In 2009 the Vandals appeared in the Humanitarian Bowl, winning 43-42 against Bowling Green. Since then they have gone 9-28, the lowest wins coming in 2012 as Idaho went 1-11.
The same coach who led them to a bowl win in 2009, Rob Akey, was axed in the middle of the 2012 season. Idaho replaced him with former Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino in the offseason. Petrino will lead the Vandals as an independent team (WAC is no longer a Div-1 football conference) in 2013, in 2014 they will join the now geographically challenged Sun Belt Conference.
The Vandals will certainly not return to a bowl game in 2013, but with time this program could make some headway. In the meantime Petrino and company will look to improve a lowly offense and defense. Both ranked bottom in points scored (15.8 ppg) and points allowed (42.4 ppg).
Idaho returns 7 players on offense, but again the offense was dreadful last season. The offensive line returns 4 players from last season, but who the quarterback they will be protecting is up for debate at this time; redshirt freshman, Chad Chalich looks to be the front-runner however. Whoever is leading the play calling, it will be imperative for the Vandals to improve on their turnovers, as the Vandals turned the ball over 39 times in 2012.
The common theme of “things can’t get much worse” continues on defense. The Vandals only return 4 players, but a clean-slate may not be a bad thing. However, they return no linebackers and that alone will make things difficult for the 2 defensive lineman they are returning, Maxx Forde and Quinton Bradley.
The expectations are low in Moscow, Idaho, as they should be, but Petrino is a solid coach with a SEC background. 2013 will be rough, but the future is brighter than it has been – again, not saying much.
2012′s Worst Loss:
The North Carolina Tarheels took the Vandals to the shed, beating them 66-0 in Chapel Hill.
2012′s Best Win:
Idaho’s lone win came against the New Mexico State Aggies, 26-18.
The Vandals bring in 27 recruits for the 2013 season, none of which are ranked higher than 2-star by ESPN. The top-prospect however is Nick Edenfield (OG).
2013 Schedule & Projection:
Aug 31st – @ North Texas
Sept 7th – @ Wyoming
Sept 14th – vs. N. Illinois
Sept 21st – @ Washington State
Sept 28th – vs. Temple
Oct 5th – vs. Fresno State
Oct 12th – @ Arkansas State
Oct 26th – @ Ole Miss
Nov 2nd – vs. Texas State
Nov 9th – vs. Old Dominion
Nov 23rd – @ Florida State
Nov 30th – @ New Mexico State
Given the Vandals rebuilding state it’s going to be a really rough season. The coaching staff is solid, and if they can keep the team motivated after the gauntlet that will be Ole Miss and Florida State, they could manage wins against Old Dominion and New Mexico State. At the most, Idaho will only win two games in 2013. What hurts more is their bad recruiting class in 2013, which will further delay returning to bowl games.