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Penalties becoming personal for Vandals

by MARK NELKE
Sports Editor | November 4, 2010 9:00 PM

At first glance, looking at Idaho's penalty numbers the past two games, one might draw the conclusion the Vandals are becoming an undisciplined, frustrated outfit.

Absolutely not, Idaho coach Robb Akey said.

Idaho was penalized 14 times for 152 yards in last week's 45-10 loss to Hawaii. The week before, it was 12 penalties for 99 yards in a 37-14 win over New Mexico State. The Vandals committed four personal fouls vs. New Mexico State, five vs. Hawaii. Three of the five were roughing-the-passer calls on defensive end Aaron Lavarias.

"The ones that concern me are the personal foul penalties," said Akey, who said maybe one or two of the calls vs. Hawaii he would agree with. "The hits on the quarterback, those are maybe in the eyes of the beholder. ... I'm not going to slow a guy down just because a guy (referee) evaluated it differently than I do."

Injury report: Tight end Daniel Hardy, who suffered a bruise on his lower leg in the Hawaii game and did not finish the game, should be back Saturday when Idaho (4-4, 1-2 Western Athletic Conference) plays host to 25th-ranked Nevada (7-1, 2-1) in the Kibbie Dome.

Running back Princeton McCarty, recovering from a broken hand, made the trip to Hawaii but did not play. Akey said he was "banged up."

Speaking of banged up, do-everything senior strong safety Shiloh Keo was not able to finish the Hawaii game either, though he's expected to play Saturday.

"We're riding that horse pretty hard right now," Akey said of Keo, who also plays nickel back, is on the punt team as a protector, and also is a punt returner and, more recently, a kickoff returner as well.

"A lot of guys come in there (for treatment) on Sunday, they get in the cold tub, they put an ankle in there, there's a knee ... we just give him a snorkel and let him put his whole body in there," Akey said.

Notes: Idaho hasn't won a game in November since Nov. 6, 2004, when the Vandals beat Arkansas State 45-31 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, when Idaho was still in the Sun Belt Conference and Nick Holt was the coach. Since then, Idaho has lost 17 straight in November. Akey, in his fourth year at Idaho, said he's more concerned with keeping another streak alive - Idaho has not been below .500 since the end of the 2008 season. "I do take pride in that," he said. "I'm still telling you this is going to be a bowl team this year." Idaho needs three more wins in its remaining five games to be bowl-eligible. After Nevada, Idaho is home vs. Boise State, travels to Utah State and Fresno State, and hosts San Jose State to wrap up the regular season.

Saturday is Military Appreciation Day. Idaho is collecting items for care packages to send to troops who are deployed. Items can be dropped off at VandalVille at the Idaho Commons. The care package drive began Nov. 1 and runs through Nov. 12 - the day of the Boise State game. Among the items fans are asked to bring include baby wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, tissues, body soap, sun block, chap stick, hand sanitizer, lotion, games, playing cards, small toys to give to local children, CDs, DVDs, magazines, books, candy and snacks. "We get to play a game, but it's those people that are out there fighting for our freedom that enable us the opportunity to play the game," said Akey, who visited the troops in Afghanistan in the summer of 2009. "We're not having the debate on whether we're going to wake up alive tomorrow or not, because we've got troops putting their lives on the line to protect us."

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