IDAHO Looks to Get Ground Game Going.....

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IDAHO Looks to Get Ground Game Going.....

Postby 19TERRIER19 on Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:29 pm

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015 12:00 am

By Michael-Shawn Dugar, Daily News staff writer | 0 comments

Both of Idaho's first two opponents presented a similar, significant dilemma for the Vandals: They forced coach Paul Petrino and his team to stray away from its strength - running the ball.

The team has confidence in quarterback Matt Linehan, and Dezmon Epps is perhaps the Vandals' most dangerous offensive weapon, but Petrino has made it clear he'd prefer to establish the run first and foremost. That's tough to do when the score is lopsided, as it has been early on in the first two games.

Idaho has been outscored 42-3 in first quarters and 66-16 in first halves. As a result, the Vandals have had to somewhat abandon the run, and because of that, running backs Elijhaa Penny and Aaron Duckworth have combined for just 126 yards on 43 rushes - an average of 2.93 yards per carry.

"We need to improve our run blocking and we need to improve running the football," Petrino said. "Not that it's been really bad, we've just been in situations in the game where we haven't run the ball as much as we'd like to. I'd really like to see this game (against Wofford) where we run the ball and throw the ball closer to 50-50, and improve our rushing offensive this week."

For Idaho to rely on its running attack, the team will need to produce more inspired efforts in the beginning of games, though their opponents' defenses haven't exactly been mediocre. Both USC and Ohio possessed strong front sevens, but UI running backs coach Jason Shumaker isn't letting his unit use that as an excuse, emphasizing that they "can be a lot better."

"We hold ourselves to a high standard and we think anybody we play we should be able to play tough, dominate, run through tackles, regardless of the opponent," Shumaker said. "That's where we have to improve our game, keep working hard and getting better at it every day, starting this Saturday."

A point of emphasis for Idaho entering this season was an increase in explosive run plays. Penny and Duckworth each have season long runs of 13 yards against Ohio and USC, respectively. Penny's run came on a third-and-17 in Ohio territory, while Duckworth's came on second-and-4 during Idaho's only touchdown drive against USC (Penny does have two touchdowns, but they both came on one-yard runs).

"We gotta make bigger plays, make better plays, read the defense better, study film, too, know their tendencies and know the opponent," Duckworth said.

But what is it going to take to make those big plays happen?

"The line has been doing a good job, it's really just us," Shumaker said, "when we get one-on-one we gotta win those in space, we gotta run through arm tackles and we gotta keep our feet driving. We get one-on-one we can't let one guy tackle us and that's really what we're focusing on is winning those battles."

Idaho's next opponent, the Wofford Terriers, enter Saturday's game (2 p.m., ESPN3) allowing 166.5 rushing yards per game, and surrendered seven scores on the ground in their first two contests (No. 12 Clemson rushed for 222 yards and five touchdowns in Week 1).

"I watched film of Wofford, they're a pretty good defense," Duckworth said. "They're not going to lay down against us. They're going to come out and fight. Our offense and our defense have to come out here and fight."
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