Idaho Vandals

Vandals try to learn from 72-point loss; Bengals prepare for opener; Yotes rolling

When unpackaging his team’s 79-7 loss Saturday at Penn State, Idaho football coach Paul Petrino tends to see it as a learning experience rather than throwing the film out the window completely, although no one would judge him for taking the latter route.

He looks for the “golden nuggets,” as the Vandals’ staff has come to call reps where an individual is sound in his technique and makes a play on a national stage.

He sorts through all this muck: 1-for-15 on third down; five total first downs; 145 total yards (4 rushing); almost 700 yards allowed; an offensive line that was bludgeoned from the start; and 10 penalties.

What Petrino and Co. come out with are pointers. A Power Five rout might benefit the Vandals if they don’t dwell on the final score, which was UI’s second-worst loss (by point differential) in history.

Idaho makes its home debut Saturday against Division II Central Washington (7 p.m. Mountain, Pluto TV).

“You have to learn from it, then forget about it,” said guard Noah Johnson, who was the only consistent offensive lineman Saturday. “On one play, my technique was terrible ... he beat me around the edge. When I did the technique right, I stunned him right at the line.

“There were a lot of those plays that we can learn from, and some where I saw myself playing against those guys at their level.”

Petrino can live with a player simply getting overpowered by a higher-caliber opponent, as long as he was sound in his fundamentals. He’s seeking out individual fine-tuning.

“A lot of plays, just one guy got beat or two guys got beat, so that’s better than all 11 getting beat,” he said. “That’s something we can build on.”

Of note was the performance of middle linebacker Tre Walker, who was consistently flowing toward the ball in an eight-tackle day, including two for loss.

“I look at it as a learning point, look at the whole situation and realize I’ll get better,” Walker said. “It’s about the competitiveness. I see who was competing, even when we were down 70 points. Try to find out where our hearts are and not dwell on the situation. Just get better from it.”

Western Colorado at Idaho State, 6:35 p.m. Thursday (Pluto TV)

The Bengals open the season at Holt Arena. The Bengals were 6-5 last year, including a blowout win against Division II Western Colorado, and they’re eager to see if they can perform better this year.

“It’s really the most excited I’ve been going into the season,” junior wide receiver Michael Dean told the Idaho State Journal. “I feel like we’ve been clicking on all cylinders. We were working really hard over the summer, probably the hardest since I’ve been here, that’s for sure.”

College of Idaho at Montana Tech, 1 p.m. Saturday

The No. 15 Yotes (1-0) will put their seven-game win streak on the line in Butte. The Yotes opened with a 48-12 win against Eastern Oregon.

These teams split a pair of meetings last season, with each team winning on the road. This is the season opener for Montana Tech.

C of I running back Nick Calzaretta was named the Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Yotes’ opener. He carried 18 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.

Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman contributed to this report.