Vandal offense: Two games, only 16 points

Idaho has given up 12 sacks this season — the most in the nation.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comSeptember 10, 2013 

  • N. Illinois at Idaho

    When: 3 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Kibbie Dome (16,000; RealGrass Pro), Moscow

    TV: None

    Radio: KFXD (630 AM)

    Records: Idaho 0-2; Northern Illinois 1-0 (fifth team receiving votes in AP and USA Today coaches' polls)

    Series: Tied 3-3 (Idaho won last meeting 34-31 in DeKalb, Ill., on Sept. 26, 2009)

    Vegas line: Northern Illinois by 27 1⁄2

As an offensive coach his entire career, Idaho head coach Paul Petrino has seen some things in his offense that have been, well, a little offensive.

The points production and sacks allowed are a concern, but the Vandals also went 111 minutes, 45 seconds without a point between the first quarter of the North Texas loss and the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss at Wyoming.

“It’s a little bit on everybody,” Petrino said Monday.

Quarterback Chad Chalich completed 22-of-32 passes for 182 yards in the 42-10 loss at Wyoming, while backup Josh McCain completed his only pass for 23 yards. McCain also led the team with 49 yards rushing on 10 attempts. Chalich was sacked six times, and McCain once.

Petrino said Chalich remains the starter for Saturday’s home opener against Northern Illinois (3 p.m., 630 AM), but will continue to give McCain a sizable role.

“We’re probably going to have to play them both,” Petrino said. “It’s going to take them both, because until we start playing better around them, there’s just a lot of pressure on the two of them, and they’ve got to run and make plays with their feet.”

Both quarterbacks made “silly mistakes,” Petrino said, pointing to unnecessary sacks and poor decision-making on third and fourth downs. Idaho was 5-of-20 on third downs Saturday, and is 10-of-34 this season. The Vandals were 3-of-4 on fourth downs, and Petrino said “it’s something I might do more of.”

The Vandals had 139 rushing yards on 46 attempts. Running backs accounted for only 55 yards on 21 carries, with a long of 6 yards.

“I tried to run the ball to keep the other team on the sidelines. When we get in those third downs in manageable situations and we call a run, we’ve got to get the first down,” Petrino said.

Petrino said he is hoping to get the ball more into the hands of speedy true freshman running back Richard Montgomery and receiver Dezmon Epps (14 catches for 155 yards) to provide a spark.

Noting that his team had 199 of its 344 total yards in the first and fourth quarters, Petrino believes that’s still a step forward after only scoring on its first drive Aug. 31 in its opener at North Texas.

“Right now, where we’re at, we’ve got to play perfect to find a way to get a win. We’re not there yet, but we definitely improved,” he said.

Home opener

Saturday’s game will be the debut of the new 50-by-30 foot video board at the east end of the Kibbie Dome. Fans attending the game are asked to wear gold. ... Northern Illinois, which opened with a 30-27 victory at Iowa, is the fifth team receiving votes in AP and USA Today polls). The Huskies were idle Saturday.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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