After a much-needed week off, the Vikings will travel to Pocotello, Idaho to face off against Idaho State (2-4, 1-3) this Saturday.
A little rest does wonders
After a much-needed week off, the Vikings will travel to Pocotello, Idaho to face off against Idaho State (2-4, 1-3) this Saturday. The bye week gave Portland State (2-4, 2-1) an opportunity to rest and heal nagging injuries, meaning the Vikings should take the gridiron feeling their healthiest in over a month.
Senior wide receiver Kenneth Mackins, junior inside linebacker Andy Shantz and junior long snapper Scott Stone will return to fill some of the voids that led to a 44-43 loss against Northern Arizona two weeks ago.
Idaho State has not brought a lot to the table this season, as it has employed a one-dimensional offense and lackluster defense. Starting the preseason ranked eighth in the Big Sky, the Bengals currently sit in seventh place after collecting only two wins in the season. One victory came from Division II squad Southern Oregon, and the other against Northern Colorado, the Big Sky’s only winless team.
Bengal running back Josh Barnett is a dangerous runner, leading the conference with 91.3 yards per game. The senior has racked up 548 yards with a 5.2 yard per carry average.
Barnett has solidified the tailback position, but quarterback is still unclaimed. Freshman Russel Hill and sophomore Luke Butler have the split passing duties thus far. The pair has combined to throw only seven touchdowns while heaving up 13 interceptions, and the quarterbacks have a 58 percent completion percentage.
Junior wide receiver Eddie Thompson is the Big Sky leader in receptions with 50 catches. He stands second only to Eastern Washington’s Aaron Boyce with 541 yards receiving and four touchdowns. However, the accomplished receiver is not a deep threat, as he averages just 10.8 yards per catch. Thompson and Barnett appear to be the only legitimate offensive playmakers.
On the defensive side, the Bengals allow 417.3 yards of total offense each game. Unable to stop the run, Idaho State sits in seventh place in the Big Sky in rushing yards allowed per contest.
Statistically, the Bengals’ best defensive player is junior linebacker Ryan Phipps, who leads the team with 50 tackles and 7.5 for a loss. Idaho State allows 34.2 points per game on average, and the Vikings’ high-powered offense will need to take advantage of the Bengals’ defensive woes.
The key for the Vikings to come home with a win will be execution. Brian White has shown sparks of brilliance at the quarterback position, but has failed on many attempts to get into the end zone. The senior has 10 touchdowns to eight interceptions.
Portland State’s red-zone offense is decent at 69.6 percent, but that is mostly thanks to the bruising inside running of Olanyi Sobomehin, who currently leads the Vikings with six rushing and three receiving touchdowns.
On the defensive end, the Vikings’ key consists of bottling up Barnett at the line of scrimmage and forcing the Bengals to resort to throwing the ball downfield.
Portland State may have history on its side, as head coach Jerry Glanville compiled a perfect 5-0 record in games immediately following a bye week during his NFL days.
Portland State at Idaho State3:05 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20