace with the Rams, there could be a bright future ahead in FCS play.
CD: What do you think are the biggest strengths of this Idaho team? Who are the players to watch out for on both sides of the ball?
BH: Idaho has three core strengths that keeps them in games for longer than opponents might expect. With senior kicker Austin Rehkow’s accuracy, Idaho can score from just about anywhere in opponent’s territory, even if it is just a field goal. Sophomore running back Isaiah Saunders has been a stud on the goal line. Once Idaho gets in the red zone, Saunders usually finds a way to punch it in for six. The linebackers for Idaho provide stability to an otherwise shaky group. Sophomore linebacker Kaden Ellis has been a turnover machine, which saves Idaho when they fail to capitalize on long offensive drives.
CD: Michael Gallup has become one of the more exciting players to watch in the Mountain West for CSU, what kind of things do you think Idaho will do to try and slow him down?
BH: Idaho’s secondary is an area of concern, especially matched up against a player like Gallup. Expect senior safety Jayshawn Jordan to try and help his cornerbacks try and contain Gallup. By corralling Gallup into the middle of the field, Idaho can then rely on its linebackers to make plays. But when it comes to the deep ball, the Vandals will have trouble keeping up with such a talented receiver.
CD: Idaho is a two-touchdown underdog, do you think they are out to prove that shouldn’t be the case? Do you feel that score line is appropriate?
BH: Idaho’s greatest strength is fighting until the fourth quarter, something head coach Paul Petrino has repeated almost every week. The Vandals have a knack for sticking around in games they are predicted to lose. It has become the theme of this season, and today should be no different. The two-touchdown spread seems generous. I think the game will be decided by a field goal. If the Rams focus on the deep ball and contain Idaho’s run game, Colorado State should be able to squeak out a win.
CD: Your prediction. Who is taking home the Battle for spuds?
BH: Colorado State-31 Idaho-28
Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman and guest author Brandon Hill can be reached by email at email@example.com