It’s impossible not to recognize the voice over the phone: Robb Akey comes at you like one of those radio signals from the Emergency Broadcast System.
Matter of fact, things are approaching urgent for Akey’s 2011 Idaho football team. It has lurched through a 1-6 start to the season, which left the Vandals “marinating,” as Akey puts it, in another loss that leaves them no room for error if they hope to capture a bowl berth.
Tall order – it would take five straight victories – but Akey isn’t a downbeat sort, and he insists it could happen.
“There’s a lot of people saying, ‘Oh, you guys are done,’ ” says Akey. “It doesn’t matter what the outside world thinks. I haven’t been lying to anybody, I really do think we can make it happen. You can see how close it is. It’s not like you’re getting your tail whipped by everybody.
“We need a couple of plays to be made, and then we can get some momentum going.”
Akey had talked of getting to the post-season again, on the heels of the Humanitarian Bowl victory in 2009. But he wasn’t counting on a total offense that ranks 114th (292 ypg) or a rushing offense that’s at 118th (76.1 ypg).
Brian Reader hasn’t been a facsimile of some good Idaho quarterbacks in the program’s history, completing only 52.6 percent and last weekend as Idaho was off, falling out of the top 100 in pass efficiency.
“The bottom line is, the offense is finding a hard time scoring points,” Akey says.
Nor has the defense shone, either. It’s No. 89 at 421.1 yards.
The season started badly when Bowling Green came to Moscow and surprised the Vandals, 32-15. Then came Idaho’s only victory, against FCS North Dakota, 44-14, before five straight losses.
But Idaho has occasionally shown signs. At Virginia – a team that would later upend unbeaten Georgia Tech – the Vandals took the Cavaliers into overtime, and in typical Akey style, tried a two-point conversion pass that would have won it. It failed, and Virginia survived, 21-20.
“It still did some good for us,” Akey said. “We saw what was capable of being done.”
The schedule the rest of the way isn’t monstrous, but seemingly dotted with a lot of games that could go either way – Hawaii, San Jose State, BYU, Utah State and Nevada.
“I’m really not making this up,” Akey says. “We’re really this close to being a good football team. The goal right now is to get ’em feeling good, get their minds right and ready to roll.”