Once the Idaho football team got its running backs going last season, its offense gave the Vandals more than a fighting chance to win.
Through two games in 2015, they have yet to put together a consistent ground game, with three backs combining for 139 yards on 46 carries (3.3 yards per attempt). The Vandals (0-2) have a prime chance to get rolling at 3 p.m. MT Saturday at the Kibbie Dome against FCS opponent Wofford (1-1).
“We need to improve running the football,” coach Paul Petrino said.
Senior Elijhaa Penny has rushed for 103 yards on 32 carries, not finding much room to break big runs, as he and sophomore Aaron Duckworth’s longest rushes have been 13 yards. Penny rushed for 342 yards last November, which was a reason for optimism this fall.
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“We’ve played against two good defenses (Ohio and USC), teams that will be in bowl games,” Penny said. “I think it’s kind of like last year, it’s going to take some time. On Saturday, if we can establish it early, dominate that part of the game, we have a great chance to win.”
Petrino said falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter in both games has forced the offense’s hand to try and catch up with more passing.
“I think we’ll improve, there’s no question — and part of it, I’ve got to call more runs. But because of how the game’s been played, it’s been a situation where we’ve had to throw more,” Petrino said.
As a team, Idaho has 60 rushes for 171 yards — college football counts sacks as lost rushing yards — with sophomore quarterback Matt Linehan the second-leading rusher with 44 yards, including the team’s season-long rush of 17 yards.
NOTES: Wofford (Southern Conference) lost at Clemson 49-10 and defeated Tennessee Tech 34-14. ... This is the first meeting between the two programs. ... Wofford’s option-based attack is averaging 284.5 yards per game on the ground. ... The 2,000-mile flight from Spartanburg, S.C., to Moscow is the longest road trip in school history for the Terriers.