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Akey optimistic about future of Idaho football program


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POSTED: Thursday, August 27, 2009

SIXTH IN A SERIES

Twenty-one losses in two seasons have done little to dull Robb Akey's exuberance for his job or diminish his confidence that change is coming to Moscow, Idaho.

Since being named head coach of the Idaho football program in 2007, Akey and the Vandals have left the field victorious just three times in 24 games and just once in Western Athletic Conference play.

Despite the win-loss disparity, Akey sees more of his players getting on board with his system rather than jumping ship.

“;You have to stick to the plan,”; Akey said. “;You don't make things happen if you don't stick to the plan, and I do see things getting better.

“;We have some depth at some spots, we are bigger and faster at spots, our football team is a much better family. ... It's a matter of maintaining the patience to allow the plan to work. I believe we're doing it the right way. Time will tell.”;

               

     

 

UH SCHEDULE

       

       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Sept. 4Central Arkansas
Sept. 12at Washington St.*
Sept. 19at UNLV
Sept. 30at Louisiana Tech
Oct. 10Fresno State
Oct. 17at Idaho
Oct. 24Boise State
Oct. 31at Nevada
Nov. 7Utah State
Nov. 14New Mexico State
Nov. 21at San Jose State
Nov. 28Navy
Dec. 5Wisconsin

       

        * - at Qwest Field in Seattle
       

 

       

       

Changing the course of the program figured to come in increments when Akey took over and Idaho went 1-11 his first year followed by last season's 2-10 showing.

Yet with their energetic coach and 16 starters back, the Vandals hope the growing pains begin to yield tangible benefits for a program that hasn't broken .500 since 1999.

“;With Coach Akey on our side, we're going to change this program around,”; Vandals guard Mike Iupati said.

“;This year a lot of people stayed for summer workouts, so that's a good thing and a positive sign. I see a lot of dedication from the team.”;

The Vandals averaged 19.6 points per game last season while the defense surrendered a staggering 42.8, dropping them to 117th in the nation in scoring defense.

Akey entered fall camp encouraged by greater depth at several positions, most notably at quarterback.

Nathan Enderle returns for his third season as the starter after throwing for 2,077 yards and 20 touchdowns against 17 interceptions last year. But the coaches added competition in signing junior college transfer Brian Reader.

“;Nate's the guy, but I'm pushing Brian to push him out if he can,”; Akey said. “;Because no matter how that works out we're going to be better at the quarterback position.”;

The Vandals have depth at running back, where Deonte' Jackson is back after leading the Vandals with 696 yards last season.

Damien graduate Kama Bailey is part of that mix, though his primary impact figures to be on special teams. He set the school's single-season record for kickoff return yardage with 955, averaging 23.3 yards per return.

At 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, Iupati is an imposing figure on the offensive line and one of the WAC's top NFL prospects.

Shiloh Keo, a second-team All-WAC safety and return specialist in 2007, returns to the defensive secondary after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.

Defensive tackle Jonah Sataraka anchors the defensive front with two Hawaii products expected to contribute in the linebacker corps, JoJo Dickson (Baldwin) and Robert Siavii (Leilehua).