Football Preview: SUU heads to the Kibbie Dome to Take on Idaho

The Thunderbirds have not been able to celebrate their first win of the season for very long.

Just a week after beating the Sacramento State 48-27 on Homecoming night, SUU will go on the road once again. This time, they will face the Idaho Vandals in Moscow, Idaho.

A Look at the T-Birds

Southern Utah currently sits at (1-5, 1-2) with an outside shot at making the FCS playoffs. They’ll need to win every game of the season to accomplish that goal.

The defense will need to step up. The T-Birds are giving up 42.8 points, 305 passing yards and 277 rushing yards per game on defense. Overall, the SUU is giving up 582 yards per game, the second worst overall defense in the FCS.

They have played some very talented teams, but the defense has been the weakest link of the squad thus far.

On the offensive side of the ball, the T-Birds are averaging 462.4 total offensive yards, 268.7 passing and 193.7 rushing, and 29 points per game, the 21st best offensive marks in the FCS.

The offense may be even more potent with the emergence of wildcat QB Austin Ewing and RB Karris Davis in last week’s win against Sac. St. Quarterback Aaron Zwahlen looked strong in the homecoming game, completing 71 percent of his passes.

“This will be a big tipping point for both programs,” said Head Coach Demario Warren.

The game will be played in Idaho’s Kibbie Dome. SUU’s last game indoors ended in a one point loss to Northern Arizona.

A Look at the Vandals

The Vandals are the newest addition to the Big Sky Conference. After being an a member of the Sun Belt Conference at the FBS level since 2014, the Vandals dropped to the FCS level after the Sun Belt Conference declined to renew their membership.

Idaho (2-4, 1-3) are coming of a one point road loss to Montana State. Head Coach Paul Petrino’s offense relies heavily on the athleticism of his son, Mason. Mason Petrino is a junior QB that has played some wide receiver in his time in Moscow. He has a habit of extending plays and getting into the open field.  

“They’re an FBS program, so they have a ton of athletes on that roster,” Warren said. “Offensively, they got a big offensive line, a great running back and a bigger slot receiver than we’ve seen the last couple weeks. They make a lot of plays.”

Idaho currently has the 55th best passing offense at the FCS level at 224 yards per game. They also average 159 rushing yards per game, good enough for 58th in the FCS. Their 26.8 points per game is also good enough for 78th in the nation. In all the Vandals offense is ranked 62nd in the FCS with 383.8 yards per game.

Defensively, the Vandals are giving up 439.8 total offensive yards, 238.7 passing and and 201.1 rushing, while allowing 37.7 points per game. Warren says that those stats do not reflect how good the Vandals defense is.

“They’re a pretty good defensive team. They’ve kept some of these scores down. Some of the high powered offenses, UC Davis and Idaho State, ran up the score a little bit on them, but they’re a solid defensive team.”

The Thunderbirds (1-5) game against the Vandals (2-4) will be broadcast on Pluto TV on October 20th starting at 3 p.m. MST.

Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz