Gary Walker could see the end zone. He could feel it. He just couldnt make it there after intercepting a pass and returning it 94 yards in the Vandals loss to LSU earlier this year.
I kind of peeked at the (video) screen. I feel if I had a little bit more in the tank, I could have made a move. I was kind of gassed, said Walker, who was tackled at the 5.
It was the second time Walker nearly lived out every defensive players dream. He returned a fumble 54 yards against Louisiana Tech in 2010, only to be tackled at the 11.
Its coming along, Walker said. Ive just got to finish those last few steps.
Walker (6-foot, 199 pounds) is trying to save the best for last. He has played in all 47 games since arriving on campus in 2009 from Redlands East Valley High in Rialto, Calif.
He had 109 tackles (67 solo) as a junior and leads the team with 76 (36 solo) this season, including a few that saved TDs. Walker has 20 more tackles than anyone else on the roster.
Garys going to be an important key for the next few weeks. His passion, hes played a lot of football for the Vandals. I thought (former safety) Shiloh (Keo) played a lot of plays. Gary might be the next guy that played as many snaps, defensive coordinator Mark Criner said.
Even with all those snaps, Walker is still finding room for improvement. He is focused on cutting down on mistakes.
Ive been watching a lot of film, looking at the things Im not doing all the way correct and improving in the little things, he said. If I have any mistakes, I try to eliminate those.
Walker and the Idaho defense ranked No. 118 (out of 120) in the nation in scoring defense have allowed at least 38 points in six of their past seven games entering Saturdays game at BYU.
Despite those large losses, Walker is one of the few bright spots on the Idaho defense.
There have been times we havent been in the ballgame in the second half and hes playing his tail off, Criner said. Hes always played hard. Hes always worked very, very hard. His level of play and tempo is always 100 percent.
As the frustration and disappointment grow, Walker said it is vital that the seniors lead the way. Weve got to do our job and some extras. Whatever we can and then some, he said. Things arent going as planned or how wed like them to go, but we have to finish strong.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444