Nevada Football: First Look at the Idaho Vandals
This fall, revitalized Idaho could challenge the Wolf Pack in non-conference play. Here’s a first look at the Vandals.
Not to be overlooked.
Nevada Football: First Look at 2023 Non-conference Opponents
USC | Idaho | Kansas | Texas State
After opening the 2023 season on the road against CFP contender USC, the Nevada Wolf Pack return home to Reno to take on the Idaho Vandals.
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Conference: Big Sky
Series History: Nevada leads the all-time series against Idaho, 21-8.
2022 Record: 7-5 (6-2 Big Sky)
Head Coach: Jason Eck (second year, 7-5 overall). The Vandals had largely struggled since dropping to the FCS level in 2018, but last year marked a breakthrough as the team advanced to the playoffs. After beginning the year with close losses to Washington State and Indiana, they ripped off five wins in a row (including an upset of Montana on the road) and nearly took down conference champion Sacramento State before winning two of the last three.
Gevani McCoy, QB
The heartbeat of the Vandals passing game is sophomore Gevani McCoy. Last season McCoy threw for 2,721 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 68.4 percent of his passes. McCoy’s 68.4 completion percentage set the record for the best completion percentage by an Idaho quarterback in school history.
McCoy also recorded a passer rating of 170.38 which was the best among all Big Sky quarterbacks in 2022. He also led the Big Sky passing yards gained per attempt with 9.16 passing yards . McCoy’s success last season earned him the Jerry Rice Award for FCS National Freshman of the year.
Hayden Hatten, WR
Hatten is a big target for McCoy to pass the ball to in the Vandals offense. In 2022, Hatten caught 83 passes for 1,209 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Hatten’s 83 receptions were tops in the Big Sky in 2022.
Hatten also led the Big Sky in receptions per game with 7.5 and receiving yards per game with 109.9.
When the lights, go down, in the Kibbie!
Hayden Hatten has tied the Idaho record for receiving TDs in a single game. It’s not even halftime yet! pic.twitter.com/7X3UlB9o1d
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) November 5, 2022
Jermaine Jackson, WR
Jermaine Jackson is another key skills position player for the Vandal offense. Jackson recorded 54 receptions for 1,049 yards and four touchdowns in 2022. Jackson is not only a key weapon for Idaho in the passing game but also a key player returning kickoffs and punts.
Jackson recorded 15 punt returns for 208 yards which included a 79- yard punt return for a touchdown against Drake last season. Jackson also returned a 95 yard kickoff for a touchdown against Southeastern Louisiana.
Marcus Harris, CB
Harris, who transferred to Idaho from Oregon State, finished third in the Big Sky in passes defended in 2022. Marcus Harris was a key contributor for a Vandals pass defense that finished third in the Big Sky in completion percentage allowed (54.9%) and yards per passing attempt allowed at 6.77 yards.
Anthony Woods, RB
Woods provides balance to the Vandal offense with his running abilities. In 2022, Woods ran for 880 yards on 154 carries while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Woods recorded a career high 139 rushing yards and scored a touchdown against Sacramento State.
Woods and his rushing abilities help keep opposing defenses honest by having them focus on the Vandal’s rush offense as well as the passing offense.
The Vandals strength on offense is in their passing game. QB Gevani McCoy is one of the best QBs in the FCS and with talented skill position players like Jermaine Jackson and Hayden Hatten, the Vandals passing offense is very talented.
RB Anthony Woods provides the Vandals with the offensive balance rushing the ball. With Woods rushing and McCoy’s passing, the Vandal offense poses a strong threat to the Wolf Pack defense.
The Vandals defense in 2022 was one of the better units in the Big Sky Conference. Idaho finished second in rush defense giving up only 4.29 rush yards per play.Idaho was also good at defending the pass as well.
The Vandals gave up a completion percentage of 54.9 percent during the 2022 season which was one of the best in the Big Sky. This is a defense that is capable of making stops on defense to give its offense chances to score points.
Nevada 21 Idaho 19
Coming off what will be a loss to USC in Week 1, the Wolf Pack will have their hands full against an Idaho team that is much improved. The Vandals have the offense to give Nevada’s defense trouble and the Idaho defense will pose a challenge to a Nevada offense that is still a work in progress.
However, returning to Reno for the home opener of the 2023 season, an improving defense and the motivation to end an 11-game losing streak should be enough for the Wolf Pack to defeat the Vandals. It will be a close contest but the Wolf Pack will win a close one and finally get back into the win column.